I wrote before about decision hoisting, the process of taking the consequences at an implementation level and hoisting them back up into the high-level decision. Decision hoisting is the antidote to those difficult situations where someone asks you to do different things at different times that conflict with each other. Beyond its role in dealing with others, though, I think it can be a useful technique for yourself.

It's all too easy to make decisions that don't actually further your goals, and one way that happens is just ignoring the consequences as you make the decision. You had a plan to get up early and do some work in the morning, but morning rolls around and you're pretty tired. It starts to seem like a better idea to get a bit of extra sleep, and the details of that plan seem pretty distant. After all, it's not like anything is going to catch fire, you'll just have a little less time in the morning...

Of course, before you know it, your morning's gone and you haven't got the work done. But the thing is, the night before you predicted exactly this situation. You considered it and calculated the relationship between getting up early and getting work done in the morning. Nothing changed about that situation, just your own perspective shifted and, as it did, you lost sight of the connection between the decision and the consequences. Exactly the problem that decision hoisting is designed to solve.

So how do you hoist your own decisions? I've been thinking about a technique I call chaining, where you tie the decision and consequences together via some kind of immediate representation of that relationship. For example, you write "I will only get my work done in the morning if I get up by 8am" on an index card or a piece of paper and leave it by your alarm. When you get up in the morning, you still have the option to sleep longer, but you have to tear up that card before you do. You have chained the consequences to the decision, kind of like a protester chaining themselves to a tree. "You'll have to get through me first!"

I think it's important to maintain the option to go back on your decisions. New information can come up, your thinking can change, or the decision could just have been a bad decision in the first place. But to re-make the decision you need to re-consider the information that went into it in the first place, and that tends to be difficult in the heat of the moment. By representing consequences in a way that forces you to engage with them, I think it's possible to hoist your own decisions and force yourself to make them well, even in difficult circumstances.