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Boost Your Decision Fitness with HALT: A Guide to Better Decision Making

Are You Decision Fit?

When was the last time you were called upon to make a decision at a time you were not “decision fit”? I’m not talking about the last time you wobbled over a decision to head for the gym. I’m talking about decision fitness, being aware of your decision state before you made a decision.

The concept of decision fitness is foreign to a lot of people. As a culture, we seldom give a lot of thought towards evaluating our internal state before we go ahead and make a decision. I believe it is very important to take a moment, maybe a deep breath, and notice one’s personal decision state before making a decision. Skipping this observation can lead to undesired outcomes.

What happens when you go grocery shopping when you are hungry? Does your basket receive a few extras? Have you ever had a little too much to drink and found yourself saying or doing things you probably shouldn’t have? Have you ever made a bad decision after a fight with a partner or spouse? These are all examples of times when your decision fitness was likely somewhat or considerably compromised. Don’t sweat it; this happens to everyone from time to time.

There’s a good acronym to remember when you need to do a self-check and see if you are decision fit. It is called HALT.

  • H = Hungry. Are you hungry? You might put too much in your grocery basket or make other bad decisions if you are trying to make a decision when you are hungry.

  • A = Angry. Trying to make decisions when you are angry is generally a bad idea. You are likely to say things you don’t mean, hurt yourself or others, or do things you later regret.

  • L = Lonely. Some decisions require support. Trying to make big decisions by yourself when you are not well supported can lead to poor decisions and poor outcomes.

  • T = Tired. Think of the rest stops on the freeway. They are there for a reason. Tired drivers make bad decisions.

HALT might not catch every potential bad decision, but it will catch an awful lot of them.

It’s also important to remember that sometimes it seems like a time we have to make a decision, but in actuality there is some flexibility about it. You might be better off punting the decision forward an hour or a day until you are more decision fit, and making the decision then.

The “L” in HALT has a particular significance to me this year. I lost my best friend in 2021. While I have been making new friends, deepening my relationships and building a new support structure, I have been far more lonely since he died. The loneliness that accompanies grief can weaken your decision fitness for a long time. Covid-19 has affected us all and many of us are grieving. It’s important to be gentle on yourself as you consider and make decisions if you are experiencing grief.

When making decisions, big or small, take a breath and observe yourself. Remember to do a self-check using the H, Hungry, A, Angry, L, Lonely, T, tired model. Restricting yourself to making decisions when you are decision fit will lead you to make better decisions.

This blog post was inspired by my recent podcast episode with Amy Day of Amy is a decision coach, creator and mom who trains people on how to make good decisions.


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