Difficult Decisions

Making a decision boils down to choosing one of several alternative courses of actions, or alternatives.

Two aspects can make a decision difficult. One is obvious: the pros and cons of each alternative are numerous and/or complex. Say you have to choose between two or more romantic interests. The pros and cons of each are not only subtle and difficult to put into words, let alone simplify, they are also matters of the heart.  Such complex decisions are common and can drain our energy.

Another perhaps less obvious difficulty occurs when the alternatives all have similar merit. Perhaps you have two or more conflicting social engagements, all exciting. How do you choose? During the development of our iOS app Decide™ we observed a class of decisions where all the alternatives were more or less tied for first place. When we used Decide™ to calculate precise scores for each alternative, they were within 1% - 3% of each other. Without doing that arithmetic it would be difficult for a person to discern that there was a winning alternative at all.

When one is on the horns of a dilemma it can be helpful to know that there is actually a winning alternative, mathematically speaking. Sometimes we need a little nudge to decide. The key aspect of a decision is actually making the decision. We eventually have to decide. Making a sub-optimal or even flawed decision is usually better than not making a decision at all.

That is possibly the most important aspect of using a decision-making tool: to show us that there is a winner.  Then we can go ahead and choose that winner and get on with life.

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