The Decision Making Guide: How to Make Smart Decisions and Avoid Bad Ones

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What is Decision Making?

Let's define decision making. Decision making is just what it sounds like: the action or process of making decisions. Sometimes we make logical decisions, but there are many times when we make emotional, irrational, and confusing choices. This page covers why we make poor decisions and discusses useful frameworks to expand your decision-making toolbox.

Why We Make Poor Decisions

I like to think of myself as a rational person, but I’m not one. The good news is it’s not just me — or you. We are all irrational. For a long time, researchers and economists believed that humans made logical, well-considered decisions. In recent decades, however, researchers have uncovered a wide range of mental errors that derail our thinking. The articles below outline where we often go wrong and what to do about it.

  • 5 Common Mental Errors That Sway You From Making Good Decisions: Let's talk about the mental errors that show up most frequently in our lives and break them down in easy-to-understand language. This article outlines how survivorship bias, loss aversion, the availability heuristic, anchoring, and confirmation bias sway you from making good decisions.
  • How to Spot a Common Mental Error That Leads to Misguided Thinking: Hundreds of psychology studies have proven that we tend to overestimate the importance of events we can easily recall and underestimate the importance of events we have trouble recalling. Psychologists refer to this little brain mistake as an “illusory correlation.” In this article, we talk about a simple strategy you can use to spot your hidden assumptions and prevent yourself from making an illusory correlation.
  • Two Harvard Professors Reveal One Reason Our Brains Love to Procrastinate: We have a tendency to care too much about our present selves and not enough about our future selves. If you want to beat procrastination and make better long-term choices, then you have to find a way to make your present self act in the best interest of your future self. This article breaks down three simple ways to do just that.

How to Use Mental Models for Smart Decision Making

The smartest way to improve your decision making skills is to learn mental models. A mental model is a framework or theory that helps to explain why the world works the way it does. Each mental model is a concept that helps us make sense of the world and offers a way of looking at the problems of life.

You can learn more about mental models, read how Nobel Prize-winning physicist Richard Feynman uses mental models, or browse a few of the most important mental models below.

Top Mental Models to Improve Your Decision Making

Best Decision Making Books

Want more great books on decision making? Browse my full list of the best decision making books.

All Decision Making Articles

This is a complete list of articles I have written on decision making. Enjoy!

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