How long do we really ponder major life decisions? - ChoiceCompass
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How long do we really ponder major life decisions?

18 May How long do we really ponder major life decisions?


“I never realized how little I made myself think about major life choices!”

That’s one of several pieces of feedback I’m getting consistently from Choice Compass users. By asking you to think of all possible outcomes of life choices for about a minute while it records your heart activity, Choice Compass turns out to be one of the few tools that force people to meditate on their choices.

I recognized a lack of focus on life choices when I was testing Choice Compass on myself, and the beta testers I used mentioned this as well — we were all a bit surprised that a minute seemed like a lengthy time to think about important life decisions!

It turns out that beyond the usefulness of Choice Compass for accessing our body’s wisdom, the simple idea that it’s good to let your mind wander to possible futures is supported by recent research. One recent paper (Mind Wandering for Behavior Change) looks at how simple fantasizing about the future is not constructive, but instead imagining outcomes and obstacles — and how one might overcome them — turns out to produce important changes in behavior.

This recent paper (Mind Wandering for Decision Making) reveals data suggesting that when people use mind wandering to make a decision, their satisfaction in their choice is just as high as the satisfaction of people who analytically deliberated over their decision.

Is Choice Compass asking users to mind wander or deliberate? Well, in a way, it’s doing both. Asking you to focus on all possible outcomes of a choice is a form of guided mind-wandering. Gently, you pull yourself back to the focus when you stray from it. Then, asking you to compare these outcomes with all possible outcomes of a contrasting choice is a form of deliberation — this versus that, which will it be?

In the end, you can go with Choice Compass’ recommendation, you can go with something that occurred to you when you were focusing on outcomes, and/or you can go with your initial hunch. The important point here is that you let yourself see what benefit you can bring to your choice-making process by giving yourself two new tools: focused mind-wandering and physiological wisdom.


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