Multiple sources claim that we make 35,000 remotely conscious decisions a day. Psychology Today took that a bit further, and after subtracting time for sleep, concluded that we make about 2,000 decisions per hour—or one decision every two seconds. But the question you should ask yourself is, am I making good decisions or just a lot of decisions?
Not every decision is critical or even somewhat important, but for each of those decisions, brainpower, time, and effort are expended. Steve Jobs was known for the blue jeans, black turtleneck, and tennis shoes. The ever-efficient business wardrobe is full of white or blue shirts (there's a decision), black suits, black socks, and of course, the matching black shoes. Why the repetition? To reduce the need to spend effort and time on what would seem to be meaningless decisions, especially if the jeans fit just right.
Finding the exact number of decisions per day is a complicated scientific process to conduct. In fact, 95% of the decisions we make occur in our subconscious mind. But for fun, you should try it some morning. Once you have decided to get out of bed, how many decisions does it take for you to get out of the front door? Let me know as I would be curious. After a few flawed attempts with a desperate need for coffee in the morning, four kids, a wife, and a dog, I lost count around 200.
I have spent my life in various roles helping people make wise decisions. The decisions have been easy, complex, and stressful for my clients, and they can affect careers, relationships, or even business outcomes. However, one tool has really impacted the reasoning of why we make our decisions. I believe that The Birkman Method is one of the greatest tools for understanding why we make the decisions we do. But how do we take the information from our perceptions and motivations, incorporate our expectations, factor in outside and uncontrollable influences, allow our experiences to influence the decision positively, and make a truly wise decision?
The key to improve your decision making is to specifically go out and search for others on the opposite side of the spectrum from perspective. If you tend to be too cautious, seek someone's opinion who is more willing to take a risk. If you typically focus on conventional ideas, talk to someone who has a more unconventional approach. Explore what they find important in this decision, how they would address it, what they see as positives and negatives or pros and cons, and the most critical question, what questions would they ask before deciding? By understanding different angles and looking at decisions from different viewpoints, you will ultimately broaden your perspective, potentially shift your opinions, and develop into a more effective leader or team member.
When it comes to decision-making, I will submit that a wise decision is one that takes input and information from sources opposite from our own prejudices, experiences, emotions, and desires. If you are involved in a team that uses Birkman, you have the exact tool to find those people. Birkman provides a roadmap for seeking out people who are going to approach decision-making in the same way as you do, as well as for gaining an understanding of how other people will take a different approach. With so many decisions we must make every day, it's important to ensure you've considered not only how many decisions you are making, but how many different perspectives you've considered before you make each one.