Tossing a Coin is not as Dumb as You Think

Every day we are faced with decisions. Most of them are incredibly easy to make. Tea or coffee? Get up now, or have another 10 minutes under the covers? Go shopping or spend some time with friends. Those decisions take seconds because the consequences of one course of action compared to another are not life or income threatening. The stakes are so low that we are happy to allow our instinct to make the decision for us and in most cases those decisions are absolutely fine for us.

But what happens when the stakes are a little higher? Suddenly our decision making capability which is normally so efficient and almost automatic, gets stalled and we find ourselves agonizing over which way to go; wavering between alternatives like a child trying to choose which candy to spend a dime on.

What is it that turns us from slick decisive choosers into dithering fools? The answer is simple. Fear.

Because these weightier decisions have potentially more damaging consequences, our natural protection mechanisms kick in and set off alarm bells, which say “Slow down, hold on, don’t rush into this”. All of which is perfectly normal and healthy, but the problems start when our fear turns into procrastination and a complete inability to decide even when all the facts are in front of us.

It is this fear and procrastination which, nine times out of ten are responsible for preventing us making the decisions that could change our lives for the better. We get stuck in a rut of our own making and are too scared to climb out.

So what can we do to break the deadlock and free up our natural instincts for making good and healthy decisions? Well, how about tossing a coin?

Now I know that sounds like the most reckless advice. Am I suggesting that we throw our future open to fate and allow every decision to be decided on the mere throw of a coin?

No of course not, but what I am suggesting is that the throw of the coin is one sure way to catalyze your natural decision making instinct out of its fearful slumber.

Let me explain. Imagine you are in a store and you plan to buy a new TV. You are now down to deciding between two alternatives; they both have similar specifications and prices, but one has an extra feature you like and the other has a more pleasing design. You don’t need two TV’s right? So you have to decide. But you just can’t.

Imagine, now that you take a coin out of your pocket and throw it into the air. I can absolutely guarantee you that as soon as that coin leaves your hand, long before it falls back down into your palm again, you will know which TV you want to buy. As soon as you told your brain that you were going to take the decision out of its hands and let fate decide, it suddenly found its voice again and tried to assert its authority by shouting, “I hope it lands heads up”.

You see, your brain already knows perfectly well which decision to make but your protection mechanism has been drowning it out. The simple expedient of introducing blind fate into the equation is enough to break that pattern.

So next time you’re facing a decision that you just can’t seem to make, try tossing a coin and give your brain a fright.