Annie Duke on Thinking in Bets, Part 7

In her book, Thinking in Bets: Making Smarter Decisions When You Don’t Have All the Facts, Annie Duke draws on examples from business, sports, politics, and poker to share tools anyone can use to embrace uncertainty and make better decisions.

In the chapter, “Adventures in Mental Time Travel,” Annie Duke discusses the technique of recruiting out past-self and future-self to help our present-self in the decision-making process. These are some of my favorite concepts and takeaways from reading the book.

“Let Marty McFly run into Marty McFly”

The best poker players develop practical ways to incorporate their long-term goals into their in-the-moment decisions. If we can harness the power of mental time traveling by including our past-self and future-self, we might be able to make more decisions that increase our chance of good outcomes.

Our decision-making process should encourage and perhaps even operationalize ways to cause a collision of past, present, and future as much as possible. Our present-self often finds itself alone in the decision-making process without help from our past-self and future-self. If we can get all three entities to deliberate together, we can improve our decisions’ quality.

“Night Jerry”

Temporal discounting is a bias where we tend to favor our present-self at the expense of our future-self. Staying up late and waking up with less energy for tomorrow’s work is an example of temporal discounting. Not saving enough for retirement is another example of such bias.

When we engage our past- and future-self during our decision-making process, we are more likely to make choices consistent with our long-term goals. It is not possible that we can guarantee better decision-making will always generate a favorable outcome, but our odds will undoubtedly improve.

“Moving regret in front of our decisions”

Regret is one of the most intense emotions we feel, but most people have not found productive use of guilt to enhance their decision-making. The problem is that regret occurs after the fact.

The emotion of regret can help us by moving it to before the decision point instead of after. One technique to consider is Suzy Welch’s 10-10-10 process. By taking regret into account and planning, we can devise a plan to respond to a negative outcome instead of just reacting to it.