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Don’t Let Uncertainty Paralyze Your Decision-Making

Publish Date: September 23, 2020

You can make careful, reasoned decisions by taking a strategic pause to stop and assess what information you have — and what you’re missing. First, identify what kind of data you’re working with and biases that might accompany it. For example, some data captures our attention because it's surprising, but we might overweigh it because it’s new or noteworthy. Next, identify which information matters most to your decision-making. There are an endless number of “known unknowns” out there, and exploring them all won’t help you. Instead ask yourself: What do I really need to know to move forward? Finally, formulate questions that will help you get the answers you need. Organize your questions into four categories — behavior, opinion, feeling, and knowledge — so that you bring both distance and a variety of perspectives to how you interpret the data. Following these practices will help you better address your emotional responses, name and confront them, and make more rational decisions in the face of uncertainty.

From HBR.org, this tip is adapted from How to Make Rational Decisions in the Face of Uncertainty,” by Cheryl Strauss Einhorn.