Beware your first decisions of 2009!

It’s the first week of January and customary for us to make new or renewed vows.  Before you do, consider this advice: Once you decide something – anything really – it sets a precedent for yourself and you are quite likely to repeat that decision regardless of the quality of the choice.  Recently we filmed Dan Ariely, author of Predictably Irrational, and he has a short bit of advice warning us that what we decide once, we may be doomed to repeat regardless of the value of that decision.  Consider the common impulse to go to the packed restaurant, as opposed to the relatively less attended restaurant across the street, or across town.  Your impulse tells you that since many people fraternize that establishment, it must be better – and perhaps the crowd is right.  Barry Libert, James Surowiecki and others have built compelling arguments that the crowd knows far better than what you alone think is best, but Dan cautions against the inconsiderate repetitiveness of this kind of decision-making.

Surowiecki demonstrates the wisdom of crowds by showing that in the show “Who Wants to Be A Millionaire?”, by far (91%) the audience is more helpful an accomplice than phoning a friend or the 50/50 option to reduce choices.  Ariely agrees that the market in general can be a powerful ally in decision-making but this process must be revisited repeatedly to reconfirm whatever you decide.  So instead of effectively standing in line behind yourself – since you are following your first decision – his advice is to re-evaluate the quality of that decision each time.

Change is inevitable, growth is intentional.  – Glenda Cloud