The OHDA Loop

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Just because I can’t control outcomes does not mean that I can’t choose the actions that are more likely to lead to the outcomes I want (or want to avoid). As a Stoic, I know that regardless of my choices, there are no guarantees that the results I want will occur. In that case I just need to adjust my assumptions and try again. In planning my actions I use the OHDA loop to guide my actions.

OHDA stands for Observe, Hypothesize, Decide and Act:

  • Observe – What is occurring? I must actively keep my eyes, ears and mind open and engaged to recognize what is occurring around me.
  • Hypothesize – Why is this occurring? Who are the actors, obvious and hidden, behind what I observe and what are their possible motivations? Play through scenarios in my mind.
  • Decide – What (if anything) should I do about what is occurring, as it aligns to my goals and values? What are the alternatives?
  • Act – Implement my decision (or do nothing if that is my decision)

Repeat continuously, with multiple loops running in parallel on different timeframes based on my needs and how busy is my environment. When I start to feel overwhelmed by the volume of information I am receiving, I will actively work to simplify my environment (not close down my inputs) so that I can prioritize and process a smaller set of loops that are important to me. Keeping the OHDA loop in the forefront of my mind means that I keep my focus on the present as opposed to allowing my mind to drift to the past or future (but not to the extent of being a Calvin).

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