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A publication from Medium on personal development.

Decision Making

In Forge. More on Medium.

Making good decisions requires having time and space to think

Illustration: Darius Foroux

Jesse Livermore is considered the best stock trader in history. He was the inspiration for one of the most famous books on trading, Reminiscences of a Stock Operator, published in 1923. He was a true pioneer of stock trading and brought his profession to a new level in the early 21st century by dedicating his whole life to trading.

His habits were unique for his time. He had laser focus from 9:30 a.m., when the market opened, until 4 p.m., when the final bell rang. …

🤔 Today’s tip: Let this Facebook group make your small decisions for you.

Sometimes by the end of a long day of thinking, it feels impossibly effortful to make one more choice. What to have for dinner? What show to watch? Who knows! Well, that’s what’s so brilliant about this Facebook group: It’s a way to ask a friendly group of strangers to make low-stakes decisions for you. And if you’re not on Facebook, take this as inspiration and start a “small decisions” group chat. It’s the service you never knew you needed, but that might just save your dinner/outfit/weekend.

‘Planning privilege’ is real

Illustration by Dora Godfrey for Forge

To me, planning is a fun part of life — what’s better than figuring out how we’d like to spend our time, and then turning those desires into reality? — but I know that, oddly enough, not everyone shares this love.

I was reminded of this recently when I listened to an episode of the Best Laid Plans podcast, a show all about planners and planning, in which the host, Sarah Hart-Unger, addressed a question from a listener named Erica: “How do you encourage others to plan, or is it futile? Asking for my husband.”

The short answer, Hart-Unger noted…

Here’s the real way to change a habit

Photo illustration; Image sources: Zen Rial/diyun Zhu/st_lux/Getty Images

Many years ago, I developed something of a Filene’s Basement shopping problem. I was in my early twenties and in my first office job, so I did in fact need affordable work clothes. But the real reason I found myself browsing the racks daily is that I needed to walk through the store to get from my Metro stop to the exit closest to my house.

That’s how habits work: We do what’s easy. We’re much less likely to do what seems complicated or difficult. I like to think of myself as a disciplined person, but that’s not how I…

A psychology researcher explains how to let your future self guide you through a rocky present

Image: Yagi Studio/Getty Images

Humans have always been pretty terrible at predicting our own futures. Again and again, research has shown just how little we grasp about who we’ll be down the road: Our beliefs about what will make us happy often miss the mark. We (incorrectly) cast our future selves in an unrealistic, positive light. We struggle to draw a line from our present actions and decisions to their downstream impacts.

All this would be true even without Covid. But for most of us, living through a pandemic has made the future feel even murkier and difficult to imagine, full of questions big…

Today’s tip: Divide up the mental load for Covid decision-making.

This past year was, among many things, a year of decision fatigue. “Every single day for nearly a year now, you’ve had to make decisions that affect the health of you and your family,” writes Anirudh Kedia. “Should I go home now that the park is getting crowded? Should I run into the store or do curbside pickup?” It’s a lot. It’s exhausting. And it’s piled on top of all the other non-Covid decisions you already have to make each day just to keep life running.

Kedia’s recommendation: Split…

For every big life decision, I consult my 6-year-old self and my 90-year-old self

Businesswoman sitting near windows in office conference room holding digital tablet looking out.
Businesswoman sitting near windows in office conference room holding digital tablet looking out.
Photo: Thomas Barwick/Getty Images

In three weeks, my husband, kids, and I are relocating from Minnesota to my home state of Wisconsin. It’s a decision that didn’t come easily. We’ll be uprooting lives we liked for new ones full of unknowns. Moving is draining, especially during a pandemic. And expensive.

For many of us, the past year of Covid has been a clarifying time, highlighting our personal values and forcing a more honest consideration of our priorities. In some cases, that clarity can make big decisions feel easier and more urgent — but on the other hand, the constant risk assessment of living through…

When there’s no one clear or perfect answer but a decision must be made, Barack Obama writes, following a process—a consistent set of steps—can help you make peace with any…

Blame our faulty brains. Luckily, there are ways to get out of the most common mental traps.

Group of friends hugging in person, no face masks.
Group of friends hugging in person, no face masks.
Photo: Hinterhaus Productions/Getty Images

Until there’s a safe and widespread vaccine rollout, the greatest weapons we have against the pandemic are the decisions we make every day. The bad news about this is that humans are notoriously lousy decision-makers.

Why, though? Blame our faulty brains: All of us possess cognitive biases that make it difficult to think rationally when faced with questions involving risk. Should we dine at a restaurant? Is it a good idea to send our kids back to school? Can we safely visit our folks to celebrate Thanksgiving?

While our instincts may be to go with the less-than-optimal choice, we’re not…

A professional poker player’s advice for optimizing outcomes

Woman aiming with a bow and arrow at a target.
Woman aiming with a bow and arrow at a target.
Photo: hobo_018/Getty Images

Most decisions are ultimately a guess. You can’t be certain that anything you do will lead to a specific outcome, and you can’t know the exact likelihood of any outcome at all. Part of becoming a better decision-maker is shifting your mindset about guessing.

I may be a professional poker player, but I approach decision-making the way an archer thinks about a target.

Archery isn’t all or nothing, where you get points only for hitting the bull’s-eye and everything else is a miss. An archer gets points for hitting the target at all. Decision-making is similar. …


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