Stop stressing so much about decisions, says science

Feb 26, 2015

Not a day goes by where we aren’t faced with hundreds, if not thousands of tiny decisions.

Most of them are insignificant:
“Do I wear the same clothes as I did yesterday?”
“Do I make lunch or get it delivered?”
“Do I really need ANOTHER cup of coffee?”

I’m certainly more indecisive than most of you, but I’m certainly not the only one that gets caught up in small, insignificant decisions, endlessly weighing the pros and cons, only to regret my decision as soon as I’ve made it….right?

Either way, a team of researchers from Carnegie Mellon University and Harvard Business School recently released a study that tells us that it’s time for us to all stop sweating the small stuff.

According to the MIT Sloan’s coverage of the report, the research “suggests that people who make decisions more spontaneously--by allowing their thoughts to wander until they arrive at a choice that they feel drawn to--can be as satisfied with their decisions as those who choose more deliberately.”

How did they test this? In short, the researchers asked study participants to choose one of five art posters. The first group was instructed to use rational decision making and give careful consideration to their choice, while the second group was simply told to use “mind wandering as a decisions strategy” and simply choose the poster they felt most drawn to.

In the end, “those who chose posters using mind wandering generally liked and valued their selections as much as those who deliberated over their choices in a more controlled way.”

So freelancers, let’s take this as a quick reminder that we don’t need to scientifically analyze each and every decision we make each day -- the fact is we’ll probably be happier for NOT giving all of that undue attention to simple, day-to-day choices. Save that analytical energy and brain power for something more important, like building your client base or making your art.

Want to learn more? Read the full study right here.