"The decisions you make are like a portfolio of investments. I believe that almost everything can be viewed as a portfolio - whether it's a set of products a single company decides to make, the schools and jobs and skills an individual invests in, and all kinds of life decisions. The question is, how do we make sure that portfolio as a whole advances you toward your goals - even though any individual decision within it is a win or loss? All of us - not just investors - should be obsessed with making better decisions." - Marc Andreessen, cofounder of Netscape

Infinite possibilities collapse at the point of decision.

Every decision we make either takes us closer to our ideal or pushes us further away.

How you spend your time either exposes you or promotes you.

One approach is to simply do what is in front of you to do next. Clare Dimond goes into this concept deeper in her book Sane: Getting Real with Reality.

RE: If you're bored...

Do a PMI (Present Moment Investigation): Another way of saying become aware. Notice what you're missing. Life is never boring because you can always notice something new. Sometimes you just have to zoom in further. Read more about PMI here.

Indecision stems from...

  1. Fear
  2. Lack of confidence (or knowledge)
  3. Procrastination (or laziness)
  4. Uncertinity

Confidence: If you lack the knowledge, the solution is to gain the knowledge.

It's +1 or -1. Each decision has the potential to add or subtract value. How often do we decide without considering the outcome?

It's our beliefs and habits that shape our thoughts. It's our thoughts that determine our words. It's our words that determine our actions. Begin to notice the self talk. You can convince yourself of any decision, it's the wisdom that matters. Make the wise decision.

Every decision matters. Or does it?

Do you overthink the ramifications of every decision you make? If so, you are likely wearing out our decision muscle in unproductive ways.

I am guilty of this. I had to buy some AA batteries yesterday. I went on to amazon and was overwhelmed by the choices. I like to get the best deal, but also notice that some batteries last longer than others (I recently bought some from Harbor Freight, and although they were dirt cheap, they were burned out quickly).

Whether it’s to eat an apple or have a donut. Little decisions CAN matter. But big decisions have a bigger impact, but the point is that you want to make the hard ‘little' decisions now, then the larger hard decisions are easier later.

Consider the 80/20 rule: Less than 20% of your decisions make up 80% of the results.

A decision to refinance your house when interest rates are low is far more important than which gas station you go to.

Lots of businesses (including gas stations) could take a clue from businesses that have found ways to remove the decision fatigue for their clients.

The thing that was missing previously in the Merlin Principle - and which I now realize is most critical - is the language component. Just having the awareness of your future days is not enough - you have to implant the words that determine the direction you will go!

However… never live in a space of regret! Remember this - we always make the best decision we can the moment we make it. Hindsight is helpful, but regret is hateful.

Being enlightened helps us to make better decisions because we are aware when our emotions are influencing our decision to think, say, or do something.

This is idea of ‘fake it till you make it’ - which I have seen so much evidence to support!

Not only are we ‘Meaning Making Machines’ - but the beliefs we have (rooted in reality or not), define the majority of how we think. How we think determines how we speak. How we speak determines how we act, and what we get in life. It’s all rooted in our beliefs.

Choose beliefs that serve you. Let go of beliefs that no longer serve you (to reach your goals).

A belief is nothing but a feeling of certainty.

Our culture has many false beliefs. Yoga and meditation will help you see the truth. And the truth is rooted in a feeling of peace and contentment - similar to the sense of peace and joy I experience in yoga and mediation.

Since beliefs are rooted in a feeling of certainty - you can have ANYTHING you want if you believe it with enough certainty. Not only can we sense false certainty - but others can to. If you aren’t getting what you want, than you simply don’t have enough conviction for it.

Every decision closes off a number of possibilities and opens up others.

Once we decide, our options become limited. We must work within the confined space & time provided by our decision.

Like 'The Man' in the game Adventure, when we enter a room, our options are limited to what can exist in that room.

Our decisions are driven by feelings, not logic. The foods we eat have a real impact on our feelings. Therefore, the foods you eat have an indirect impact on the decisions you make.

Decision Fatigue

Why is it so difficult to choose a donut? Or an ice cream flavor?

The reason I love my monthly subscriptions to my barber, carwash, and yoga studio is because it removes decision fatigue. One step up would be letting a company like Blue Apron decide what you will eat this week.

Are you paralyzed by the array of choices when you look at a menu? One of the great things about IN-N-OUT burger is the simplicity it it's menu. I bet 9/10 you order the same thing.

Q. If I offered you a program where I handled all your decisions, how much would that be worth?

3 Decision Tests

Great decision‐makers know when to decide quickly and when to slow down to gather more information. Decide quickly if a decision passes ANY of these three tests:

1. Happiness Test

Zoom Out. Many decisions, like what to eat, watch, and wear, will have little impact on your happiness a week from now (i.e., you quickly recover from a bad outcome).

The next time you’re stuck on a decision, conduct The Happiness Test by asking yourself: “Will my happiness, a week from now, depend on this decision?” If not, decide quickly. Just ask yourself if you even remember what you ordered for dinner a week ago.

2. Only‐Option Test

Most decisions are actually just a matter of choosing the best option (both are satisfactory, but one might be better than the other). This a matter of establishing your criteria for the 'right' decision.

Consider that it's actually a matter of a threshold - but our values are a factor.

When deciding to make a purchase, we have to weigh in on more information than ever before, and making a decision becomes more difficult.

Being decisive is about determining if the choice will meet your standards - if it does, pick one and move on. The differences are not worth fretting over. Maybe you just need to flip a coin and let fate decide. The faster you pick, the sooner you'll reap the benefits of whatever it is! the more time you’ll have to prepare for your vacation.

Ask yourself: “If this were my only option, would I happily take it?” If so, decide quickly.

3. Two‐Way Door Test

“Some decisions are one‐way doors… If you walk through and don't like what you see on the other side, you can't get back to where you were before. But most decisions aren't like that ‐ they are changeable, reversible ‐ they're two‐way doors. If you've made a sub‐optimal two‐way door decision, you don't have to live with the consequences for that long. You can reopen the door and go back through.” – Jeff Bezos

Determine if a decision is a two‐way door decision by routinely asking yourself: “What is the cost of quitting?” If the cost of quitting is low, decide quickly.
The happiness test, the only‐option test, and the two‐way door test are three quick methods to help you be more decisive.

Big Decisions

Occasionally you’ll run into a decision that could have a significant impact on your happiness, where no single option you would be happy with, where the cost of quitting is high. When this happens, you need to postpone your decision until you have more information, and can define your criteria.

Construct Decision Targets

Every decision depends on your estimate of the future. The quality of a decision is determined by the criteria we've determined - so it's subjective.

“Most decisions should probably be made with somewhere around 70% of the information you wish you had.” ~ Jeff Bezos

Quantify a successful outcome. Imagine the best possible outcome (a bullseye). Now look at the outcomes that would still land somewhere on the board. The beauty of this is that YOU get to define the boundaries of the board.

Next - ask yourself: What is the likelihood that the outcome would land off the board? And what's the worst possible outcome if it did?

"I didn't know from day-to-day that today wasn't the day. As long as I had something out there, someone somewhere could say yes to me today. Never give up hope because today could be the day!" ~ Wendelin Van Draanen

One of the limits can be tied to a date. For me, deadlines give my overflowing list of todos structure. Deadlines allow me to filter what is important. I often remind myself "What's important now is what matters, what's important later will reveal itself in time." What I mean by 'time' is deadline.

The idea of a bucketlist becomes far more real once we have a deadline with real consequences. If we don't take action, time runs out and it's game over.

What might be at the root cause of your anxiety is the simple fact that you haven't defined the criteria of when you'll be done, or quit, or let it go.

Example: I was asked by a client to try and find a way to liquidate his inventory of books. To find a vendor or distributor who would the books he had remaining (i.e. remainders). And so I put some time into it - identified some companies that might be interested and made some inquiries. None were interested. But as long as the milestone stayed open, I felt tension to keep looking.

After you've determined the upper and lower bound (estimates), conduct a 'Shock Test.' Ask yourself: “Would I be shocked if the result was higher than my upper bound and lower than my lower bound?”

Search for information that will refine your target: adjust your upper bound, lower bound, and best guess (i.e., shrink your target width and adjust your bullseye).

When you search for information, share your upper bound, lower bound, and bullseye estimate with people who have relevant experience.

Knowledge Tracker

Put whatever information you find while refining your upper bound, lower bound, and bullseye in a notebook labeled “Knowledge Tracker.” When you write down everything you learn during the pre‐decision phase in your “Knowledge Tracker” notebook, you are less likely to beat yourself up if you get a bad result since you can look back and see that you went to great lengths to make an informed decision.

There will come a point when you need to stop researching and estimating and make a decision…but when?

Going Further