How to Avoid Making Rash Decisions


Have you ever made a decision that you later regretted? A decision that when you look back on it, you realize you didn’t give yourself enough time to think it through and really get to grips with it before you made your choice?

If you have, chances are this was a rash decision. While we often make rash decisions when we’re stressed or we have just come out of a bad situation, such as a relationship breakup, a death in the family, or a difficult period at work, we can fall victim to making rash decisions at any time, which is why learning how to avoid and overcome them is essential to getting ahead.

What are Rash Decisions?

Rash decisions are decisions that we make in the spur of the moment, often without being in possession of all of the facts. They are the opposite of balanced decisions, and they are often made without considering the consequences of our choices, and any long-term outcomes.

While making rash decisions may be within a person’s character, this can change over time if we allow ourselves to start giving each decision the time and attention it deserves.

Rash Decisions vs. Analysis Paralysis

With that said, there is a difference between making a rash decision and making a quick choice, when this choice won’t have an especially great impact on your life.

Analysis paralysis is the state that can sometimes occur when you overthink (or overanalyze) a certain task or decision, and as a result you fail to move forward, or make a decision, in any meaningful way. You essentially become paralized by the task ahead of you; the exact opposite of making a “rash” decision.

While making a rash decision implies that you’re not putting enough thought into your decision, choosing quickly, and in turn avoiding analysis paralysis, should be encouraged in certain situations.

Don’t get me wrong; many decisions deserve your time and full attention—such as whether to move in with your partner, start a family, or take a job offer, for example. You should sleep on these decisions (many nights over) if possible. Others decisions don’t require this level of commitment—such as what toothpaste brand to purchase, what to wear on the weekend, or what to order as you wait in line at Starbucks. Making fast decisions in these situations, far from being rash, is completely appropriate.

Avoid Rash Decisions to Protect the Downside 

The popular British entrepreneur Richard Branson often talks of “protecting the downside.” What this means for him is that in all of his business dealings, he ensures that the downside of any decision he makes isn’t so bad—it will never bankrupt him, or cause severe financial distress.

Richard is a risk taker; he makes bets on financial outcomes based on the businesses that he buys and sells. But he always protects the downside. He never makes rash decisions based on fear. If he ever felt that he was being pressured into making a quick decision by signing on the dotted line, I have no doubt that he would walk away from the deal.

The easiest way for us to avoid making rash decisions in the future is to protect the downside. Does making this decision right now, while you may not be in possession of all of the facts, or you may be stressed out from work, or you’re feeling a disproportionate emotional connection to something or someone—does this decision serve your long-term goals? Because if it does not, you should hold off from making a decision right now.

Avoid making rash decisions by protecting the downside. Over the long term, you’ll thank yourself. ∎


Benjamin Spall is the founding editor of the online magazine My Morning Routine, and the co-author of a book of the same name. He has written for outlets including the New York Times, the New York Observer, Quartz, Entrepreneur, Business Insider, CNBC, and more.

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