Admit it or not, your emotional state has a lot of influence over financial decision-making.
Good decisions are what maketh the leader. This is because decisions are the stuff that brought your business and career where it is today. You created this reality by the decisions you have made until now.
Making sound financial decisions is difficult when your mental state is diminished or your judgement is impaired.
The H.A.L.T. (Hungry.Angry.Lonely.Tired.) method is used for many different processes. The AA use it extensively for addiction recovery, parents use it to raise children, dieters use it to stop overeating and couples use it to achieve calm communication. This is how it works:
When making your next big decision: H.A.L.T. Stop in your tracks and try to pinpoint any of the following feelings:
Ask yourself if you are hungry for food, accomplishment, revenge, understanding, etc. If you feel physical or emotional hunger, you might not be mentally fit to make a good decision. This is because you are more likely to take risks when you are hungry.
Are you angry? When you are angry, your mind is reactive and irrational. If you make a decision in this state, you (as a calm and collected individual) might not even be making the decision. A reactive, irrational version of you is making the decision. Let’s face it, when you are angry, it’s difficult to imagine the positive outcome of anything.
Do you feel lonely at all? If you do, it is likely that you are making decisions from a needy, vulnerable space. Studies have shown that loneliness can make you more frivolous with money. Not a good trait in financial managers.
Fatigue can seriously cloud your judgement. Ever made a decision when you were tired and regretted it later? This could be because of a lack of willpower. It turns out that your willpower tire the same way muscles do and you obviously need the willpower to make good decisions.
Given that we are not always reasonable when we are Hungry, Angry, Lonely or Tired, we need some more guidelines on how to use this financial decision-making method.
First you have to make a habit of HALTing before making big decisions. This is a very important and often difficult step as habits only form by repetition. Thus, practice HALT for small decisions or when you are calm and collected.
When you are in this habit or have remembered to HALT when making a big decision, you still have to pinpoint which of the factors are affecting your mood. To do this, you have to “wake up”. You will need a moment of conscious clarity to feel what is wrong so that you can address it or postpone the decision-making until you are fed, calm, emotionally sound, and rested.
Luckily these 4 factors are easy to address.
- If you are hungry, grab a bite. If you regularly don’t get time to eat, keep some healthy snacks like nuts on your desk.
- If you are feeling lonely, talking to colleagues or phoning a family member / friend are easy enough to do from your office.
- You might need some extra time to remedy your fatigue and anger, maybe even postpone your decision until the next day. Exercise, rest & relaxation, meditation, and laughter are good tools to turn yourself into a well-rested and contented financial decision-maker.
Knowledge is power. Now that you know that your decision making capability could be hindered by simple things like hunger and loneliness, you can be an all-powerful decision-maker.