Wednesday, December 7, 2016

How to Improve Your Decision-Making at Work with Meditation

Nobody wants a work colleague or, even worse, a boss who cannot make effective decisions. In today’s hectic and unpredictable work environments we need to be able to make decisions quickly and to get the decisions right. Wouldn’t it be great if there were techniques out there which we could use to improve our decision-making powers? Well the good news is that research over the last 20 years has found proof of what many of us already knew. Regular meditation really can improve your ability to act incisively and effectively at work.

Make better decisions

Activities such as meditation are likely to make us better able to cope with stress. We are more likely to make the right decisions, without letting negative emotions influence our decisions, if we have trained our minds to work in a more disciplined, focused way. This is exactly what regular meditation achieves.

Avoiding the sunk-cost trap

We now know that people who meditate regularly are better able to focus their attention on the present moment and are less likely to be distracted by ruminating over what has happened in the past.  Research shows that a group who listened to a series of short breathing-focused meditations and were then asked to make a decision were less likely than a control group to let sunk-cost factors influence their decisions. An example of the sunk-cost trap is when an investment company continues to pour money into a disastrous project simply because they have already poured millions into it, rather than because it is a good idea.

Meditation changes the way we think

A study published in 2011 by a group of neuroscientists found that experienced meditators were better equipped to stop negative emotional responses influencing their decision-making. This was because the meditators were found to activate different areas of the brain to the control group when faced with decisions.

How to incorporate meditation into your life

The good news is that getting started at meditation has never been easier.  With a whole range of guided meditations just a click of the computer mouse away, you’ve no excuse not to start immediately.  They reckon that to get the full benefits of meditation you should aim to meditate for at least 30 minutes every day.  That may seem like a big ask, but once you start to experience the positive life-changing effects of regular practice, you’ll agree that it’s time well spent. If you can’t manage a full 30 minutes to begin with that’s not a problem. Even spending 5 minutes every day focusing on your breathing and recognizing when your thoughts drift away and gently bringing the mind back to your breathing is better than nothing. After just a few weeks of regular daily meditation you’ll probably start to find your decision-making powers are sharper and that you have the confidence to speak out in meetings and follow-through your decisions.

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