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How to make effective decisions (like Jeff Bezos)

Updated: May 9

Did you know you make about 35,000 decisions every single day? 🤯

Some are easy and automatic. Others deserve thought and time. Either way, decision making requires multiple executive functions. 

  • Have you ever deliberated on what Netflix movie to watch for the length of the movie itself? 

  • Are you still thinking about moving to a new city? 

  • Paralyzed by your to-do list? 

Let’s dive into making quicker, more effective decisions. 

Why can’t I make decisions? 

Decision making requires multiple executive functions like emotional control, working memory, and impulse control. This is why it is difficult. This is especially true for neurodivergent adults, like adults with ADHD.

Emotions like fear, anxiety, and confusion (the same emotions that cause procrastination) make it feel like every decision is a life-changing moment. But, most decisions are reversible. 

Our lack of decisiveness can be self-limiting. Sometimes we miss out on huge opportunities.

I waited years to start my own business. Fear held me back. Now, I wish I took the leap earlier.

So how can we make decisions efficiently? It begins by understanding that not all decisions are created equal.  

executive dysfunction

Two types of decisions

In 1997, Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon and an executive function master, introduced a simple yet effective way to categorize decisions. It was intended for business, but you can use it too. 

Bezos states there are two types of decisions: one-way doors and two-way doors. 

One-Way Doors 🚪🔒

These decisions are irreversible and have significant consequences. Take your time, weigh the pros and cons, and consult with others before acting. 

For example:

  • buying a car or home

  • quitting a job

  • getting married

Two-Way Doors 🔄

These are reversible decisions. If you open a two-way door and don't like what you see, you can backtrack. These decisions should be taken seriously but acted upon quickly. 

For example:

  • trying a new diet

  • applying for a job

  • moving to a new city

How can I make better decisions?

Now that you have a decision making framework, let’s think about this for a moment…MOST decisions are two-way doors. 

Two-way door decisions create opportunities to experiment and learn. If we don’t get it right, so what? Worst case, you learned something about yourself.

People with strong executive functions often make decisions quickly. This is because they've made many two-way door decisions in the past. They learned and adapted from their experiences rather than avoiding risks.

Your decision making guide

Next time you're faced with a choice, remember that not all decisions are created equal.

Then, ask yourself these questions:

How to make effective decisions:

  1. Can I change my mind at a later date with minimal financial repercussions?

    1. if yes, it is a two-way door

    2. if no it is a one-way door

  2. Can I change my decisions at a later date with minimal emotional consequences?

    1. if yes, it is a two-way door

    2. if no it is a one-way door

Once you know what type of door you are opening you can take action. Here's how:

  • One-way door: do research, weigh the pros and cons, and carefully decide.

  • Two-way door: set a deadline and make your decision swiftly.

decision making

Your Challenge This Week

1. Think about a decision you’ve been delaying. 

2. Categorize it: Is it a one-way or two-way door? 

3. If it is a two-way door, take action before the end of the day. If it is a one-way door, schedule time on your calendar to weigh the pros and cons. 

If you're still struggling, reach out for a no-cost, one-on-one session. 

P.S. That's a two-way door decision 👆. 

Want to join our next cohort of Adult EF Skills 101?

We know adulting is HARD. It demands strong executive functions. Luckily, we've made a course to cover the fundamentals so you can make the best of each day. In this course, you will:

  • Learn how to plan your priorities 🎯

  • Learn to get started (task initiate) 🔨

  • Learn how to keep things tidy 🧺

  • Learn how to find and keep a job 👩‍💻

  • Learn how to communicate effectively 🗣️

  • Learn how to budget 🤑

Stay Engaged

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About the Author

Eric Kaufmann, M.Ed is a Professional Educational Therapist and Certified Executive Function Coach. He is the Co-founder of UpSkill Specialists, an online adult executive function coaching company designed to guide adults in overcoming disorganization, procrastination, and productivity roadblocks so they can unlock their potential. Eric is also the founder of Elevate Learning Solutions, an Educational Therapy practice located in San Clemente, CA, that guides students with neurological differences toward becoming independent and confident students and self-leaders.

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About 👋

Upskill Specialists was founded when two former special education teachers turned executive function coaches decided that adults need tools and coaching to improve their workplace skills and feel confident and empowered. Our mission is to ensure every adult with EF challenges has access to high-quality coaching services. 

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