When do we make decisions?

To get people to make better active decisions, we first have to look at when those decisions are made. I spoke to several people when trying to figure this out and it seems like it all comes back to feelings, which is not that weird when you think about it. However, it means that for everyday decisions, for most people, we can rule out trying to appeal mostly to reason. When it comes to the small but crucial decisions that make up a life we don’t make pro-con charts, we go by our gut feeling. For more important decisions there is also another complicated thing we do, we ask for advice, but we’ll get back to that later. If you go for a run, it’s most likely because you feel like going for a run or it’s part of some plan or system that you feel like following. If you grab that tub of ice-cream in the store it’s because you want ice-cream. Sometimes we also make decisions that are not beneficial to us in the long term because it feels good right now. Like sleeping in, eating unhealthy, laying on the couch for a day or procrastinating. Our urge for satisfaction is stronger than our motivation or willpower to do what we ‘ought’ to be doing. Some ways of influencing this pattern might be to make things that are rewarding in the long term more rewarding in the short term or simply to strengthen your willpower. It seems like the urge to make a decision, good or bad, builds up over time and is finally triggered by something. The more buildup the smaller the trigger can be. Like your unconscious telling you ‘Hey, pay attention to this!’. Maybe it is also possible to make this feeling of urgency build up faster or to trigger it when it is convenient to you.

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