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Truly Smart People Go Through These 4 Stages To Develop Their Critical Thinking Abilities

Truly Smart People Go Through These 4 Stages To Develop Their Critical Thinking Abilities

Simply getting more information won’t make you smarter

Everyone wants to be smarter. Sometimes, we’re just amazed by those who can think quickly and deeply. To be like them, we easily make the assumption that the larger our knowledge bases are, the smarter we become. While this assumption is true in some sense, it doesn’t present the whole picture. Compared with how much information we come across, it’s more important to pay attention to how we interpret the information.

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To ensure that we can absorb information more efficiently, we have to work on improving on our critical thinking skills. Actually, all truly smart people have gone through the following four stages to gain their well-developed minds. Check the following to see which critical thinking stage you’re staying at now and how you can reach the final stage:[1]

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Level 1 thinker: believing in what others tell you.

When you fail to think independently, you will start to believe everything the majority tells you. People at this level of thinking tend to believe what other people or society tell them to believe. To change this mindset, it all starts with you. You should feel confident in your ability to use your own mind to solve your own problems. So, stop relying on the majority and start to think on your own.[2]

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Level 2 thinker: trapped in binary opposition.

Do you think in terms of binary? If so, you may view the world as either black or white. You are unable to accept the ambiguities in your everyday life. You might find that you fall into the trap of confirmation bias, which means that you only accept information compatible with your stance and simply filter out opposing ideas. So, learn to recognize the in-between area’s in your everyday life and stop filtering out opposing ideas. Absorb different areas of interest and learn to look at things from new angles.

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Level 3 thinker: being able to see things from more than one dimension.

This type of thinker is able to judge things from more than one dimension. For example, when buying a cup, they know that cups with higher prices are more durable, and cups with lower quality cost less money. They can see the pros and cons in everything and are able to judge the validity of information they read logically. However, they have a narrower perspective than the level 4 thinkers. To reach level 3, you should first realize the fact there is no definite answer for everything, and then you should keep challenging the assumptions you have, especially those you’ve adhered to for a long time. With constant practice in this, you can develop your own point of view when analysing an issue.

Level 4 thinker: connecting the dots and thinking in multiple dimensions.

When you become a level 4 thinker, people will be amazed by your strong intuition when making decisions. But deep down you know that mature critical thinking ability enables you to connect the seemingly irrelevant dots, and so you can see things from a much wider perspective than others. While you’re used to thinking outside the box, even when you encounter an unfamiliar problem, you can instantly identify the root of the problem, and come up with the most effective solution.

When you start to progress through the stages of critical thinking development, you will start to learn how to connect the dots. When you connect the dots, you learn to think for yourself and form a full and complete picture. Yet, the most amazing thing you will find is that you now have the ability to possess insights that other people simply cannot.

Reference

[1] The Critical Thinking Community: Critical Thinking Development A Stage Theory
[2] The Critical Thinking Community: Critical Thinking Development A Stage Theory

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Dr. Jamie Schwandt

Lean Six Sigma Master Black Belt & Red Team Critical Thinker

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Last Updated on December 10, 2019

How to Stay Motivated and Reach Your Big Goals in Life

How to Stay Motivated and Reach Your Big Goals in Life

It is hardly a secret that the key to successfully accomplishing one goal after another is staying motivated. There are, of course, tasks which successful people may not like at all, yet they find motivation to complete them because they recognize how each particular task serves a greater goal.

So how to stay motivated most of the time? Here are 5 simple yet effective ways on how to stay motivated and get what you want:

1. Find Your Good Reasons

Anything you do, no matter how simple, has a number of good reasons behind it.

You may not be able to find good reasons to do some tasks at first but, if you take just a few moments to analyze them, you will easily spot something good. We also have many tasks which don’t need any reasoning at all – we’ve been doing them for so long that they feel natural.

If you’re ever stuck with some tasks you hate and there seems to be no motivation to complete it whatsoever, here’s what you need to do: find your good reasons.

Even when you set goals, there needs to be reasons behind these goals. They may not be obvious, but stay at it until you see some, as this will bring your motivation back and will help you finish the task.

Some ideas for what a good reason can be:

  • A material reward – quite often, you will get paid for doing something you normally don’t like doing at all.
  • Personal gain – you will learn something new or will perhaps improve yourself in a certain way.
  • A feeling of accomplishment – at least you’ll be able to walk away feeling great about finding the motivation and courage to complete such a tedious task.
  • A step closer to your bigger goal – even the biggest accomplishments in history have started small and relied on simple and far less pleasant tasks than you might be working on. Every task you complete brings you closer to the ultimate goal, and acknowledging this always feels good.

2. Make It Fun

When it comes to motivation, attitude is everything. Different people may have completely opposite feelings towards the same task: some will hate it, others will love it.

Why do you think this happens? It’s simple: some of us find ways to make any task interesting and fun to do!

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Take sports for example. Visiting your local gym daily for a half-an-hour workout session sounds rather boring to some. Yet many others love the idea!

They like exercising not only because they recognize the good reasons behind it, but simply because it’s fun! At certain time of their daily schedule, they find going to gym to be the best thing to do, simply because nothing else will fit their time and lifestyle so perfectly.

Depending on how you look at it, you can have fun doing just about anything! Just look for ways of having fun, and you’ll find them!

A simple approach is to start working on any task by asking yourself a few questions:

  • How can I enjoy this task?
  • What can I do to make this task fun for myself and possibly for others?
  • How can I make this work the best part of my day?

As long as you learn to have the definite expectation of any task being potentially enjoyable, you will start to feel motivated.

Some of you will probably think of a thing or two which are valid exceptions from this statement, like something you always hate doing no matter how hard you try making it fun. You’re probably right, and that’s why I don’t claim everything to be fun.

However, most tasks have a great potential of being enjoyable, and so looking for ways to have fun while working is definitely a good habit to acquire.

3. Change Your Approach And Don’t Give Up

When something doesn’t feel right, it’s always a good time to take a moment and look for a different approach for the task.

You may be doing everything correctly and most efficiently, but such approach isn’t necessarily the most motivating one. Quite often, you can find a number of obvious tweaks to your current approach which will both change your experience and open up new possibilities.

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That’s why saying “one way or another” is so common — if you really want to accomplish your goal, there is always a way; and most likely, there’s more than one way.

If a certain approach doesn’t work for you, find another one, and keep trying until you find the one which will both keep you motivated and get you the desired results.

Some people think that trying a different approach means giving up. They take pride in being really stubborn and refusing to try any other options on their way towards the goal.

My opinion on this is that the power of focus is great, but you should be focusing on your goal, and not limiting your options by focusing on just one way to accomplish it it.

4. Recognize Your Progress

Everything you may be working on can be easily split into smaller parts and stages. For most goals, it is quite natural to split the process of accomplishing them into smaller tasks and milestones. There are a few reasons behind doing this, and one of them is tracking your progress.

We track our progress automatically with most activities. But to stay motivated, you need to recognize your progress, not merely track it.

Here’s how tracking and recognizing your progress is different:

Tracking is merely taking a note of having reached a certain stage in your process. Recognizing is taking time to look at a bigger picture and realize where exactly you are, and how much more you have left to do.

For example, if you’re going to read a book, always start by going through the contents table. Getting familiar with chapter titles and memorizing their total number will make it easier for you to recognize your progress as you read. Confirming how many pages your book has before starting it is also a good idea.

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You see, reading any book you will be automatically looking at page numbers and chapter titles, but without knowing the total number of pages, this information will have little meaning.

Somehow, it is human nature to always want things to happen in short term or even at once. Even though we split complex tasks into simpler actions, we don’t quite feel the satisfaction until all is done and the task is fully complete.

For many scenarios though, the task is so vast that such approach will drain all the motivation out of you long before you have a chance to reach your goal. That’s why it is important to always take small steps and recognize the positive different and progress made. This is how your motivation can sustain in long term.

5. Reward Yourself

This is a trick everyone likes: rewarding yourself is always pleasant. This is also one of the easiest and at the same time most powerful ways to stay motivated!

Feeling down about doing something? Dread the idea of working on some task? Hate the whole idea of working? You’re not alone.

Right from the beginning, agree on some deliverables which will justify yourself getting rewarded. As soon as you get one of the agreed results, take time to reward yourself in some way.

For some tasks, just taking a break and relaxing for a few minutes will do.

For others, you may want to get a fresh cup of coffee and even treat yourself a dessert.

For even bigger and more demanding tasks, reward yourself by doing something even more enjoyable, like going to a cinema or taking a trip to some place nice, or even buying yourself something.

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Your progress may not seem to others like anything worth celebrating but, take time and do it anyway! It is your task and your reward, so any ways to stay motivated are good.

The more you reward yourself for the honestly made progress, the more motivated you will feel about reaching new milestones, thus finally accomplishing your goal.

Mix and Match

Now that you have these five ways of staying motivated, it is a good moment to give you the key to them all: mix and match!

Pick one of the techniques and apply it to your situation. If it doesn’t work, or if you simply want to get more motivated, try another technique right way. Mix different approaches and match them to your task for the best results.

Just think about it: Finding good reasons to work on your task is bound to helping you feel better; and identifying ways to make it fun will help you enjoy the task even more.

Or, if you plan a few points for easier tracking of your progress and on top of that, agree on rewarding yourself as you go; this will make you feel most motivated about anything you have to work through.

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Featured photo credit: Lucas Lenzi via unsplash.com

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