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How to make confident decisions

1. Define the ideal outcome and assess your why

What constitutes a good outcome for you personally?

How will making this decision contribute to your life?

Who else in your life/environment is impacted by this decision and how does it influence your motivation to make this decision?

What will be the cost for you if you don’t make/postpone this decision?

2. Create a timeframe

When do you want to come up with a decision?

What is the event/milestone by which you want to make this decision?

3. Assess your intuition

What is your inner voice telling you?

What is your gut feeling?

What feels right in your body?

Write it down, journal, or say out loud what comes to you at first. No editing, no overthinking.

4. Apply the AREA method

AREA is an acronym for a systematic approach that addresses 4 perspectives and aims to verify the inner voice.

A, or Absolute, refers to the perspective of the research target. It is primary, uninfluenced information from the source itself.

  • Approach a person associated with your target

  • Address your questions directly

R, or Relative, refers to the perspective of outsiders around the research target. It is secondary information or information that has been filtered through sources connected to the target.

  • Check out the website

  • Read articles

  • Listen to interviews

E, or Exploration and Exploitation, are really about the human mind. Exploration is about listening to what other people think and believe. Exploitation is about listening to yourself and examining your own assumptions and judgment.

  • Ask a person who worked/works there

  • Ask other people in the industry/sector about your target

  • Check out reviews (For example Glassdoor or LinkedIn for jobs)

  • What do you like/dislike about your target?

  • What other questions can you ask to clarify your understanding of them?

A, or Analysis, synthesizing all of these perspectives, processing and interpreting the information you’ve collected.

  • Bring it all together

  • You can create a mind map to visualize what you have

  • Take strategic pauses time to accelerate your work. Go for a walk, put it aside for a day, and come back to it with fresh eyes. What new perspectives do you notice?

  • What biases do you identify in your approach?

  • What fears or worries do you observe in your thinking?

  • What if you eliminate the fear factor from your thinking? How would it change your decision-making process?

5. Make the decision and celebrate

Yep, this is what makes this process complete!

Be proud of yourself and celebrate that you took responsibility for your own life.

+1 Strengthen your prefrontal cortex

The prefrontal cortex is the seat of rationality. It is responsible for decision-making, logic, reason, willpower, creativity, problem-solving, and goal-setting.

If your prefrontal cortex is weak, your ability to do all of these will be affected. The good news is, that the brain can change itself (it's called neuroplasticity) with repeated practice.

Ways to strengthen the prefrontal cortex:

  1. Postpone instant gratification

  2. Meditate

  3. Practice gratitude

  4. Pay attention to the basics: exercise, eat healthy food, and get enough sleep

  5. Do memory and logic games or Gehirnjogging as the Germans call them

  6. Learn a new skill

  7. Play games

  8. Go out and explore

  9. Challenge yourself and go out of your comfort zone

  10. Practice blue sky thinking. Ask yourself: "what is my best hope?" "what could go well?" "where could my imagination take me if the sky is the limit?"


Further reading


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