The two main factors that prevent us from making decisions are

  1. “Cognitive dissonances.”

People basically want a contradiction-free world. With every decision, however, we get into “cognitive dissonances”: when deciding on an option, we exclude all other options – and it often happens that after a decision we learn or even think that another option would have been the better one.

2. Head or belly?

Modern brain research has found out that it is not only wrong to place rational thinking above feelings, but that emotions make decisions possible in the first place. Especially when it comes to solving complex problems, there is often a feeling of being overtaxed by too much information. Rationally we can no longer keep track of them. Unconsciously stored information, i.e. intuition, can help to filter this flood. The limbic brain also has an advantage when it comes to particularly rapid reactions or assessing people, as well as when we need an innovative idea to solve a problem.

Dealing with the unconscious

Here, the author presents four perceptual errors that our brain produces in an attempt to reduce complexity.

  1. Framing, the framework in which information is presented to us, determines how we perceive it.
  2. Authority Bias, on the other hand, describes our tendency to believe authorities (e.g. experts or status holders) more than others.
  3. The so-called repetition effect: information, no matter how contradictory it may be, will be considered credible if it is only repeated often enough.
  4. Finally, the so-called confirmation bias describes our tendency to filter information so that it confirms our existing opinion.

In the following, Jochen Mai presents helpful decision techniques and executes them. Below are just a few examples:

Analytical Methods

  • Pro-and-contra list
  • Decision matrix
  • Best Case / Worst Case Method

Creative methods

  • Method of relocation (to occupy the position of a third party, uninvolved person)
  • Time travel method or 10-10-10 method (“What impact will your decision have in 10 days, 10 months, 10 years?”)

When asked how wrong decisions are made, Jochen Mai cites four factors:

  1. The decision was based on false information.
  2. Even if your information was correct, you may have made a mistake by misjudging it.
  3. You may also have been deceived: Someone deliberately gave you false information or advice. In order to minimize this risk, you should ask yourself whether your advisors could benefit from your decision, i.e. pursue a self-interest.
  4. After all, you may have simply had bad luck.

Here the author also gives hints on how we can deal helpfully with wrong decisions and the resulting emotions and how we can…

What counts in the end

In the long run, most of the decisions we regret or are ashamed of today are completely irrelevant anyway. The palliative nurse Bronnie Ware has accompanied many people to their deaths and experienced what they really regret. There are five motifs that occur again and again:

  1. of not staying true to yourself,
  2. to have worked too hard,
  3. not expressing one’s feelings,
  4. I’ve lost contact with my friends,
  5. to have stood in the way of one’s own joy.

Much of what we think is important today turns out to be unimportant in the end. This insight may also help to make better decisions.

In summary, the loosely and legibly written book, underpinned with many true-to-life examples and the latest state of research, offers a guidebook for all those who want to make easier and better decisions.