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Balancing System: My first decision-making software

This is the story of how and why I built a decision-making software.

1995, I was in high school, the internet was on the rise. We had an Apple Macintosh SE computer with a dial-up modem 2.4kb/sec speed attached to it.

I started to learn the HyperTalk language to program HyperCard stacks, a program for Apple computers. After that, I decided to write a software program to help me with daily life problems and call it “Balancing System 1.0” as version number 1.

Balancing System 1.0: A decision-making software

decision making software
Decision-making software: Balancing System 1.0

Back then, life was easy. My daily decisions were to choose between going out with friends or staying at home. Should I order a pizza or make my own food? Will I travel with my friends or stay with my parents for the next vacation? These were the hard decisions and life, was good.

Days and years have passed, and still, people have similar decision dilemmas. In 2017 I rediscovered my decision-making software while reflecting on my life after turning 40.

The software ignited me to write my first book on decision-making, In or Out: A practical guide to decision-making. I was so excited to find it on archive.org, where you can download it on their virtual Mac simulator and actually run the program.

Decision domains

The software compared two decisions based on 8 domains:

  • Happiness (level of expected happiness)
  • Activity (work – romance – social visit – friends)
  • Waste (time – money – effort – or clean)
  • Entertainment (music – film – computer sports)
  • Transportation (difficulty in means of transportation)
  • Appearance (I guess I meant my personal appearance – perfect – normal – bad)
  • Place (location visited – health – comfort – safety)
  • Prestige (I think I meant my appearance in the eyes of the others – increase – decrease – constant)

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Assigning values

For each item, I determined a hidden field with a prefilled value. Values can be changed according to priorities. For example, I may give to friends – romance – work, values of 20 – 15 – 10 respectively.

At the start of the program, you name the two choices of the decision problem.

A separate screen with the 8 domains is displayed for each choice. You then check the checkboxes for the 8 decision domains according to your priorities. Values are hidden by default and can be changed anytime.

For example, if I check “Friends” under the “Activity” domain checkbox, a value of 20 will be added to the total value of this decision choice.

The software’s idea is to make decisions according to your principles and values. So it’s you who decide the numerical values for the different decision domains. And whenever you choose, you should not change the values unless you change your principles or priorities.

A personal statement that includes your vision, mission, principles, and values does not change regularly. However, you may visit it from time to time to understand where you are standing and going.

Hidden values are to protect your decisions from impulses, feelings, and desires.

Balancing System 1.0. is for people who want to live a balanced life, between life and work.

The software is primitive, and I later revised the decision domains in my book In or Out. However, the idea is still valid.

Decision problem rules

  • Identify your principles and values (decision domains)
  • Make decisions according to your values (hidden numerical values to overcome emotional fluctuations)
  • Use decision tools for your decisions

Conclusion

Whether it’s a decision-making software, app, tools, or maybe a friend, we all need help for making better decisions. So tell me, what are the decision-making tools you use for small or big life decisions?

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

Let’s connect on Twitter

@ashoukry

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