How To Massively Improve Your Decision Making Skills [5 Mins]

improve decision making skills

Breaking scientific research is in. Apparently 15 minutes of mindfulness will significantly improve your decision making skills. Here’s everything you need to know.

One of the key ways in which meditation makes you more intelligent is that it improves your decision making skills.

According to research at The Wharton School and INSEAD (“The Business School for the World”) has revealed that fifteen minutes a day practicing mindfulness meditation significantly is one of the best forms decision making skills training a person can do.

People struggle to make the right decisions often because of a lack of acceptance. We stay in bad relationships for long periods of time; we continue to eat unhealthily, to not exercise and to not look after our health; we stay in an unsuitable job sometimes for years. This bad decision making is caused by a behaviour scientists term “sunk-cost bias.” As researcher Andre Hafenbrack states, “People struggle to admit that they were wrong when a previous decision leads to a negative outcome. They prefer not to feel wasteful and don’t like to believe their original decision and original investment was a loss.” This behaviour then leads them to think delude themselves into looking positively at bad decisions. “This causes them to lose more resources and more time.”

In their studies, Hafenback and his co-researchers discovered that mindfulness helps to remove people from the problem of “sunk-cost bias” by enabling people to see with more clarity and more acceptance. Mindfulness is such an effective form of decision making skills training because it removes people from sunk-cost bias.

“A brief period of mindfulness encourages individuals to make better decisions by considering the information available in the present moment while ignoring [the complications associated with ‘sunk cost bias’].”

The studies performed by INSEAD and The Wharton School tested the idea that 15 minutes of mindfulness meditation represented effective decision making skills training. In the study, individuals discussed how they focus on the present moment and read ten sunk-cost scenarios—which included such scenarios as attending a music festival which had already been paid for, while illness made enjoyment unlikely. The results of the test showed that after mindfulness meditation people were more focussed on the present moment and were more likely to make better quality decisions.

“Meditation reduces the amount of focus people place on the past and the future, and reduces negative emotions,” said Zoe Kinias, co-author of the research.

For a complete guide, read Journey To The Buddha Within You.


Also try these two techniques.



Developing Decision Making Techniques

This exercise for developing decision making techniques requires you to make quick decisions and also to splash out just a little bit of cash (literally pennies though, so don’t worry too much about that!) Essentially, we are going to make a few quick purchases at a local convenience store. You can buy candy or any other reasonably cheap item, but make sure to select a category of product from which you can choose 5 items for little cost.

There are a few reasons for doing this exercise to develop decision making techniques at a store. These are:

1)      Other people may be around, hence helping your ability to judge / evaluate publicly.

2)      The cost (though small) insures that you do at least invest some effort into your purchases.

3)      You get an instant reward for your work. Rewards are especially effective in training your brain. You want to make sure your brain associates the judging / evaluating work (the exercise) with a positive outcome (the candy).


In my experience this exercise is the best way to develop decision making skills. So, if you want to know how to have good decision making skills, this is it.

Part 1

1)      Make sure you have enough cash to buy 5 items of whichever category of product you have chosen.

2)      Visit your local conveniece store whenever is easiset for you.

3)      Spend at least a  few minutes looking over the items so you are aware of the possible choices you could make.

4)      List ten items that you might like to buy.

5)      Wittle that list down to 5 (hence practicing your ability to say NO to items)

6)      Order the 5 items you most want from 1 to 5

7)      Buy them (and tell the shopkeeper of! 😀

8)      Eat the first of your candies. The rest are the reward for part 2.



Steps for Developing Decision Making Techniques,Part 2

Do this part of the exercise later on the same day or even the next day.

1)      Choose one of the following items (choose the one you have the most emotional atachment to) : songs; movies; books; pictures / photos ; facebook friends ; twitter followers / following; cards (if you have collected cards youve recieved over the years)… these are just examples. Choose something you have an emotional connection to and of which you have at least 10 different examples (so you must have 10 favourite songs or movies, friends etc.)

2)      Take a few minutes to list your items in order from 1 to 10.

3)      Now, you are about to permanently throw away 5 of these items (mentally. You dont have to actually do it. Just pretend that you are going to throw them out or delete them etc.)

4)      Create two lists; one list of items that you will keep, the other of ones you will get rid of.

5)      Mentally imagine yourself saying goodbye to the 5 items on your “get rid of” list.

6)      Take a few minutes to look over the items you chose to keep. Recognise why you made your decision.

7)      Eat candy number 2  (or treat yourself in some other way; whatever works best for you).

Do this exercise regularaly to get used to evaluating various items. This will help you weigh up the value of products, ideas and much more and will greatly help with the decision making process.

Got any tips on how to improve your decision making skills? Leave a comment. 

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