We all wish we can make the perfect decisions, and many times, we’re given too much options to the paths we want to take in our lives.
In choosing a career, choosing a car to buy, choosing a person to marry, choosing what to eat.
There are various psychological deteriments related to decision making, such as Decision Fatigue, Analysis Paralysis, Asymmetric Information and so on. These pitfalls affect our decision making process, and at the end of the day, even with the luxury of choice, we still find ourselves unhappy no matter choice we make.
I think the answer to such feelings is the saying “Perfection is the Enemy of Good”.
In search of making the perfect decision, we go through all the possible options, resulting in Decision Fatigue. And even if we did go through all the options, we are faced with Asymmetric Infomation, where what you see is not always what you get. And in evaluating all your choices, you spend more time analyzing, as opposed to just doing it.
In some cases, it’s definitely beneficial to perform deep analysis of the subject before committing to an action, in other cases, not so much. How we differentiate such scenarios can be separated by what we call the “Reversibility” of a situation. That is to say, upon committment to a certain action, how much can we backpedal and reverse back to the original state. The more reversible the action is, the less time you should waste on analysis. On the otherhand, if the issue is non-reversible, or has a high cost attached to reversibility, one has to spend time and effort to ensure comprehensive analysis.
Some examples: Choosing where to eat has a low cost of reversibility. Choosing a partner in marraige has a high cost of reversibility.
There are some scenarios where it’s not so black and white. Career choices for example has high reversibility when you’re young, but as you get older and more senior in the work place, there’s it slowly becomes costlier to reverse any decision. Likewise, setting a large sum of money away for investing is reversible when you’re young, because you have a long road ahead to earn back the capital. But as you get older, you want to be making more conservative investments, as any loss now is likely irreversible by making it up from future capital.
Therefore, when making any decision, ask yourself first: How easy is it to reverse the situation, before deciding on how much effort to spend analyzing the possibilities.
It’s not wise to spend 5 hours researching where to have a meal, and spend 1 week deciding the person you’re seeing is your soul mate.