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Why You Find it Difficult to Make Personal Decisions [But Find it Easy to Make Business, Professional or Academic Decisions]

Why You Find it Difficult to Make Personal Decisions

High achievers like you are successful because they know how to make timely and practical decisions in their business, professional and academic life. But when it comes to their personal lives, decision-making takes on a whole new meaning. Things become more difficult. More frustrating.

You quickly realise that the decision heuristics you use in business, professionally or academically don’t translate into useful rules for cracking the code of personal problems. The rules of engagement that you use in your professional life are not exactly transferable to your private life.

And when that happens, frustration sets in. Specifically, emotional and mental frustration. What is even more frustrating is the fact that you are doing pretty well as a professional, but your private life is a mess.

You are a highly functioning professional with a messed up private life.

But why is it easy for you to make superior professional decisions and a struggle to make good decisions in your private life?

The answer to this question lies with Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs.

That pyramid of human needs that we are all so familiar with. At the bottom of the pyramid, you have survival needs – food, shelter, warmth.

Because you cannot progress to the next level of the pyramid before satisfactory performance at the lower level, humanity naturally places a lot of emphasis on sharpening its survival skills. In the modern world, the skill to get food is represented by your professional skills.

You earn money because you have a professional skill set that is useful to the economy.

The more useful the economy thinks your skill set is, the more money you are paid. The more money you are paid, the easier it is for you fulfil your survival needs and move up the Maslow Pyramid to the next level of human achievement.

But here is the deal: too much focus on going beyond Maslow’s bottom need for food and survival means that our society has become so good at planning for and making decisions related to professional skills. In school and everywhere else we get access to lots of useful education on how to make the best decisions financially, professionally and academically.

But remember that the further up you go Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, the more you have to know how to make decisions that have a predominantly emotional component to them. In school and at work you deal with tangible things like KPIs, sales numbers, attrition rates and others like that. Those metrics don’t need a lot of emotional input when it comes to decision-making.

All you need is predominantly cognitive input.

And therein is the trick as to why you find it easy to make professional decisions, but your private life is a mess. You are highly skilled at making decisions whose predominant input is cognitive (your professional life). And you have received little to no training on the art and science of decision-making that predominantly calls for emotional output (your personal life).

So how do you correct this anomaly in decision making? How do you get rid of this mindset aberration? How do you deal with personal problems that predominantly have an emotional component to them?



You become aware of the fact that the decision heuristics of business, professional and academic life are predominantly cognitive.


You learn to embrace the fact that emotions play a major role in ensuring your private life is full of happiness instead of conflict, aggression and manipulation.


You intentionally start learning decision-making heuristics that are amenable to the problems you encounter in your personal life.

And that is all there is to it. 


I have put together a tool that helps you navigate the world of emotions when making decisions in your private life. It’s a good starting point on your journey to learning the decision-making rules that are useful for comfortably settling in at the higher levels of Maslow’s Pyramid of Human Achievement. You can check it out here.

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