“Why Do I Make Bad Decisions?” Reasons & What To Do
Ever have those moments where you went against every instinct that flared, went up, and made a bad decision? We make thousands of choices each day – some are small, like “what’s for dinner?” and some are huge, like “should I relocate to another country?”.
These are just some examples of decisions we need to make and while some of our decisions might be great, chances are that some of them would turn out to be bad decisions.
Looking back, I’m pretty sure that in my life, I’ve made some bad decisions, the ones that leave me feeling nothing but regret in my heart. But, hey! That’s me. Now, if I made a decision that turned out to be bad, it was OK. After all, it’s just one decision, right? But if I made bad decisions at every turn, that’d mean something.
Our poor choices hide a lot of factors. Sometimes, it’s bias, comparisons, or even shortcuts. But other times, these factors could be multitasking, individual differences, or the fear of making wrong decisions.
Let’s take a deeper look at the reasons why you make bad decisions all the time and what you can do to make wiser decisions.
Reasons Why You Make Bad Decisions
1. Mental Shortcuts
If you think about every possible outcome of a situation, then you won’t be able to get your tasks done for the day, right? Well, this causes us to make hasty decisions, some choices that we make quick, yet accurately. But sometimes, this kind of shortcut thinking can cause us to make bad decisions.
Here’s an example for you;
When deciding about buying a car, you know that the average market price of the car is, say, $35000, so you’ll know that you need to use this knowledge to negotiate the best price of the car you pick. Understanding how mental shortcuts work can help you make the right decision.
Taking the same example; You can come up with different price estimates for the car and come up with a more reasonable price instead of focusing on the overall average price.
2. Faulty Comparisons
Making comparisons can also be a huge factor in why we make bad decisions. When you know the average cost of an object, it makes us automatically compare it with other alternatives to pick the best one. This way, you assign a value to a product based on the comparison. That said, it’s easy to make faulty comparisons too.
Maybe the comparison you made was not equal to the product you chose. What then? Haven’t you made a bad decision because of the comparison? Here’s an example; how much would you negotiate to save, say, $20?
If you can save $20 on a $50 product by going 30 minutes out of your way, you’ll do it, right? But what if I say that you can save $20 on a $1000 product, would you take up this offer? Even though both alternatives give you a choice to save $20, more often than not, people are less likely to travel farther to save the amount.
Again, it’s only an example, but you get my point, right? This kind of poor comparison can affect your decision-making. When you make a decision based on poor comparisons, that is to say, without logically thinking about the options, you’re subjecting yourself to making bad decisions.
3. Over Optimism
You would not believe this, but optimism can also make you make a bad decision. There was a study where they asked the participants about what they thought the chances were of being robbed or being diagnosed with a chronic illness. After the predictions were made, the researchers declared the probabilities.
It was found that when told that the risk was lower than they expected, people tended to adjust their predictions to match the probabilities. However, when they learned that the risk was higher, they tended to ignore what they were told.
Also Read: How to Become Optimistic: 10 Simple Ways
Here’s an example; When you predict that the chances of dying in a plane accident is, say, 5% but then are told that the actual risk is closer to 25%, you will likely ignore this new knowledge and stick with your prediction.
So this over-optimistic mindset might make you make a bad decision. When you hear about bad things happening to another person, you look for information that might make you think that it was deserving. This may protect you from admitting that the same can happen to you or anyone you know.
Being overly optimistic can suggest that you stay overconfident in yourself and your abilities that everything good will happen to you and underestimate the likelihood of something bad happening to you.
This is called optimism bias and can make you believe that your bad decision is also a good one. In simple terms, it’s when you believe that consuming too much sugar will give diabetes to others, but not you.
4. Other Reasons
Here are some other reasons that might make you make bad decisions;
1. Autopilot thinking –
It’s when you make a decision based on your automatic reaction. One you don’t give much thought to. This could cause you to make a bad decision.
2. Individual differences –
When you take into consideration factors such as socioeconomic status, age, race, etc. into making a decision. This kind of reasoning is usually found in older people.
4. Previous experiences –
Sometimes you may make a decision based on a previous experience. You may believe that a decision would be good because it worked in the past but you might forget to take your status quo in mind.
5. Multitasking –
When you have too much to juggle, you may make bad decisions. Multitasking requires you to have scattered thinking and to salvage one task, you may make a poor decision, sabotaging it instead.
Making too many decisions in a day can also be one of the most common reasons why you make bad decisions all the time. The fatigue of making decisions can be laced with stress and anxious thinking, causing you to make bad decisions.
What To Do To Make Wiser Decisions?
Here’s what you can do to make wiser decisions;
1. Prioritize decisions – Make sure you prioritize the decisions that are the most important ones. This will prevent decision fatigue from affecting your decision-making.
2. Avoid distractions – If there are too many distractions, then it’s likely that you’ll make a poor decision. Try to eliminate distractions from your surroundings, so you can make a logical decision.
3. Consider all alternatives – Before making a decision, try to consider all the alternatives available to you. Don’t just focus on the most obvious choice but take time to consider everything before making a decision.
4. Take a break – If you find yourself getting overwhelmed making decisions, then consider taking a break before making a decision. This will allow you to breathe, think rationally, and then decide with a fresh mind.
5. Seek outside input – If you fear that you’re making a bad decision, try talking to someone whose opinion you value and who can help you make a decision. Getting an outside opinion can also help you get a new perspective on the situation.
We can’t make perfect decisions all the time, but if you’re prone to make bad decisions all the time, there are things you can do to make wiser decisions. Decision-making is something that we all do, every day in every little aspect of our life, so making a bad decision might affect your life.
Understanding what might be causing you to make bad decisions can help you become a better decision-maker. Plus, the tips mentioned above can also help you make wiser decisions in your life.
I hope this article helped you understand why you make bad decisions all the time. If you have any concerns, you can write to us at email@example.com or DM us on social media.
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