Self Development

Naval Ravikant’s 3 Heuristics for Decision-Making

Naval Ravikant is someone who I follow quite religiously, ever since I discovered and listened to his How to Get Rich Without Getting Lucky Podcast – what I consider to be one of the best freely available resources on the internet to learn about the core concepts and timeless principles of wealth building.

His advice has completely changed the way I perceive the world and I’m sure it will likely do the same for you, especially if you haven’t been exposed to his ideas and ways of thinking before.

One of my favourite pieces of advice from him was from one of his Periscope videos, where he talks about the 3 decision-making heuristics he uses in day-to-day life to make better decisions.

I’ve found all three of his heuristics to be highly applicable in my own life, making it a breeze to make difficult decisions – even when all inputs are not known.

I’m sharing them here not only because I strongly believe they will improve the quality of your decision-making, but also as a reminder to myself to use them more frequently in my life.

Of course, these rules cannot be applied to each and every situation, so be wise about the context in which you apply them.

Difficult decisions

“When faced with a difficult decision, if you cannot decide – the answer is no.”

Naval says that we have an infinite number of options to pick from in modern society, but as humans, we are not biologically wired to realize all these options.

The consequences of a lot of decisions can be very long-lived, sometimes years and even decades. So it becomes really important to only say yes when you’re pretty certain. You can’t be absolutely certain you’re making the right choice, but being very positive often good enough. If you find yourself with a spreadsheet of pros and cons, forget it.

Good examples for situations to use this in: Should I take this job? Should I move to this city? Should I start this business?

Equal choices

“If you have 2 choices to make, and they are equally favourable to you, choose the path which is more difficult in the short-term.”

Naval says that on careful introspection, you will find that one of these paths requires short-term pain and the other one may require pain further out in the future. What the brain is doing through conflict avoidance is trying to push out the short-term pain. And by definition, if the two are even and one has short-term pain, it means it has long-term gain.

By the law of compound interest, the long-term gain is what you want anyway. So your brain is over-valuing the side that has short-term happiness and trying to avoid short-term pain.

To cancel the brain’s default tendency out, it is very powerful to start leaning into the pain. Most of the gains in life come from suffering in the short term, so you can get gain in the long term. (Ex. working out, confused while reading a book). Hard choices, easy life. Easy choices, hard life.

Good examples for situations to use this in: Should I tell this person A or B? Should I move to this city or that city? Should I take this job or start that business?

Interpersonal conflicts

“In times of interpersonal conflicts, pick the choice which will leave you more equanimous in the long-term.”

Equanimous here means a state of “internal calmness and composure”. By picking the choice which leaves you calmer internally in the long term, it will help you avoid regrets and internal turmoil after making decisions.

Naval says this is highly applicable in times where you are trying to figure out whether to say something to someone which might make them angry or lift a burden off your chest.

Hope you found Naval’s heuristics as insightful as I did. Apply them the next time you’re at a crossroads and let me know how you go! πŸ™‚

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