Most decisions in life don’t matter much, for example what’s for dinner, what to wear, what to watch, music to listen to, etc. These decisions should be made on the spot, and don’t require spending a huge amount of mental energy.
However, some decisions matter a lot. For example, your choice of long-term goals will have a huge impact on how you organize your life. This not only requires deep thinking, but requires gestation time as well: This means letting go of the decision and give it to the subconscious part of your brain to work on it: This is the part of your brain which never sleeps and works twenty-four hours a day for you in the background. This is why you have great ideas after a good night sleep.
Optimal Gestation Time
Everyone has an optimal gestation time. Mine is 72 hours. If I need to make an important decision, I will always try to postpone making the decision for 72 hours. After that, I have gained more wisdom and I know I will make better decisions.
Here are some applications to use gestation time to improve your decision making:
- Buying: If you still want an expensive item after 72 hours, you know it’s not an impulse buy.
- Hiring: If the candidate still looks good after 72 hours, go for it.
- Writing: Re-read an important piece of work after 72 hours, and chances are you will see plenty of angles to make it significantly better.
- Opportunity: If the new (business) opportunity still makes you want to giggle with excitement after 72 hours, it’s probably worth pursuing.
- Broadsides: If after 72 hours you still need to vent your anger to someone else with a stern letter, angry phone call, or clever haiku, do it! You have probably gained enough perspective to avoid shooting yourself in the foot.
Thus, wisdom is the habit to use speed to make quick decisions on unimportant stuff, and use gestation time to make better decisions on important stuff. Something to think about….
Photo Credit: iStockPhoto/matt_benoit