Louis C.K.’s decision-making rule

Making decisions is a theme on this site. It’s a theme in my life as I grapple with the confidence, laissez faire-ness, certainty and surrender inherent in good decision-making.

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Today I share brilliant US comedian Louis C.K.’s approach. He, too, grapples with the descent into despair that decision-making can induce. He’s developed a 70 Per Cent rule:

“These situations where I can’t make a choice because I’m too busy trying to envision the perfect one—that false perfectionism traps you in this painful ambivalence: If I do this, then that other thing I could have done becomes attractive. But if I go and choose the other one, the same thing happens again. It’s part of our consumer culture. People do this trying to get a DVD player or a service provider, but it also bleeds into big decisions.

“So my rule is that if you have someone or something that gets 70 per cent approval, you just do it. ‘Cause here’s what happens. The fact that other options go away immediately brings your choice to 80. Because the pain of deciding is over.

“And when you get to 80 per cent, you work. You apply your knowledge, and that gets you to 85 per cent! And the thing itself, especially if it’s a human being, will always reveal itself—100 percent of the time!—to be more than you thought. And that will get you to 90 per cent. After that, you’re stuck at 90, but who the fuck do you think you are, a god? You got to 90 per cent? It’s incredible!”

All of which is not unlike my theory that just making a decision leads to that decision becoming the right decision. I illustrate using the time I couldn’t decide between Angelina Jolie in a red dress v Angelina in a green dress for a Cosmopolitan cover (sometimes banal examples are the most illustrative!)

You work, you apply…that’s what counts…for most things in life. Engage, show up and struggle with pretty much anything and it will unfold to become The Right Thing in that moment.

Some other decision-making theories I’ve explored, should you be interested:

Sheena Iyengar’s take that choosing to show up for, and work for, a relationship with someone leads to them becoming The One. 

Listen to your body and let it make the decisions for you.

I have also compiled some of my own tips to simplify decisions in a previous post.

You got a decision-making theory or parable or mantra you like?

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