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Successful People Don’t Just Listen to What People Tell Them, They Have These 7 Critical Thinking Habits

Successful People Don’t Just Listen to What People Tell Them, They Have These 7 Critical Thinking Habits

Ever been stuck with trying to get to a solution, but not getting anywhere? If you nod affirmatively, you may be lacking in critical thinking. What you have to remember about critical thinking though, is that you will not get from 0 to 100 in just a second. There are many skills that you need to learn and understand before you can get to use your brain this way : you inquire into and enquire about all the facets of a problem, before actually getting to solve it, keeping your “judgment” well out of the way.

Why Is Critical Thinking So Hard To Achieve?

The toughest thing about critical thinking is the fact that you need to suspend your judgment while you do so, keeping your very open to the thought that the belief you have about something, can in the next instant, proven to be wrong or incorrect. Also, as a critical thinker, you are in a way deviating from the norm, which means all the things that your peers believe and even want you to believe, can, in fact, be incorrect. The very basis of critical thinking is an almost continuous back and forth between making theories or beliefs, and then trying to accept or eliminate what works and what doesn’t. [1]

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Are You On The Right Path To Critical Thinking?

Despite the difficulty of critical thinking, it is becoming more and more of a valued tool in the professional field – perhaps because there is a dearth of critical thinkers. So to see whether you are the next best thing since sliced bread when it comes to critical thinking, you should try to take The California Critical Thinking Disposition Inventory – a psychological test that can be used to measure whether people are disposed to think critically or not, by measuring seven different thinking habits, or essential skills. [2]

  1. Truth-seeking: Are you a flame carrier for truth, and nothing but? Do you try and understand how things actually are instead of believing hearsay?
  2. Open-mindedness: Is new information acceptable, good or just bad to you? Do you give new ideas, even if they “sound” weird or wrong, a fair chance? Or are you closed to modernity?
  3. Analyticity: Do you try and find and understand the reasons behind things? Are your decisions gut-based or do they have pros and cons behind them?
  4. Systematicity: Are you orderly in your approach of problem-solving? Do you break down a problem into parts and then tackle them one by one?
  5. Confidence in Reasoning: Do you always defer to other people or is your own belief more important to you? Are you confident in your own judgment and do you think that you have reasons for your confidence? Do you like to evaluate your own thinking?
  6. Inquisitiveness: Do you question, and question often? Are you full of curiosity?
  7. The Maturity of Judgment: Do you take time in reaching a conclusion or do you jump to conclusions? Do you try and analyze things from different perspectives and take other people’s experiences into account, instead of just valuing yourself above it all?

So the essential skills needed in critical thinking are analyzing, applying the standards, classifying, seeking further information, logical deduction, predictions and finally and most importantly: “transforming” the conclusions into knowledge. [3]

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The Tools Used In Critical Thinking

Frankly, critical thinking is basically a series of tos and fros between theories or beliefs and their elimination or acceptance. From the birth of a belief to its eventual binning or acceptance, there are many a tool one can use that keep the judgment suspended till the scales of justice, science and logic list on one side.

  • A Sound Argument: Much like a pros and cons list, an argument is when we present a list of whys and why nots for a belief and then reach a sound conclusion: the statement about what should be done or believed. Arguments, however, need to be proven.
  • Deductive Reasoning: Deductive reasoning often follows a set of conclusions after a sound argument; you can then, following logic, “deduce” what those conclusions now state in their entirety. Sometimes though, deductive reasoning is unable to prove something by mere logic.
  • Inductive Reasoning: So when arguments and deductive reasoning refuse to provide a solution, this is where inductive reasoning steps in. Starting with eliminative and enumerative reasoning and then moving onto abductive reasoning: a logical happening that happens by “chance” but basically can be traced back to the very problem we are trying to solve. Not quite gut, but somewhere close.

How To Put Critical Thinking To Use

What have been stated above are beliefs. Now for you to put critical thinking to use, you need to internalize and channelize these theoretical principles and apply them to your daily thought processes. Be unafraid – state your opinions, ask your questions, admit to being wrong, own up to thinking that you are right, be ready to be questioned in return and lastly: know that your belief system is not infallible.

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Once you start to apply critical thinking, you may end up discovering that what you believed in is actually a falsification. Chin up, cheer up and be critical. The ultimate goal or aim of critical thinking is not to break something but to build something even more awesome in place. [4]

Don’t be wary of being in the wrong. If all the great minds thought like that and refused to question their own theories or the one of the greats before them, the world would still be thought of as flat, with the sun revolving around it…

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Featured photo credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/jdlasica/8137944472/in/photolist-dp86ns-daCddA-daCdqW-dp7W7p-daCdcJ-daCahn-fPZ51a-7VmKUi-daCanc-daCasM-5A1b59-5AC41U-dp7Wi2-6iDT9c-59YrP5-5sTzRQ-7unjGA-7uirSx-54ZKPQ-EixX1V-Du4fYm-RJXHou-Eiy2gP-DZEA9h-Du4kZU-87VWBH-QRzUB3-8hUVRV-aksfAD-5WbiCG-bWsMy5-es2SBd-5A1b5U-7NthYi-4yjxQV-DPEZpp-59Ys6o-9bEq8v-QfdyK-5RizKx-4z24FY-4yWKu6-d9XJSe-4z23Pm-4yWLqX-8QuTjg-bBnnBF-ggBEsp-4x7MLg-4xBaCk via flickr.com

Reference

[1] Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute: Critical Thinking
[2] Insight Assessment: CCTDI
[3] University of Michigan: Critical Thinking Skills
[4] University of Hong Kong: Improving Critical Thinking

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Last Updated on October 30, 2019

How the Stages of Change Model Helps You Change Your Habits

How the Stages of Change Model Helps You Change Your Habits

Change is tough, there’s no doubt about it. Old habits are hard to shift, and adopting a new lifestyle can feel like an uphill battle!

In this article, you will learn about a simple yet powerful model:

Stages of change model, that explains the science behind personal transformation.

You’ll discover how and why some changes stick whereas others don’t last, and how long it takes to build new habits.

What is the Stages of Change Model?

Developed by researchers J.O. Prochaska and Carlo C. DiClemente over 30 years ago[1] and outlined in their book Changing For Good, the Stages of Change Model, also known as the Transtheoretical Model, was formed as a result of the authors’ research with smokers.

Prochaska and DiClemente were originally interested in the question of why some smokers were able to quit on their own, whereas others required professional help. Their key conclusion was that smokers (or anyone else with a bad habit) quits only when they are ready to do so.

Here’s an illustration done by cartoonist and illustrator Simon Kneebone about the different stages a smoker experiences when they try to quit smoking:

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    The Stages of Change Model looks at how these conscious decisions are made. It emphasizes that change isn’t easy. People can spend a long time stuck in a stage, and some may never reach their goals.[2]

    The model has been applied in the treatment of smoking, alcoholism, and drugs. It is also a useful way of thinking about any bad habit. Social workers, therapists, and psychologists draw on the model to understand their patients’ behaviors, and to explain the change process to the patients themselves.

    The key advantages to the model is that it is simple to understand, is backed by extensive research, and can be applied in many situations.

    The Stages of Change Model is a well-established psychological model that outlines six stages of personal change:

    1. Precontemplation
    2. Contemplation
    3. Determination
    4. Action
    5. Maintenance
    6. Termination

    How are these stages relevant to changing habits?

    To help you visualize the stages of change and how each progresses to the next one, please take a look at this wheel:[3]

      Let’s look at the six stages of change,[4] together with an example that will show you how the model works in practice:

      Stage 1: Precontemplation

      At this stage, an individual does not plan to make any positive changes in the next six months. This may because they are in denial about their problem, feel too overwhelmed to deal with it, or are too discouraged after multiple failed attempts to change.

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      For example, someone may be aware that they need to start exercising, but cannot find the motivation to do so. They might keep thinking about the last time they tried (and failed) to work out regularly. Only when they start to realize the advantages of making a change will they progress to the next stage.

      Stage 2: Contemplation

      At this stage, the individual starts to consider the advantages of changing. They start to acknowledge that altering their habits would probably benefit them, but they spend a lot of time thinking about the downside of doing so. This stage can last for a long time – possibly a year or more.

      You can think of this as the procrastinating stage. For example, an individual begins to seriously consider the benefits of regular exercise, but feels resistant when they think about the time and effort involved. When the person starts putting together a concrete plan for change, they move to the next stage.

      The key to moving from this stage to the next is the transformation of an abstract idea to a belief (e.g. from “Exercise is a good, sensible thing to do” to “I personally value exercise and need to do it.)[5]

      Stage 3: Preparation

      At this point, the person starts to put a plan in place. This stage is brief, lasting a few weeks. For example, they may book a session with a personal trainer and enrol on a nutrition course.

      Someone who drinks to excess may make an appointment with a drug and alcohol counsellor; someone with a tendency to overwork themselves might start planning ways to devise a more realistic schedule.

      Stage 4: Action

      When they have decided on a plan, the individual must then put it into action. This stage typically lasts for several months. In our example, the person would begin attending the gym regularly and overhauling their diet.

      Stage 4 is the stage at which the person’s desire for change becomes noticeable to family and friends. However, in truth, the change process began a long time ago. If someone you know seems to have suddenly changed their habits, it’s probably not so sudden after all! They will have progressed through Stages 1-3 first – you probably just didn’t know about it.

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      Stage 5: Maintenance

      After a few months in the Action stage, the individual will start to think about how they can maintain their changes, and make lifestyle adjustments accordingly. For instance, someone who has adopted the habit of regular workouts and a better diet will be vigilant against old triggers (such as eating junk food during a stressful time at work) and make a conscious decision to protect their new habits.

      Unless someone actively engages with Stage 5, their new habits are liable to come unstuck. Someone who has stuck to their new habits for many months – perhaps a year or longer – may enter Stage 6.

      Maintenance can be challenging because it entails coming up with a new set of habits to lock change in place. For instance, someone who is maintaining their new gym-going habit may have to start improving their budgeting skills in order to continue to afford their gym membership.

      Stage 6: Termination

      Not many people reach this stage, which is characterized by a complete commitment to the new habit and a certainty that they will never go back to their old ways. For example, someone may find it hard to imagine giving up their gym routine, and feel ill at the thought of eating junk food on a regular basis.

      However, for the majority of people, it’s normal to stay in the Maintenance period indefinitely. This is because it takes a long time for a new habit to become so automatic and natural that it sticks forever, with little effort. To use another example, an ex-smoker will often find it hard to resist the temptation to have “just one” cigarette even a year or so after quitting. It can take years for them to truly reach the Termination stage, at which point they are no more likely to smoke than a lifelong non-smoker.

      How long does each stage take?

      You should be aware that some people remain in the same stage for months or even years at a time. Understanding this model will help you be more patient with yourself when making a change. If you try to force yourself to jump from Contemplation to Maintenance, you’ll just end up frustrated. On the other hand, if you take a moment to assess where you are in the change process, you can adapt your approach.

      So if you need to make changes quickly and you are finding it hard to progress to the next stage, it’s probably time to get some professional help or adopt a new approach to forming habits.

      The limitations of this model

      The model is best applied when you decide in advance precisely what you want to achieve, and know exactly how you will measure it (e.g. number of times per week you go to the gym, or number of cigarettes smoked per day). Although the model has proven useful for many people, it does have limitations.

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      Require the ability to set a realistic goal

      For a start, there are no surefire ways of assessing whereabouts in the process you are – you just have to be honest with yourself and use your own judgement. Second, it assumes that you are physically capable of making a change, whereas in fact you might either need to adjust your goals or seek professional help.

      If your goal isn’t realistic, it doesn’t matter whether you follow the stages – you still won’t get results. You need to decide for yourself whether your aims are reasonable.[6]

      Difficult to judge your progress

      The model also assumes that you are able to objectively measure your own successes and failures, which may not always be the case.[7] For instance, let’s suppose that you are trying to get into the habit of counting calories as part of your weight-loss efforts. However, even though you may think that you are recording your intake properly, you might be over or under-estimating.

      Research shows that most people think they are getting enough exercise and eating well, but in actual fact aren’t as healthy as they believe. The model doesn’t take this possibility into account, meaning that you could believe yourself to be in the Action stage yet aren’t seeing results. Therefore, if you are serious about making changes, it may be best to get some expert advice so that you can be sure the changes you are making really will make a positive difference.

      Conclusion

      The Stages Of Change Model can be a wonderful way to understand change in both yourself and others.

      While there’re some limitations in it, the Stages of Change Model helps to visualize how you go through changes so you know what to expect when you’re trying to change a habit or make some great changes in life.

      Start by identifying one of your bad habits. Where are you in the process? What could you do next to move forwards?

      Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

      Reference

      [1] Psych Central: Stages Of Change
      [2] Boston University School Of Public Health: The Transtheoretical Model (Stages Of Change)
      [3] Empowering Change: Stages of Change
      [4] Boston University School Of Public Health: The Transtheoretical Model (Stages Of Change)
      [5] Psychology Today: 5 Steps To Changing Any Behavior
      [6] The Transtheoretical Model: Limitations Of The Transtheoretical Model
      [7] Health Education Research: Transtheoretical Model & Stages Of Change: A Critique

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