What is the cost of getting that extra piece of information?
Will it cost time?
Does it require spending down social capital?
Will you endure prolonged stress of not having made a decision?
Now, consider the actual value of that information. Will it change your decision? And if so, how much better off would you be with the new decision as compared whay you would have chosen without that information?
Be sure the incremental benefit of that data exceeds the cost of attaining it, instead of chasing more information simply to scratch the itch of wanting to know.
"Follow your heart" is reckless advice.
So is "Trust your gut" if that's all you do.
But "Think through it" isn't the answer, either.
Alone, each method is deficient. Combined, they lead to more thorough and robust decisions.
Your heart helps define your objectives. Your mind can calculate risks and rewards. Your gut will tell you whether you've missed something. It's all data. Use it.
Unknowns are things you don't have information on. Research is the way you can make the unknown to become known.
Uncertainties are things you don't know will happen. While additional research may help you discern the probability of something happening, no amount of research will allow you to know what will happen with certainty until it does.
So, when faced with unknowns, you can either choose to move forward in the face of the unknown, or do more research.
When faced with uncertainties, you can either choose to move forward in the face of uncertainty, or wait until the uncertainty plays out into certainty.
Treating an uncertainty like an unknown and trying to research your way to certainty will only result in wasted time and effort.
"I just wish I had more time outside of work."
"What I really want is to get paid more."
The thing about time and money is that they aren't end goals. Rather, they are means through which you can achieve your end goals.
Take the time to ask yourself, "What is this really for?"
Why do you need more time? How will you spend it?
Why do you need more money? What will it pay for?
If you simply chase time and money, you may never be happy. Focus on what you want to make possible, and you'll reach your goals sooner.
Novice decision makers choose based on how they feel in their gut. They are unable to explain why they made a decision aside from "It felt right."
Intermediate level decision makers can discern which choices they prefer and why. They are capable of articulating what they want to see in the result.
Expert level decision makers are not only good at articulating what they want, but are also able to swiftly prioritize their objectives. Effective decision making is acknowledging that it's rare to get everything you want; what matters is the ability to identify what is most important and what is not.
In this day and age, there seems to be an intolerance of uncertainty and the unknown. In the Netflix, binge-watching era, suspense is no longer savored; we keep pushing forward through the tension until we get resolution. Google gives us the ability summon answers with a click, though it is up to us to filter through what is credible and useful.
So the next time you follow your desire for more information, it is useful to ask: what is the value of this information, aside from scratching the itch of wanting to know? What good comes from knowing x? Does knowing y really have a net positive effect or does it create anxiety?
Unless information will influence a decision you make or an action you take, it's only value is in how it will make you feel. And since you can choose how you feel (more on how to do that later), information that doesn't influence a decision holds no value at all.
Continually worrying whether something else might make you happier keeps you from just being happy.
Good decision making requires evaluating the information you have on how your various options deliver against your objectives.
However, most people don't understand how they should analyze the information piece of a decision.
The first step is actually to identify what information you *don't* have.
Where are the gaps?
Can they be filled?
What would it take?
Would it change your decision?
Answer those questions, and you'll be able to take a more targeted approach, instead of falling into the trap of analysis paralysis.
I was basically working on three different gigs when I found out I was pregnant with my first child: my private career coaching practice, coaching the coaches in the second sessions of the altMBA, and ramping up a coaching engagement for a cohort of Black, Latinx, and Native American rising leaders in corporate America.
I enjoyed each for its own reasons, but I remember that first month of pregnancy was the hardest month ever. I was suffering from that first-trimester bionic fatigue that makes you useless after 5pm (why did no one tell me about that??), was still juggling these three different workstreams, and couldn't catch any slack because I wasn't yet telling anyone that I was pregnant.
By the end of the month, I had a decision to make.
What was my priority?
For me, being fully present during my pregnancy and not treating it as an inconvenience was important. So I knew I had to let go of something. It was one of the hardest decisions I've ever made, but also one of the best ones.
With my clients I often see this fear of letting go of an awesome opportunity, because who knows if you'll ever "get it back," but saying yes to what's important often requires saying no to something else.
There is an exercise called "The 5 Why's" that is often used to get to the root cause of a problem. You start with the visible problem, and keep asking "why" to dig into the layers of underlying problems. Once you know the root cause, you can find a more effective solution.
Similarly, you can use "The 5 Why's" to make better decisions. Start with each reason why you are leaning toward an option, then ask yourself "Why is this important to me?" to dig down into your underlying motives.
Tip: If the 5 why's don't ultimately lead to "So I can be happy," you might want to ask why that is.