Good Enough Decision Making

The weight of decisions when you have anxiety can be extremely taxing. Not only am I extremely aware of all of the information I do not have in order to make the “perfect” decision, but you should see my reaction if I finally make a decision and then that is no longer is a possibility. Honestly the latter is probably worse. Those in my life have learnt once I’ve made my mind up about something that this is what is happening. The fact that I don’t deal well if I need to make a change post decision probably worsens my ability to make a decision as I need to know it’s definitely going to go through before I commit to something. People who don’t commit fully to  decisions make me anxious. I don’t always know what I want, but I have a fairly good idea what I do and don’t like and being able to narrow down options is an essential part of making a decision easier for yourself. If you’re not familiar with the inverted U it’s a premise that there’s a stimuli and then there’s an optimal peak to that stimuli and then a decline if there’s too much of that stimuli. Decision making also has a peak performance curve, the stimuli being how many options you have to make a decision from. There’s this idea in our society that the more options we have available to us, the more people have the option that is best for them.

Now logically that makes sense, but if you’ve ever been to a normal coffee shop, there’s a list of coffee options and sizes, and there’s normally 6 or 8 options down the page; Latte, Flat White, Cappuccino, Espresso, Long Black, Mocha and some other place will have your Macchiato’s and Piccolo’s etc. Imagine for the first time ordering coffee and having a list from 6 or 8 to choose from. You might decide you’ll go down the list, try them (not all in one sitting hopefully). Find one you like. Now imagine instead it’s your first time ordering coffee and you go to Starbucks… the list is triple. Imagine trying them all to figure out which one you like. And this in essence is decision making. Decisions are easier if you have prior knowledge or experience you’re able to draw off. But even then sometimes I order at Starbucks and I regret my decision after because what that guy has looks much better. Not only does increasing the available options make the decision making process harder, it increases the likelihood you will be unhappy with the decision you made. It’s much easier to imagine that iced vanilla latte with extra whip would be a better option than my caramel latte that’s too sweet and too hot for this weather. Than it is too imagine the significant difference between a latte and flat white. And at the end of the day, my intention was to buy coffee, and I bought and consumed coffee. I’m just disappointed because I had to too many options available to me and now I feel like my decision wasn’t the best decision. When in fact I achieved my goal. The quote to live by when decision making is good enough is almost always good enough. In situations where making a decision is going to cause you anxiety, which are more likely to be areas you’re not comfortable in. Firstly, use your network to make decisions for you. People know why they bought the car the bought, what restaurants they like in the area, whether they liked visiting that country, so use the informational sources around you. Secondly, realise you don’t need to try every available option and you don’t have to make the perfect choice. If a decision is good enough, learn to be satisfied with your choice. Reducing the decisions you need to make in a day will decrease the anxiety provoking situations. I personally have my clothes set out for a week, because mornings with children are very stressful. What I wear is a simple decision really, but in that environment that decision could increase my stress causing my anxiety to increase. I’m extremely pro planning and organisation to significantly reduce anxiety. Trying to make the “perfect” decision is not conducive to your happiness. I don’t like making decisions on the fly, it causes my anxiety to sky rocket, but the way I cope is I narrow down my goal, what am I actually trying to achieve and then I accept that it might not be the best choice, but it’s achieving my goal.