35: How to break down a Lead Domino into smaller decisions

04-03-2023

decision-making

So you have identified what matters most to you and you’ve taken most other things off your plate. You have this (one or more) big consequential-irreversible decision to make. Think of it as your Netflix special. How would you approach it? There are two ways:

Think of all funny premises, write all your jokes, practice before the mirror, re-write and re-practise, go out and shoot your special hoping the set works out.

OR

Scribble down your joke-lets, go to clubs and try them out before live audiences, get instant feedback, chuck out the ones that fail, refine what could work better, and redo the steps until you’re confident of every joke. Then put everything together into a set.

The first way is linear, the second iterative. We’re more used to linear. Good decision-making is iterative–running small experiments simultaneously and learning from them before going all in.

The objective when considering a consequential-irreversible decision is to ask: What smaller decisions that are _less _consequential or _more _reversible will help me sort out this big decision?

By breaking down a decision what we do is understand the key variables, manage our risks, and position ourselves to be flexible.

Typical big decisions pertain to career, finances, or relationships. Let’s imagine you’re trying to decide which career to pursue. The smaller questions could be: Do I want to commit to a job as X? Or, do I want to go to school and upskill first? If I want work experience, what is the ideal profile of companies I should look at? Then, can I do an internship with any? And so on.

If you don’t have a consequential-irreversible decision to make, take the next big one–a consequential-reversible decision. Breaking it down will teach you something to apply later and will clear the decks for the big ones coming your way in the future.

Tip 1: A good way to find out if you're working on the right things is to take any specific question occupying your mind and see if it links back to the big decision you’ve working on. If it doesn’t, take a close look at your calendar and rearrange things to reflect your priorities.

Tip 2: If you have no consequential decisions–highly unlikely–borrow one from the future. You will thank yourself for having done this.

If being able to differentiate between decisions is the first step, breaking down the biggest ones on your mind is the next. It gives you a bigger margin for error. So if you have a big decision to make, break it down.

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