Smart decision-making with your journal

Your journal is a very effective companion in helping you to make critical decisions. Using a journal will save you from mental overload, fears, mindless wander and other unpleasant experiences of decision making.

In this blog post, I want to share how I have been making decisions using my journal. Furthermore, I will reference journals of other successful people – like Benjamin Franklin – and how they made decisions.

Benefit of decision making with your journal

Decision-making is an inevitable and critical aspect of almost every human being. People who choose to use a journal enjoy the following benefits;

  • A defined process – having a process gives you confidence that you can make decisions in a structured manner using the process
  • Optimize for time – spending too little or too much time in preparing to decide can also be costly
  • Optimize for quality – our journal allows you to focus on the quality of your decision so that you don’t regret it later down the road
  • Articulating the decision – the cumulative benefit of deciding in your journal is that it guides you to articulate it with a pen and paper instead of looping endlessly in your mind

The best way to realize the benefits listed above is by practise. Thus, let’s talk about a framework you can start practising decision making with.

Framework for decision-making in your journal

The framework I like for decision making using a journal is inspired by Benjamin Franklin. As he noted in a letter to a friend;

“… my way is, to

  1. (prepare) divide half a sheet of paper by a line into two columns, writing over the one Pro, and over the other Con.
  2. (gather info) Then during three or four days consideration I put down under the different heads short hints of the different motives that at different times occur to me for or against the Measure.
  3. (prioritize info) When I have thus got them all together in one view, I endeavor to estimate their respective weights; and where I find two, one on each side, that seem equal, I strike them both out:
  4. (eliminate info) If I find a reason pro equal to some two reasons con, I strike out the three. If I judge some two Reasons con equal to some three Reasons pro, I strike out the five; and thus proceeding I find at length where the balance lies;
  5. (wait and make the decision) and if after a day or two of farther consideration nothing new that is of importance occurs on either side, I come to a determination accordingly” [Emphasis and steps added]

Here is a demonstration of Benjamin franklin’s decision-making framework:

Example of a decision making with Benjamin Franklin's Framework
Example of a decision making with Benjamin Franklin’s Framework. In this case, the “pros” outweigh the cons and you get to buy a car!

Following the above framework to make decisions will help you enjoy the benefits of good decision making and live a life with few poor or impulsive decisions.

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