16 Jun The art of intuitive decision making
“What I say is more often felt through intuition than thought through intellect.” — Albert Einstein
What’s the best way to make decisions? The most effective and accurate solution seems to be to build a time machine that allows us to peer into the outcomes of any choice we are considering, and determine whether we like that outcome or not. Beyond the technology that has yet to be developed to allow us to look into our future lives, there’s at least one major philosophical problem with this plan.
The most difficult problem to address when imagining or glimpsing possible futures is the reality that the mind itself will change with the choice. In other words, if we really could look into the future and see multiple possible outcomes of our choice, we would be looking with today’s mind. We would then choose according to today’s wants and needs. But once we make a choice, our wants and needs can change. Who knows if today’s wants and needs will match with tomorrow’s? Certainly not our rational minds.
Rational thought tells us things like, “Make a five-year plan. You know you want a house and a car and a family, so just commit to a five-year plan to get that on track.” Of course, as many of us who have lived as adults even for a little bit of time have found, it doesn’t work like that. Even the very day you choose to commit to a rigid five-year plan, you start to see how many choices and chances are out of your control. The rational mind handles one or two possibilities, but to examine infinite possible future outcomes, we have to turn to the intuition. Here are some important steps to more intuitive decision making.
Step 1. Recognizing the superiority of the intuition is the first step to making better, more intuitive choices. The intuitive mind is another name for the unconscious processing that we draw on every day to do boring things (like drive while we’re thinking about something else) and exciting, life-changing things (for instance, dreaming up a new app to help people make life decisions). The rational mind comments on these actions and helps carry out simple tasks, but the intuitive mind is really in charge. Honor it as such.
Step 2. Listen to the intuitive mind instead of relegating it to driving, walking and breathing automatically. How do you learn to listen to your intuition? Easy! Don’t shut it down. When you feel yourself daydreaming, thinking of a new and seemingly crazy solution to a problem, imagining that something very positive could happen, don’t shut it down. If you’re used to being critical of yourself, then try this: every time an interesting or creative thought appears, remember that at first it’s difficult to tell the difference between what SOUNDS crazy and what actually IS crazy. So keep a note or voice memo of the idea, and see if it resurfaces. At the end of the week, devote 10 or 15 minutes to looking at your ideas and thoughts for the week, and choose one to pursue. This kind of devoted attention will not go unnoticed by your intuitive mind, and it will reward you with bigger and better thoughts.
Step 3. Now that you have expanded your rapport with your intuitive mind, you can draw on it to make decisions that are informed by the intuition’s greater access to information. Ask your intuition FIRST whenever a big choice is looming. To do this, you can use Choice Compass to help you tune into your intuitive wisdom. You can also use any other tool that helps, like dreaming, meditating, singing. But whatever your tools, know there’s an art to finding the most fundamental contrasting choices. You may think you have a choice between inviting your mother to live with you and setting her up in an extended care facility, but is this truly the fundamental choice? Maybe the most fundamental choice is whether you choose to invest time in caring for your mother or not. Try looking at that choice first, several times. As you see how your body responds, you will learn a lot about fears and hopes you have about the situation. Then, drill down to details. If Choice Compass tells you that you generally want to care for your mother, you can start contrasting more specific choices (care facility versus home care). In this way, you will not miss any insights that come from really understanding what a choice means to you.
Step 4. Revisit your choices as things change. It’s always important to notice that as you make choices and events develop around them, circumstances can change. Reconnect with your fully developed on-board intuition to determine whether you still want to make the choice you thought you wanted to make. Forgive yourself if you couldn’t predict the future…no one can. That’ll be Choice Compass 2.0. I’ll let you know when it’s out! Until then, invest in your intuition. It will pay you back, I promise.