Default Decision Making
What would happen if what you wanted to do was also the easiest thing to do?
I read recently that the average person makes 35,000 decisions in a typical day. Thirty-five thousand! That’s a lot. One of the results of making that many decisions is that we have a bias towards making decisions that are easy. Whatever the easiest decision to make, we will tend to make that, more often than not. Businesses know that. So you go to your typical grocery store, you’ll find that products at eye level on the shelves sell more, because it is simply easier for us to pick those than make the decision to bend down to see what is on the bottom shelf.
I’ve read that Google pays Firefox something like $100 million dollars a year to be the default search engine. So if you are on Firefox and you type in something to search, automatically Google is the search engine that is used. Now it would only take typing in a couple of letters and one click to use Bing, but it is so easy to use Google because it is the default, and that is worth a lot of money. Now we can use that truth to our advantage when we make decisions.
For example, let’s say you want to cut back on soda, one way to do that is carrying around a water bottle with you. It’s just easier to take a sip of the water bottle than go get a soda. If you want to spend less time surfing the net, here’s a simple thing to do: when you are on Facebook, and you leave it, close the tab, don’t leave the tab open, because that one step of having to open the tab to Facebook will result in you opening it less often.
It’s a simple thing, but we tend to do what is the easiest thing. So think of that – you want to cut back on the amount of junk food you eat? Don’t make a rule, just don’t have it in your house, so you have to go out to get it. Just having to do that one extra thing, which will not be the easiest thing, will work in your favor, it will make you less likely to do it. So start looking at your life in terms of: How do I set this up to be the easiest thing? Something is going to be the easiest, right?
There is always a decision that is the easiest about everything. Well, why don’t we be intentional about that? Decide ahead of time what the easiest thing is going to be, what’s going to be the most visible or at hand and do that. Identify the things that are most important and set those up to be easy. Your life has a lot of defaults in them, things that are automatic or that are the easiest, but they don’t necessarily take you to where you want to go. But if you set them up intentionally, they can. You can choose to design your own default decisions, and what will end up happening is you’ll do more of what you want, easier because you’ve made it that way.
So try it, and let me know how it goes!