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Developing a Firewall for the Mind

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I heard a great quote while on a webinar with Author and Wired Editor, Jonah Lehrer.  He was discussing the Paradox of Choice and Decision Theory, he said to think about the “why,” and “what” decision we are trying to make.  Doing so can help us “…avoid, avoidable mistakes.”  The essence of this boils down to the conscious choices we make and how the brain processes rewards and expectations.  It’s a really meaty topic that I’m interested in learning more about.  For now, I decided to jump in and start applying what I heard.

His quote has been stuck in my head for weeks now.  Lately, I’ve been really thinking about the “why” and “what” of the choices I make every day. What I’m discovering is that these questions act like a firewall for the mind.  Keeping out the most harmful stuff and allowing in most of what will benefit me.

For example, I recently purchased a truck.  Originally I had it loaded with tons of additional options.  When I sat down and ran my decision through this filter, I ended not taking any of the options.  My new mental firewall saved me roughly ten grand.

As I’m writing this post I’m on a much needed vacation.  I even ran my vacation through the “why and what” machine, and I ended up staying local instead of traversing globe.  The vacation decision was both professional and personal.  I needed a break from what has been a particularly busy schedule.  But, after much thought, I didn’t need to break from my home life.  In fact, I really felt the need to stay mostly local.  Not only did this decision keep my bank account topped off, it turns out I really needed to spend time with my family in their normal routine.  Going to the store, piano practice, playing catch in the backyard and all the things I take for granted.  It has only been a few days but its been wonderful.

I’m starting to run my professional goals through this as well.  If you do any mind mapping, this thought process may materially alter your goal setting, decision tree, etc.  A good starting point is workshifting goals.  When asking people why they workshift, the standard answers tend to be around freedom, family time, independence, etc.  Now take those answers and ask yourself “why,” and “what” decision am I really making?  The answer could lead you in a surprising direction.
Ok, I’m starting to sound like a fortune cookie.  See what it’s all about, and I think you’ll find it as fascinating as I do.


Photo Credit: Air Force One

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  • http://www.puredriven.com Patrick Garmoe

    It’s funny how much easier decisions become, when we simply asked why we’re making them.

    • https://twitter.com/DavidBaeza David Baeza

      It sounds so rudimentary, but that extra step has stopped me in my tracks several times. Thanks for the comment.

  • http://edwardmanning.com/ Edward Manning

    Do you have a link for the webinar? It sounds really interesting.

    • https://twitter.com/DavidBaeza David Baeza

      Hi Edward. I don’t have a link. I am part of a private networking group called Creative Good, and he was a speaker on one of the calls. However, if you check his blog all of the information is there. Really great stuff.