Start Making More Gut Decisions
I’ll dive right in here — this topic is one I am incredibly sold on. Making gut decisions. I find that the older (and hopefully wiser) I get, the more and more decisions I make from my gut instincts. Being a normally over-analytical individual by nature (my wife would call it OCD), has definitely made me a “look at all the options” type of person inherently. I would typically vet all possible options, evaluate pros and cons, play out scenarios that may or may not ever happen, contemplate risks and lack thereof, you get the picture. What I’ve noticed over time, is while those characteristics are good, and even necessary, in many choices, there comes a time in larger decisions, when you really need to trust your instincts. Again, as mentioned, the more I’ve experienced in life and in my career, the more this stands to be true.
Good decision-making skills are hugely important (here’s an example), so please don’t hear me say that treating your decision to relocate your family from Houston to Frankfurt for a job opportunity should be treated the same as deciding between a Diet Dr. Pepper or Diet Coke at Chick-fil-A. No. Not the same thing. What I am saying, is that your gut instinct should be as much of a factor as any other on a major decision. And, further, it may have the trump card power. If 4 of the 5 factors say to do something, but that 5th one (your gut) says otherwise, maybe you should allow that minority factor to overrule.
There’s a few key reasons to weigh your gut instincts more heavily:
1. That “bad feeling” never gets better, it always worsens — Seriously, someone prove me wrong here!? Have you ever had that “doesn’t sit right” feeling in your gut, and then make the decision anyways, and it gets better? And I’m not talking about when ex either, while maybe that is true in your case. I can’t recall one scenario where I’ve known a choice is a “bad decision” and then it’s a great one. It doesn’t happen. Do circumstances bend and flex to fit the decision you made? Well, sure. Life does go on, so yes, the decision plays out and you may never know what would have happened if you went with your instincts. But, a bad feeling about something either fades away as further decisions are made, or it hangs with you, unshakeable. A bad feeling usually won’t turn into your finest moment.
2. Once decided, it never leaves your mind — “What if?” Those dreaded words that haunt even on our deathbeds. What if? It’s kind of a nonsense phrase if you really analyze it. The mere context implies that you could play out another scenario than the one you’re in. As far as I am aware, in the physical universe, this can’t happen. Yet we’re all guilty of doing it. But, how often do our choices linger? When you have that feeling in your gut that you should have done something differently than what you chose, it’s hard to leave. On a side note there — you’ve got to let it go. Holding on to past decisions won’t ever help, only to better construct the future, but then move on.
3. Your instincts are powerful — Intuition is a powerful thing. I recently heard a great technique on a podcast, where the guest was pushed to say the first thing that came to her head, in order to help her make a decision. There’s a reason for this — it’s because our instinct says a lot about our needs and wants. A quick trigger decision often is deeper than we think, as it gives away what we’re really thinking. These gut thoughts should be trusted at more than shallow face value.
4. You can analyze yourself right out of the right decision — I can think of several gut decisions in the past few years that have made zero sense on paper. I’m potentially in the middle of one right now actually. And, I have zero regrets (and if I did, the risk was worth it). Every single one of those decisions has added to the quality of my life significantly. Giving up things I’m over-extended on or that I’ve lost my passion for. Taking on volunteer opportunities, evaluating career options, passing up business opportunities, and stepping away from startups. All of the decisions, small and large, across the spectrum, have all gone through the gut decision filter. And the opposite is hugely true, and underestimated. Some of the best decisions you could ever make, might not happen, if you allow logic to win every time.
Making gut decisions will cost you things. No doubt. You may have trouble explaining to friends why you chose this job over that job. Why you dropped your major. Why you didn’t hire so-and-so. But, let me tell you, from experience, the feeling of justifying your seemingly poor-on-paper choice is 1000x better than the feeling of pretending to be excited about a decision that looks good on paper, and then feeling sick, at going against your instincts. I promise you. Your gut (whether fit or fat) is your friend, trust it. It’s a long game, not a short one. Playing for the here and now will only create regret later.
Can you think of a time where you’ve used your gut to make the right decision, when it didn’t appear like one at first?
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