We are notoriously bad at making decisions. We tend to use cursory evaluations, over simplify and generalize. We also accept the influence of others, situational factors and our emotions without realizing their sway.
Much of the business value and popularity of data-based decision making comes from offsetting these tendencies. When analyzed and presented well, data can simplify complex situations and override our cursory evaluations, emotions and external influences.
Our questionable tendencies for making decisions aren’t limited to our professional lives. The same factors are in our lives in general. Having tools to help with these decisions is as valuable as having tools to make business decisions. The popularity and effectiveness of apps that track exercise, diet and sleep make this point.
I’m in no way suggesting that you should base all of your life on data. Please don’t. There are enough others trying to reduce you and your life to data already.
Still considering our decision-making tendencies, having help is smart. Emotions and social pressures are powerful and real influencers, even if we are uncomfortable talking about them. Throughout our lives, they can lead down paths we would not rationally choose.
Instead of data, personal principles that are clear and tangible are a valuable tool for personal decision making. Like with data for business decisions, they help offset the less reliable and often unrealized factors that come into play in personal decisions.
To be effective, your personal principles need to ring true to you. The factors that influence your decisions are innate. Overcoming their sway requires a powerful antidote. One that can not only help you arrive at better decisions, but one that can evoke the fortitude to follow through on them.
Effective business intelligence systems require significant time and concerted effort to develop. The same is true with your personal principles. The difference here is that you are the one who makes the entire investment. Even so, the benefits will reach beyond yourself through the impact of your decisions and actions.
If you find value in data in your business life, consider making a similar investment in a tool for your life in general. The principles that can lead you to better decisions in your life are the substance of your personal philosophy.