Decisions, Decisions

decision-making Nov 09, 2021

The world we currently live in is surrounded by knowledge and facts.  The internet has become the go-to place to search for new information,  the answer to a riddle,  a funny skit or even medical diagnosis.  The question is often asked whether we can sometimes wait for too much information before we make a decision and in that respect how much is too much.

The late General Colin Powell famously quoted the 40-70% rule of decision-making.  The rule would state that, if you make a decision with less than 40% of the information you were making a guess - a stab in the dark approach, shooting from the hip.  There wouldn’t have been enough information to assess the risks, consequences and the possible outcomes of taking such a decision.  While there was a chance that you could succeed you could just as likely, fail.  

If however, you wait to make a decision until you know more than 70% of the information then you may have waited too long and will probably have missed the opportunity.  At this point you may have over-thought the consequences, been dissuaded to make the necessary changes and ultimately been left standing stationary. 

So what does 40-70% information look like. The sweet spot is making decisions armed with enough information that you know what your options are, have analysed some of the consequences etc but are not waiting so long that the momentum has passed and the opportunity has gone.   

Relating this information to everyday life rather than US military conflict, research shows that we make thousands of health-related decisions everyday.  This includes what to eat, how much to eat, do I eat later? What’s this fasting all about?  Should I go to the gym? Should I do meditation?  Thankfully these decisions, at least in the short-term, are not life or death decisions and the consequences of making health-related changes are normally all for the positive.  However we shouldn’t be fooled because, even with these relatively simple decisions, we can often wait so long that we never get round to actually making these changes. 

How often have you said, “tomorrow I’ll begin that new exercise” but in the name of the movie, Tomorrow never comes!

In summary, if you’ve been thinking about making some new health-related changes to your life, do spend time learning about the consequences and the benefits, but remember, if you wait to know all the facts it is very likely that tomorrow may never come!

Author: Dr Adam Greenfield,  Co-founder - WorkLifeWell  | Chiropractor | Wellness Specialist

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