Making major decisions, like whether or not to move cross-country for a job, can be seriously stressful. And even minor dilemmas—like which lunch place to choose or which project to work on first—can sometimes feel like life or death. But there are ways to ensure that you make the smartest possible choice every time, without the stressful hemming and hawing. Here, three secrets to never experiencing decision regret again.
Go With Your Gut
There are two types of decision-makers, according to researchers from Swarthmore College. The first are maximizers, who take their time weighing all their options, carefully going over the pros and cons to arrive at the right choice. The second type, satisficers, make a snap-judgment pick, even if it means settling for good enough. Neither type makes better decisions than the other, according to researchers, but the satisficers tend to be happier with their call. So let go of your anxiety about making the so-called perfect decision and just go with your first instinct instead.
Make the Bigger Ones in the Morning
If you peek into the President Obama’s closet, you’ll see only blue and grey suits. Why’s that? He's opting out of small decisions—what color suit should I wear?—early in the morning, so he can save his cognitive resources for truly big-ticket judgments. Here's why this is smart: Research shows that every choice you make throughout the day, from what to wear to where to eat, saps your mental energy a little more. After too many decisions, your ability to make the right one suffers. (And hey, the one time Obama deviated from his blue-grey routine, with that now-infamous tan suit, there was hell to pay!) You don’t have to streamline your wardrobe to outsmart this phenomenon, known as decision fatigue. Just mull over major choices in the a.m., when your cognitive resources are still sharp.
Pretend You’re Deciding for Someone Else
When you’re faced with a tough dilemma, do a little role playing: imagine that a close friend is going through the same situation you're facing and asks you for advice. A study in the journal Psychological Science found that taking an outsider’s perspective of your problem eliminates what's called the Solomen’s Paradox—or the tendency to make less wise choices when you’re considering a personal matter than when you’re focusing on someone else’s quandary.