Today’s Choices Affecting Tomorrow
The majority of us are playing a short-term game, chasing todays highs, only considering what helps or pleases us right now.
Focusing on long term goals over short term pleasures remains a topic for debate!
A significant part of the choices we make in life have long term consequences, yet we tend to ignore this side. Why?
There’s significant benefit to looking at the longer-term goals. Many successful people have great imagination, envisaging and planning their future.
However, making longer term choices are difficult as in many cases it implies choosing and sacrificing the shorter term, feel good, easy win. Making a choice predominantly means giving up something else — something we may like tomorrow, next week or next year! So can we look past that to the longer term goals that require us to make a different short term choices today?
The big question is therefore– do we choose what we want now, or do we choose to wait for what we want most!! The two are after all, often not compatible.
So, here’s an easy-to-understand guide to some of the reasons for your decisions. It will help you understand the roles of five basic needs, prejudice, and maximising personal advantage in decision-making. Not only will you be able to make better choices yourself, but you will also obtain useful marketing and positioning tips that will make your audience more likely to want the deal you are offering.
What’s the Choice?
Let’s begin with the basics of this. What’s the answer, exactly? In its simplest form, the choice is the willingness to decide when you have two or more options. But the ideas and theoretical models of choice go deeper. Here are two of the most popular theories of choice:
What is the theory of choice?
Choice theory is a study of how choices are made. The word “Choice” was coined in a book of the same name by William Glasser, who claimed that all human decisions were made to fulfill five basic needs: love and belonging, strength, freedom, fun, and survival.
The idea that humans make decisions that further our interests is not a new one and is reinforced by rational choice theory.
What is the rational choice theory?
Rational choice theory is a method used to model social and economic behavior. This theory was propounded by Cesare Beccaria. According to rational choice theory, individuals select an option that maximizes their interests and provides them with the most significant advantage. Interpretation of advantage can be significantly influenced by personal bias.
What is Bias?
According to Merriam-Webster, Bias is either “an inclination of temperament or outlook, a personal and sometimes unreasoned judgment.”
In a TED talk by Iyengar, who is blind, she recounted a trip to a nail salon where she had to choose between two light shades of pink labelled, “Ballet Slippers” and “Adorable.” The colors were described to her as an “elegant shade of pink” and a “glamorous shade of pink,” respectively. Semantic choice of descriptions that hardly illustrated the difference.
So, bearing this in mine, Iyengar wondered whether names influenced, subconsciously, more than the color itself. She decided to conduct a study with the two colors, asking women to choose which shade they preferred. Half of the study participants initially stated they couldn’t tell the shades apart. From the remaining half, the majority of the participants chose “Adorable” (when presented with label-less bottles). However, when the women knew the polish names, the majority chose “Ballet Slippers.”
Expectation would make you think nail polish would be judged by its color alone but something about the name “Ballet Slippers” caused the women to change their preference, and this is what we call bias.
Why does bias matter so much in the Market?
Some biases are conscious. For example, I prefer dogs over cats. I think dogs are friendlier, more lovable, and less likely to scratch me. But I don’t know why I like the color cyan over the color blue. I have an unconscious, also known as implicit, bias.
Implicit bias is everywhere, and it affects the way we act and treat other people, sometimes with alarming results. Unconscious “racial stereotypes” are a major example of implicit bias. In other words, having an automatic preference for one race over another without even being aware of this bias. “Affinity bias” in the workplace, when companies hire for ‘culture fit,’ they are likely falling prey to affinity bias. When hiring teams meet someone they like and who they know will get along with the team. “Conformity” bias in the workplace sway opinions if individual who don’t match the opinion of the majority, Halo Effect when your judge a person on the prestige of their educational establishment. This topic is massive and an amazing topic for one of our next blogs.
Integrated Global Calculator
Researchers at Yale discovered three different circuits responsible for making decisions. One for good decisions, another for the wrong decision, and the third determines which of those past choices we retain as the lasting memory of the whole experience.
The combination of these three individual processes help us to make what we deem as the right decisions. For example, “If a restaurant has good food, one brain circuit is activated. If the food is terrible, a different circuit is activated. A third circuit records the memories of the experience, good or bad. All three are crucial to our decision-making process and everyone tends to be different to what experience their memories favor to remember. Some will never eat in the restaurant again, other will remember the previous good meals and remain with a positive about feeling about the restaurant.
Alterations to these circuits can explain why some people have addiction’s hallmarks and find it difficult to break out of routine, bad habits and continue to make unhealthy choices even after repeated negative experiences.
Make the Little things Count
Some choices often seem small with little impact, so you don’t spend a lot of time thinking about them while you make them. However, this is a time of investment in yourself. Investing is about making decisions in the present, regardless of how small, that will have a significant impact on your future. As looking back, you will recognize that these minor decisions have had the most significant effect on your life.
They might involve thinking about whether you go to that social event, take that extra course, or participate in that project. You will realize that making these choices will influence which experience you have, people you will meet and, therefore, which opportunities you will eventually cross your path.
Choose your Path
The world is moving, and we are walking on our trail called life. We are hiking in stages towards our destination, the goals we have in life. You can walk on many paths, easy ones with a low profile and more difficult ones over mountains. Each with pro’s and con’s which in turn can mean potentially more challenging choices and in many cases pushing yourself not to take the short-term fix will result in a greater reward longer term.
Unaddressed short-term issues can be like an electronic-fence keeping you from setting out on your long-term journey. If you replace exercise with eating junk food today, you won’t get the well-toned body you want tomorrow. If you want to be a world traveler, book a trip today. If you want to get a degree, start by applying for that course today. The message is start today what you want to achieve tomorrow.
In summary the reality is that there needs to be a balance between long term goals and short-term pleasures. While excellent planning and execution will significantly increase your chances for a better future and a more significant market presence, you also need enjoyment and value from your life in the shorter term. Try to understand your reasons and own bias to come to the best decision for you. Consider why you’re making the choice, love and belonging, strength, freedom, fun or survival and what you’re in turn willing to sacrifice. Double check if you are being influenced by “unbalanced” personnel bias and your happy with the advantages receiving from the choice you are making long term and short term.
So step forward into your new market segment and understand humans can be influenced by not only the obvious, can be significantly influenced by hidden factors and by bias, both conscious and implicit and ultimately don’t always make choices for the long term. So, your service offering has to be attractive to them for the emotional feel good factors of achieving short-term goals, which is included in the next blog on branding where we take a deep diving into all these hidden factors and more.