Academy for Wayward Authors: Developing a Reliable Decision-Making Process

Add a decision matrix to your author toolkit

Last week, I left you with the idea that many decisions you make are emotionally driven.

Your DMN may prioritize its agenda, cloud your judgment, and drive your behavior through your feelings.

Ever lose an afternoon writing a reply post to someone on Facebook?

Can you even remember what was so vital that you sacrificed that time and mental energy?

You’re likely in a sensitive space and questioning your ability to process without being tricked by your DMN.

If you’ve been diligent with FitMind, I expect you see how the DMN is separate from you, but you need to be careful while reengineering and rewiring yourself.

We will be contemplating some big decisions in future articles, so having a system and awareness about bias is essential.

Decisions that will set the trajectory for your author career.

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We will want to revisit a tool from season one. The decision-making journal is a way to record, review, and learn from the decisions you make in your career.

A decision matrix is a tool to organize decisions by scope and reversibility.

Scope is the magnitude of the decision to join the Army or pick between Chinese and Mexican for lunch.

Reversibility is how easy it is to go back after the decision. In the Army example, you’re in for the duration. In the lunch example, you could get up after your first bite of food and then go to the other restaurant.

It assigns them to four categories based on these two variables. Every decision falls across the two variables and lands in four general categories.

High reversibility + low scope

Low reversibility + low scope

High reversibility+ high scope

Low reversibility + high scope

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Let’s start with the most straightforward: high ability to change and low magnitude impact.

You would be surprised how many of your decisions fall into this category and can quickly be resolved.

Don’t sweat it if a decision is low magnitude and is easily reversible; pick a choice and move on.

Why do people get hung up?

Because they want to be correct.

Apply the mindset of letting go.

You could make these decisions by flipping a coin.

If you regret how the random outcome fell, then ask why.

Otherwise, let it go and move on. If new information comes to light, you can revise the decision.

Now, let’s go Low+Low.

The issue here is that you can’t go back and reverse your decision if you’re wrong. The good thing is that you don’t see the consequences as high magnitude.

Putting aside the sting of getting the decision wrong, could you make a choice with minimum impact?

If not, it’s not a low-scope decision.

What is a low-scope decision?

One that, if you got it wrong, you could recover from it with minimal interruption to the business or capital loss.

The solution is to plan for the adversity (this gets into being anti-fragile). Think through what happens to you and your business if the outcome goes wrong. Have a solution in place for that adverse effect. Then move on.

Now we go to choices that are high scope, high reversibility.

This is where decision-making practices can make a big difference. Using the tools I’ve provided will get you to a place where rationality substantially influences your business.

What are the outcomes?

How can you improve the probabilities of good things and minimize unfavorable outcomes?

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Decision-making turns into planning and action. How do you make it happen if you know that a particular outcome is the best possible? What is in your control and what isn’t? Use the decision-making journal to model outcomes and identify probabilities. Always be aware of when emotion is creeping in and when your DMN might be trying to have a say.

Remember, there is the ability to adjust based on future knowledge, so have a plan for how you will adapt and know WHAT information that, if it changed or came to light, would make you alter your decision.

The monster of all decisions is the low ability to change and high-scope decision.

You will rarely have to make one of these decisions. Most situations are fluid, and changes can be made. But every so often, one of these comes along.

Understand the timeframe of when the choice must be made and work hard to craft a decision with the journal.

Can you prepare better for the outcomes you seek in that time?

When does it become a decision you can no longer change? Be deliberate in your choice and pull the trigger.

Recall past decisions of similar magnitude and what they taught you about how they played out. In most cases, we find something so much better on the other side, even if, in the short run, this decision brings us some unfavorable outcomes.

I’ve made good decisions with bad outcomes and bad decisions with good outcomes. All I can do is work on being the best decision-maker I can be, and then decide.

P.S. Why all this decision talk?

You’ll be making more and more of these in the coming weeks, and the new you needs to have a process.

Read: Facing the Shadow Bully Within and Finding Inner Harmony