Dave Lovemartin

Making your mind up

Making sound decisions using mental models

last tended: 22.02.2024

To help me think things through, I write.

By slowing down, putting pencil to paper and crafting sentences, I move past my intial thoughts, reflect on what else I know and imagine new possibilties.

But when you make decisions, are you just acting on instinct, or do you have a method?

Imagine this scenario: you have your own decision journal, a candid companion that records the intricate details of your thoughts during the moments when you were navigating through your decision-making process.

With a decision journal, you can avoid hindsight bias, the tendency to think “I knew it all along” and discipline ourselves to make explicit predictions.

By looking back at our decisions and reading what you actually thought at the time can help reveal improvements to your decision making process.

To make a decision, follow these steps:

But don’t stop here, think “And then what?“.

This is called Second-order thinking. Contemplating further along the cause and effect chain, can identify unintentional consequences.

Time-travel your mind – flash forward 10 minutes, then zoom to 10 months, and 10 years! What could be the rollercoaster of ramifications are you setting into motion?

Second order thinking is a mental model we can apply to decision making.

Mental models are patterns your brain uses to figure stuff out — frameworks that help you look at problems through different lenses.

Mental models, can help make sense of the world.

Reflecting on your experience understanding the facts leading up to the decision, how you applied the mental model, and the consequences of your actions help you become a little wiser.

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