How To Make Decisions Like An Optimist

The next time you face a tough decision, here’s something to keep in mind.

Pessimism influences our decisions more than optimism.

That’s because pessimism — in the form of fear, insecurity, and doubt— often colors our perception of choices and leads us to make bad decisions.

But it doesn’t have to be that way.

Incorporating optimism into our analysis of a problem allows us to more accurately assess it and make better decisions.

Here are a few simple ways to ensure your decisions are not skewed by a pessimistic outlook.

Assume success, not failure.

It’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking only about what might go wrong when we make a decision.

We focus on what will happen if our decision fails and obsess over how that failure will feel.

But that leads us to make decisions based on our perception of which option is the least painful, as opposed to which is the most rewarding.

Instead, envision the best possible outcome for each option. If option A works out perfectly, what will happen? How will we feel about it? Will we get what we want?

And if option B works out perfectly will it make us more or less happy than option A?

Examining choices through a prism of potential success in addition to failure presents us a more balanced depiction of those options.

Look for reasons you can, not reasons you can’t.

With any decision we make, it’s easy to list the reasons we can’t make it. But it’s just as easy to list the reasons we can.

We tend to give the reasons we can’t do something more influence when it comes to our final decision, which is dangerous.

Instead of dwelling on why a choice isn’t right for us, we can flip it around and ask, “Why NOT me?”

Why can’t I be the kind of person who makes that choice? Why can’t I be the one who takes the risk? Why can’t I be the one who succeeds?

The reasons we can’t choose something are only valid if we also take into account the reasons we can and recognize they’re just as valid.

Trust that you won’t fall off a cliff.

Our inner pessimist implies a bad decision won’t just result in a minor fender-bender —it will send our lives careening over a cliff and crashing down in a fiery blaze.

But that’s not true.

Terrible choices rarely damage us as much as our pessimistic outlook predicts.

We need to counter our fear with optimism and remind ourselves that even if we make a bad choice, we’ll be able to recognize it and correct course.

The belief that even if we’re wrong we’ll still be OK can impact our decision-making process in powerful ways.

Believe in others.

It’s easy to become jaded and assume people can’t be trusted, that they’ll let us down or fail to deliver.

But that’s pessimism — not reality.

Rather than allow our decisions to be influenced by the handful of bad people we’ve encountered over the years, choose instead to be influenced by the wonderful people we’ve encountered.

And those wonderful people are the majority — even if at times it may not feel like it.

An optimistic view of human nature serves us well when it comes to making decisions.

Because more often than not, people rise or fall to the expectations we place on them.

If we expect the worst of them, we inevitably treat them as such and receive that same treatment in return.

But if we give them the benefit of the doubt and make decisions based on that philosophy, more often than not it will work out in our favor.

At least that’s what I choose to believe, because I’m an optimist.

And that optimism is what made me decide to publish this post.