“Trust your instincts.” You’ve heard it countless times, but have you ever followed this advice? Those who do often find that their intuition — defined as the ability to know something without proof or evidence — doesn’t lead them astray.
There are three levels of intuition, according to William Duggan, an expert in the field. The first is a simple gut feeling that you should do something one way or another. You don’t particularly know why it’s the right choice, but you have a feeling that you know which choice is best.
Then, there’s expert intuition. Perhaps you’ve done something a certain way before, remember it clearly, and know now how to handle the same situation.
Finally, you might have experienced a wave of strategic intuition, which is the most interesting one of the three. Imagine, for example, you’re drifting off to sleep when, all of the sudden, you think of the perfect wording for the email you want to send your boss, asking for a raise. Or, you came up with just the right advertising tagline for your new client — but you’re not at the office, you’re taking a nice, hot bath in the evening. When your brain is relaxed, you’re better able to come up with these sorts of ideas, but be sure to record them right away; they’re also the most likely to disappear.
Unfortunately, you can’t always conjure up strategic intuition, and you can’t acquire expert intuition in every subject. That’s where other strategies come in. They typically allow you to combine interesting ways of thinking with as much of your own personal experience as possible. Read on to learn about five methodologies, and see if you can incorporate them into your daily life.
Know when to set emotions aside — and when to trust them
Emotions make decision-making tricky; we all know this. That’s why it’s important to know when you should set aside your feelings to make neutral decisions. By the time you’re an adult, you should become a manager of your own emotions. This means you know when you’re feeling stressed, or scared, or excited, or anxious. These types of emotions can certainly interfere with your decision-making process, and your ability to manage them can make or break you when it comes time to give your final verdict.
Alternatively, your emotions are important when it comes to matters of the heart. You’ve probably got plenty of pre-existing intuitions when it comes to the way that a person looks. But you also need to trust how a person makes you feel, as this information can help you find a good friend or love match. If someone calms you, energizes you, comforts you, or gives you positive vibes in general, you should pursue or maintain a relationship with him or her. The opposite goes for negative vibes, so follow your heart; sometimes, it does know what’s best.
Don’t think: piensa.
One method that experts suggest for those trying to make a smart decision is to think in another language. That’s because your problems happen in your native tongue, and distancing yourself from them allows you to have some distance from your emotions, too. Without all of your feelings fogging your decision-making process, it might be easier to see a solution.
Another way to make a solid decision is to remove yourself as a main player and consider the situation as a fly on the wall. Becoming a third-person player allows you to see all sides more clearly and with less emotion. You can also better predict the effects that a particular decision may incur. This type of wise reasoning is vital when there are multiple players — and feelings — involved and will allow you to make better decisions for everyone.
Leave the light
Another interesting scientific fact: bright lights make us feel emotions more intensely. If you’re discussing an issue in a fluorescently-lit conference room, for example, you might not want to express your emotions or make decisions without stepping out. It’s true that bright light and sunshine can also make us feel happier and more positive, but, no matter what, an amplification in emotions is just that, and you don’t want it to cloud your judgment.
Take your time
Perhaps the best way to make the right decision is to give yourself ample time to think. If you make a split-second decision, your brain won’t even have a chance to let your intuition kick in. Instead, you might say or do something regrettable without consideration of the consequences. Amazingly enough, giving yourself just 50 milliseconds longer to think about something will lead to a much clearer and well-thought-out decision. So, give your brain a breather next time you’re faced with an important, albeit quick, decision-making process; you’ll be thankful when you look back and realize just what a difference a little bit of self-reflection made.