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Books to get better at Decisions

I had realised that I had a knack to take decisions pretty quickly both personally and professionally. The skill to be decisive does not come easily and is one of the most important attributes to remain significant in a competitive world. I decided to delve deeper to get better at it. I share my evolution as a decision-maker in chronological order of the books I read.

How to make better choices in life and work was the first one I picked up. The book outlines the role of bias in decision-making and outlines, in simple steps, how to make better choices/decisions.

My first book was a pretty quick read and it did not give me the theoretical insights I usually look for in topic of my interest. Daniel Kahneman’s, ‘Thinking, Fast and Slow’ turned out to be the best book. The author explains the concept of behaviour using easy-to-relate concept of System 1 and System 2. Simplified interpretation of behavioural experiments in the book made me feel like an expert in the emerging field of behavioural economics.

The book had several references to lead me deeper into the subject and I preferred to pick up Influence- The Psychology of Persuasion. The book is relatively a more difficult read compared to earlier one and I could not relate to the concepts very well. May be it should have been read after I read Nudge . The subtleness of ‘nudging’ technique to influence a decision impressed me. Just like the authors of the book, I began keeping notes of nudges I noticed in daily life. I applied some of the nudge tools at work and home.

I was soon reading my next one – Misbehaving: The Making of Behavioural Economics . My ‘econ’ concepts were washed away by the whole new set of evidences presented by the authors. I became more receptive to irrationality traits in myself and others. I was getting better at nudging and leveraging irrationality in humans. I was often stating ‘behavioural economics’ as my preferred subject to complete my Doctoral program.

Predictably Irrational: The Hidden Forces that Shape Our Decisions was a further refinement of the concept of irrationality and its impact on decision-making. By the time I finished reading this book, I was running out of references for new books that were significant extensions of my last few reads. 

Payoff: The Hidden Logic That Shapes Our Motivations turned out to be a good extension on the subject of decision-making by introducing the role of motivation. The book outlines the importance of ‘meaning’ in motivating us. This goes far beyond the Maslow’s hierarchy I was introduced to as a student.

In Praise of Slowness: Challenging the Cult of Speed  was an accidental pick. The book helped me comprehend the importance of prioritising and take things one at a time. The book had a significant impact on my daily routine. I quit Whatsapp for 6 months and deleted my Facebook account. I stopped reading/tracking news and finally started feeling less hurried and distracted in my daily life. Today, I am delighted to have zero updates on current affairs. 

Irresistible: The Rise of Addictive Technology and the Business of Keeping Us Hooked  introduced me the role of addiction and how new-age technology is influencing our behaviours. The linkage to my previous reads focused on behavioural economics was more clear. The book is an excellent read to understand why addiction is a serious challenge for us and our kids. 

I then picked up ‘The Power of Habit’ to understand how are habits formed. The concept of cue-trigger-reward will help me counter some of my habits that are likely to turn into addictions.

I will  re-read the above books in same order for remaining part of the year to revise/refresh the concepts and keep getting better at taking decisions.

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