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3 Reasons You Make Terrible Decisions (and How to Stop)

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3 Reasons You Make Terrible Decisions (and How to Stop)

Decisions in life come down to trade-offs. And it just so happens we’re really bad at evaluating trade-offs.

Mark Manson,

5 min read
5 take-aways
Audio & text

What's inside?

Every choice involves a trade-off of costs and benefits. Make better decisions by outwitting your brain.

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Every decision you make involves trade-offs between cost and benefit, risk and reward, effort and result. Mark Manson identifies three factors that inevitably interfere with wise decision-making – responses that evolution baked into your brain. He outlines options for becoming more self-aware so you can defeat your cognitive glitches. Learn how to make easy, poor choices less appealing and how to make hard but worthy decisions easier. You can ensure that your values inform your choices and thus take responsibility for the shape of your life.


Every decision involves weighing costs and benefits – and people are pretty lousy at making those evaluations.

With every choice you make, you reject a potential infinity of options. No decision comes without an opportunity cost. Making a good choice means the positive outcome is worth the cost. What do good trade-offs look like? A modest risk with the likelihood of a disproportionally large return is a sound bargain. Risking a lot for a small gain is a poor choice.

To make this assessment, figure out what counts as a “good outcome.” You have to know what you value, because values are the standard by which you assess costs and benefits. You can’t be decisive if you don’t know what’s important to you.

Experience shows that good decisions are often inherently difficult to carry out, and bad choices are remarkably easy to stumble into. As a species, people are notably bad at accurately weighing the advantages and perils of choices. The human brain comes wired with these flaws. The best course is to become aware of them and learn to compensate.

Bad decisions are the result of emotional derailment, the unrecognized effects of the passage of time and...

About the Author

Blogger Mark Manson is the author of the New York Times bestsellers The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck and Everything is F*cked: A Book About Hope

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