The Decision Filter
On average, we make about 40 000 decisions every day. These decisions include both conscious and subconscious decisions, most of them being subconscious. What makes things much more complicated for us is the incredible amount of influences that affect us throughout this decision-making process. For instance, deciding whether to buy a coffee from Starbucks or to save money on that one purchase could be quite troublesome. How come? Because we are quite easily influenced by factors like social media, visual adds on the streets or simply our friends who buy their coffee on daily bases, thus presenting it to us as a common action to take. Without realising that buying a coffee for 5$ on a daily bases leads to an expense a little over 1,800$ in a year, we follow the “standard” and suffer the consequences with everyone else. What I want to talk about today is a very simple decision filter you can use pretty much every time you’re making a decision. This will help you evaluate your decisions based on your own values and principles.
Step #1 Define Your Values & Priorities
To structure your filter effectively, you first need to define its functions. You need to define the variables that will affect whether our decision passes through the filter or whether it gets stuck inside it. The two core variables that we’ll focus on are your values/principles and your priorities.
To define your values, take a piece of paper, sit down in a quiet place and think about what kind of person you would like to be. I’d suggest focusing on 10-20 core values that can range from honesty, respect to others all the way to being responsible and professional. All these values and hundreds of others will help you define one of the layers of your filter.
As Warren Buffet said, the best way to define your priorities is to think of 20 goals or achievements you’d like to reach within your lifetime. List them down, rank them from the most important one as number 1 to the least important one as number 20. Once you’ve ranked them, take the 3 from the top and disregard the rest.
Step #2 Three Core Questions
Now that you have defined your variables in your filter, you can structure the filter itself. The filter is constructed from 3-5 check-in questions that allow you to make it clear to your mind whether the decision should pass through into the action taking stage or whether it should be stopped.
This question should involve your priorities. The question should look somewhat like this – Does this decision bring me closer to becoming…./reaching….. or does it keep me where I am or take me further away from it? For instance, if your #1 priority was to become financially free, you could ask yourself – Does buying a coffee every day in Starbucks get me closer to my financial freedom or does it keep me at the same spot, or even worse, away from it?
Question #2 should focus on your principles and values. You should ask yourself something like – Does this action violate my values and principles? For instance, if you wanted to be very honest and you were facing a decision whether you want to tell your partner that you’ve cracked her favourite vase, what do you think you should do? Ask – Does not telling my partner about cracking her vase make me a dishonest person? The answer to that would be – yes, so it follows that the action you should take is telling her about it.
Question number 3 is a little reassurance after the first 2 questions. If you buying a coffee in Starbucks doesn’t pass one of the first 2 questions, question 3 could help you find a “middle way.” The question should look somehow like this – Since this action violates my values/priorities, how can I do it so that it wouldn’t? For instance, If you really want to buy coffee, maybe you should buy a cheaper one, or maybe you should brew your own. If there is an appointment that hasn’t passed your filter due to the prioritisation of different tasks, can you reschedule it? Can you leave earlier? Can you make it shorter?
Overall, this filter serves as a tool to make your life simpler. Using this will allow you to make decisions based on your own view, based on your own values, principles and priorities. It is also very customisable, so take it, play with it and exploit it as much as you can! Much love!
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