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7 pitfalls to avoid while exploring decision choices

Exploring alternatives is the first step in the exploring stage of the decision-making process. Here are seven pitfalls to avoid while exploring your decision choices.

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Seven common mistakes done while exploring decision options

1. Anchoring

Watch out for anchoring. One of the most common traps in decision-making is to anchor on a single alternative (often the status quo) and tweak it.

To minimize this bias, focus on the objectives. Comparing alternatives outcomes to the objectives will let you know the difference.

For example, you are not satisfied with your current work. The decision objectives will be salary, working environment, prestige, career advancement, working hours, fringe benefits, and workplace distance.

Comparing job alternatives according to specified objectives will let you choose a job that tackles your job dissatisfaction instead of getting a new job that is similar to the old one.

2. Labeling

Avoid labeling the alternatives with names that add feeling, as this may lead to the inability to choose or to eliminate options.

For example, labeling a company you are applying to with “rusty” or “poor,” such labeling will make you exclude these options, although, by objective comparison, they might turn out to be the best option.

3. Sunken bias

Take care not to give precedence to alternatives that justify past decisions or financial or time expenditures, or political and personal commitments.

Always think about the future; don’t get stuck in the past.

For example, we invested in a relationship for years, and we are not suitable for each other anymore. However, it’s hard to make the decision to break up.

We always overestimate the value of the time lost in the past relationship, which makes the decision of breaking up harder.

Staying in a bad relationship will make things worse and will not compensate you for your lost time.

4. Limited resources

Always question the constraints for each alternative, whether it’s time, location, resources, or traditions.

Limited resources may also let you exclude options, although current resources should not hold you back from exploring.

Exploring the alternatives may open opportunities to increase your resources.

5. Social traditions

Social traditions and norms may act as an early exclusion filter for decision-making problems.

Remember, all tough decisions are taboo until you cross that bridge. The feeling of being an outlier may hinder you from sometimes making the best decision in your life.

Think of Bill Gates dropping out of college to start his own company.

6. Peer pressure

Peer pressure may hold you back from making a decision.

Imagine all your friends are drinking alcohol on Friday night outing. Thinking of quitting drinking is a much harder decision if you are considering your friend’s acceptance and understanding.

7. Gather more knowledge

Do you need to gather more facts and knowledge regarding your problem? Inadequate information may make some alternatives appear less plausible.


Exploring different decision choices is essential in any decision-making process. Being aware of decision biases and pitfalls will help you make your next great decision.

A. I. Shoukry is the founder of The Decisions Academy and a bestselling author.

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