Making Better Decisions

99% of the world, and people with Aspergers in particular, want to improve their lives. We hear lots of talk about becoming independent, getting a job, gaining a new friend, or simply living a dream. But very few actually do so. Why is there is a huge discrepancy between what people say and what they do? Why can’t people get even decision making power to truly do what they want, instead of being stuck? Come January 1st, everyone says they will be a better person, go to the gym, lose weight, finally do the thing they are putting off… but then they don’t. Why, as a society, do we suck at making long term decisions?

I recently attended a 1 day workshop all about this subject. How to plan out your life, and get enough reasons to make a change. What I’ve learned through that, and what has been shown to me through life, is that generally, people do not have enough reasons to change. For example: Let’s say that you wanted to start running every morning. You know it would be good for you, but then, the morning after you have decided, you find yourself in bed 2 hours after your alarm went off. Why? You don’t have enough “anchors”, as the leader of the workshop would say. The reasons to stay in bed are clearer, more emotional, and more powerful than the reasons to get up and start jogging. Humans are naturally drawn to the behavior that has more positive reasons behind it.

Some would say that it is simply a matter of willpower and/or luck. But when you look at the mechanisms behind decision, there is neither luck nor skill involved. There IS a bit of willpower, but not as much as most people think. True decision is not some laborious feat that requires a great feat of mental strength. True decision is almost effortless.

A true decision (which by the way, means “to cut off all other options”) requires very little effort. Think of it like a set of scales. Going back to the jogging example, on one side of the scales, you have “stay in bed and ignore the alarm”, and on the other side you have “get out of bed and start jogging”. Most people SAY they want to start the jogging, but meanwhile all of their reasons are tipping the scale toward “stay in bed”. If we make our reasons clearly defined, emotional, and big enough, then we can tip the scale. Just like the actual act of decision isn’t hard with enough reasons, the scale tipping requires very little effort with enough leverage.

While most of society keeps saying one thing and doing another, I will take the time to sit down, plan out my reasons (which are based on my values), then make them clearer, super specific, and highly emotional. And then, if I haven’t changed, I’ll just get more reasons. I hope you’ll do the same.

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