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Pick the right ice cream.

We all remember the moment. Young, impressionable, and craving sugar. "Mom, I want some ice cream!" you might have screamed. With your request falling on deaf ears, you worked harder. Tugging at your mom's side, you silently whispered, "mommy, could I pleeeeeease try some ice cream?" Looking up with an innocent face, you gave her that look that no mom could resist, and in a moment of weakness, she caved.

"Sure honey. What flavour would you like?"

Remember the sense of excitement you felt hearing those words? The anticipation as you approached the counter? "Hmmmmm. What flavour am I going to pick?", you might have muttered quietly under your breath.

So many flavours. So much choice.

Fast-forward to your adult life and you might be able to draw parallels with this younger self. The world has become a distracting place, and the abundance of choice seems to introduce a new version of rocky road to the ice cream counter every day. So how do you filter through all the other flavours to get what you really want? Remember, mom isn't going to buy you a second cone.

We know that decisions are made easier when aligned with core values and personal whys. Activities resulting from these decisions also produce more meaningful events. Research supports this perspective. In a paper titled , Beyond rationality: Clarity-based decision making, author Stephen Kaplan argues that people have perfect knowledge and strive to maximize their gains.

In his paper, Kaplan expands upon this statement. He uses the rationality model common among decision theorists to dive deeper into the basis for decision making, saying, "...the answer comes in the form of three underlying assumptions."

1. Concept of gain - the trade off between advantages and disadvantages of a particular decision.

2. People attempt to maximize gain - we all make choices that yield the highest possible return.

3. We each have perfect knowledge - research assumes that in making a decision, we all have whatever information we might possibly need.

The first two assumptions might be obvious to most of us, but what about the third? Step back to that ice cream parlour when you were a child. Could you have possibly known EVERYTHING required to make the best decision. We doubt it.

The good news is that cognitive ability improves as we transition to adulthood, and we are more likely to understand how we might achieve "perfect knowledge". Bad news is that faced with the simplest of decisions, having ALL the info is next to impossible. Take our ice cream example. To have perfect knowledge in making your decision, you might want to know the following:

- How is the ice cream made?

- Is it all natural? Where are the ingredients sourced from?

- Does this change from flavour to flavour?

- What is the sugar content of each?

- Do they use natural or artificial flavors?

- When was each flavour made and how fresh is the last batch?

- and on, and on, and on......

Analysis paralysis sets in. You freeze. How on earth do you have "perfect knowledge" in this circumstance. Imagine if you were making a bigger, more complex decision, like buying your first home?

Science tells us that certain criteria must exist to maximize gain, but what if perfect knowledge was achieved by having clarity around core values and personal whys? Think about this. It's hard to see how we might have absolute clarity around a decision based on information - there's just too much of it out there. But drop the need to know everything, and replace it with an alignment to personal whys, and you are placed at the threshold you were born to cross. A decision made from the centre of personal whys removes doubt, confusion, and fear. Clarity sets in. You are confident with the decision. You ignore being bombarded by distractions that make decisions all the more difficult.

Next time you're faced with a big decision give it a try. Pick rocky road, but only if scooped on the cone of personal whys.

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