3 Biases Blocking Your Way To Success (Pt. 1)

This is why we don't chase our true goals

Cognitive biases are a funny thing. Wikipedia lists over 200 of them, and every single one is a unique trick our own minds play on our perception.

It’s impossible to fight them all at once, but at the same time, simply being aware of them reduces their effect to a great extent.

That’s why I’d like to highlight some that, together, stand between you and your success in a specific way.

The following 3 keep us from chasing our goals by making us play it safe.

1. Loss Aversion

Nobel prize winner Daniel Kahneman found out that if he gave people a mug and told them it’s worth $5, then asked them to buy the mug back the next day, no one would sell it to him for $5. People wanted as much as $10.

We think the fact that we own things makes them more valuable. That’s nonsense, but it makes us more afraid of losing what we have than never getting what we really want out of life. Hence, we’re busy protecting our status quo instead of trying new things.

2. Zero-Risk Bias

One way we do this “keeping our sheep together” is by succumbing straight to another mental fallacy: zero-risk bias. When it comes to the sources of risk in our lives, we prefer fully eliminating one that’s already small to greatly reducing a big threat.

As a result, we spend too much money and energy on the wrong things. For example, most people have only one source of income. That’s a huge risk! But instead of working on a side gig, they try to just do their job and not cause trouble, because it feels safer.

3. The Ambiguity Effect

Finally, when we do consider going after one of our big goals, we’ll immediately get stuck: What if it doesn’t work out? Is what we want even realistic? This is where the ambiguity effect derails our ambitions.

If we don’t have enough information to guess the probability of something, we’ll avoid that option altogether. Therefore, we choose simple paths with clear odds, even if better alternatives might be equally as likely - we just don’t know it yet. We’d rather buy lottery tickets than stocks, because one is simple, the other needs learning. 

Loss aversion, zero-risk bias, the ambiguity effect. Don’t let these get in the way of your success.

Defuse them with awareness. And then go get what you deserve.

-Nik


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