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How to Think Quickly yet Critically to Make the Right Decisions

How to Think Quickly yet Critically to Make the Right Decisions

Do you have problems making decisions?

If yes, don’t worry, as this is a very common issue.

Despite having to make thousands of decisions everyday, it’s likely that no one ever taught you about decision making.

However, as you’ll soon see, decision making is something that can definitely be learned. Instead of being apprehensive about making decisions – you’ll find yourself looking forward to it.

Making Good Decisions Is Hard, But Why?

Step back in time, and imagine a scenario where you were forced to make a quick decision.

Perhaps you were negotiating the purchase of a new car, considering a job offer, or choosing a last-minute holiday package. All of these situations would have tested out your decision making prowess.

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Studies have shown that it’s harder to make the right decisions when we are suffering from anxiety, stress or time pressures.[1]

As an example, if you’re anxious about a situation (such as navigating through an unfamiliar city), then your brain is likely to direct you towards the safest options. Unfortunately, these options may not be the best choices.

Good Decision Makers Are Often the Winners in Life

For sure, you can go through life by making below-par decisions.

However, if you want to excel in your career, boost your finances and live an organized and happy life – you’ll definitely need to be able to make good decisions quickly.

I’m guessing that you probably encounter daily or weekly situations where you need to make important choices or decisions. If you don’t know how to think critically (I’ll explain more about this in a moment), then you’ll be leaving your fortunes to lady luck, rather than forging your own path in life.

“It is in your moments of decision that your destiny is shaped.” – Tony Robbins

Critical Thinking will boost your decision-making power

If you’re unfamiliar with the term critical thinking, I’ll give you a straightforward definition: Thinking that is open-minded, clear, rational, and uses evidence to reach a conclusion or answer.

Making the right decisions usually requires a combination of knowing how to think quickly and analytically.

Let’s take a look now at three ways you can boost your decision-making powers.

Prioritize your decisions.

Becoming a great decision maker starts with knowing which decisions are the most important or urgent.

Many of us have a tendency to prioritize decisions that we’re comfortable or good at making – rather than taking on more challenging decisions. The problem with this is obvious. The big, important decisions that require our attention are pushed aside and neglected.

To change this behavior, consider creating a daily list of decisions that you need to make, and then ordering them by priority.

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Create mental space to allow superior decision making.

If like most people, your mind is cluttered by a relentless stream of news, gossip and information, then you’re likely to find that decision making is harder than it should be.

You must find time and space for your mind to dwell on choices, and to quickly reach decisions. There are several simple ways you can do this, including: taking a walk in the park, enjoying a relaxing bath, and turning your focus to a subject other than the one you need to decide on.

By doing one of the above actions (or something similar), you’ll give your mind breathing space to work subconsciously on reaching a decision. You’ll also be putting aside any pent-up anxieties or concerns about making a decision.

Develop a flexible mental approach.

Organizations and individuals who are stuck in a rut can often be heard using the following expression: “I/We always do it this way.” It’s no wonder they have great difficulty in making tangible progress.

To be a great decision maker, you must be willing to be flexible and open-minded. As Albert Einstein cleverly said: “We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.”

The trick is to step outside of your normal thinking patterns. Instead, seek fresh, inspired answers by letting your mind be creative and free. As an example for you, if you normally take days over a major decision – why not try reducing this time to hours?

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To boost your success, think quickly, think critically

Thinking quickly just takes practice. In time, as your confidence builds, you’ll be able to make almost instant decisions about day-to-day matters.

For more important decisions, however, you should turn to critical thinking methods.

These can be summarized as follows:

  • Recognising the links between ideas.
  • Approaching problems in a systematic and consistent manner.
  • Identifying errors and inconsistencies in reasoning.
  • Determining the relevance and importance of ideas and arguments.
  • Using evidence to reach conclusions and decisions.

To illustrate the points above, picture yourself running your own business. You’ve had some initial success on your own, and you’re now considering hiring someone to help you grow the business further.

To reach a decision on this, firstly, you could write down the pros and cons of employing someone. You could then take it a stage further, by looking at the likely financial benefits and potential risks of taking someone on board. Finally, you could research similar businesses to yours, to see if they were able to successfully expand by hiring staff.

Successful people know how to make everyday decisions quickly. However, they also know how to pick out vital decisions that need more time and focus.

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By learning critical thinking, you’ll boost your confidence in making decisions. This will naturally lead to boosting your success and happiness in life.

Featured photo credit: Pixabay via pixabay.com

Reference

More by this author

Craig J Todd

Freelance Writer helping businesses and people to thrive.

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Last Updated on February 19, 2019

Why a Life Without Pain Is the Guarantee to True Suffering

Why a Life Without Pain Is the Guarantee to True Suffering

No one wants to suffer. As a general rule, people like to avoid hurt and pain as much as possible. As a species, humans want a painless existence so much that scientists make a living trying to create it.

People can now choose “pain-free” labor for babies, and remedies to cure back pain, headaches, body-pains and even mental pains are a dime a dozen. Beyond medicine, we also work hard to experience little pain even when it comes to loss; often times we believe a breakup won’t hurt as much if we are the ones to call it off.

But would a world without pain truly be painless? It’s unlikely. In fact, it would probably be painful exactly for that reason.

If people never experienced hurt, they wouldn’t know what it was. On the surface level, that seems like a blessing, but think for a moment: if we didn’t know pain, how would we know peace? If you don’t know you’ve hurt or been hurt, how would you know that you need to heal? Imagine someone only knowing they have an incurable cancer at the final stage because no obvious symptoms have appeared at early stages.

Without the feeling of pain, people won’t be aware of dangerous situations—what should or shouldn’t do for survival.

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Pain Is Our Guardian

Pain serves to protect human beings from harmful actions. It’s the same reason parents teach babies that fire equals hot, and that hot equals hurt. Should the baby still place its hand in a fire or on a stove, the intense pain remains so memorable, that the child is certain never to repeat that action.

In the same way, pain within human bodies can serve as a warning that something is not right. Because you know what it is to feel “well,” you know what it is to feel poorly.[1]

Along with serving as a teacher of what not to do, pain also teaches you what you are made of in terms of what you can handle as an individual.

While the cliche, “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” is a tired term, it’s used excessively for a reason: it’s true. Pain helps you learn to cope with life’s inevitable difficulties and sadnesses— to develop the grit it takes to push past hardships and carry on.

Whether it’s a shattering pain, like the loss of a loved one or a debilitating accident, pain affects everyone differently. But it still affects everyone. Take a breakup as an example, anyone who has experienced it knows it can hurt to the point of feeling physical. Especially the first breakup. At a young age, it feels like the loss of the only love you’ll ever know. As you grow and learn, you realize you’re more resilient with every ended relationship.

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No Pain, No Happiness

You only know happiness when you have known pain. While the idea of constant happiness sounds nice, there is little chance it would be. Without the comparison to happiness, there’s no reason to be grateful for it. That is to say, without ever knowing sadness or pain, you would have no reason to be grateful for happiness.

In reality, there is always something missing, or something unpleasant, but it is only through those realizations that you know to be grateful when you feel you have it all. Read more about why happiness and pain have to exist together: Chasing Happiness Won’t Make You Happy

In a somewhat counter-intuitive finding, researchers found one of the things that brings about the most happiness is challenge. When people are tested, they experience a greater sense of accomplishment and happiness when they are successful. It is largely for this reason that low-income individuals can often feel happier than those who have a sense of wealth.[2]

This is a great thing to remember the next time you feel you would be happier if you just had a little more cash.

Avoiding Pain Leads to More Suffering

Pain is inevitable, embrace it positively. Anyone who strives to have a painless life is striving for perfectionism; and perfectionism guarantees sadness because nothing will ever be perfect.

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This isn’t a bleak outlook, but rather a truthful one. The messy moments in life tend to create the best memories and gratitude. Pain often serves as a reminder of lessons learned, much like physical scars on the body.

Pain will always be painful, but it’s the hurt feelings that help wiser decisions be made.

Allow Room for the Inevitable

Learning how to tolerate pain, especially the emotional kind, is a valuable lesson.

Accepting and feeling pain makes you human. There is no weakness in that. Weakness only comes when you try to blame your own pain on someone else, expecting the blame to alleviate your hurting. There’s a saying,

“Holding on to anger is like drinking poison and expecting your enemy to die.”

Think back to the last time you were really angry with someone. Maybe you were hurt because you got laid off from a job. You felt angry and that anger caused so much pain that you could feel it in a physical way. Being angry and blaming your ex boss for that pain didn’t affect him or her in any way; you’re the only one who lost sleep over it.

The healthier thing to do in a situation like that is acknowledge your pain and the anger along with it. Accept it and explore it in an introspective way. How can you learn and grow? What is at the root of that pain? Are you truly hurting and angry about being laid off, or is the pain more a correlation to you feeling like you failed?

While uncomfortable, exploring your pain is a way to raise your self-awareness. By understanding more about yourself, you know how to deal with similar situations in the future. You can never expect to be numb to difficult situations, but you will learn to better prepare financially for the loss of a job and be grateful for an income since you now know nothing is promised (no matter how much you work or how deserving you may feel).

Pain Hurts, but Numbness Would Be Worse

Pain does not feel good, but the bad feeling of it will help you learn and grow. It makes the sweet moments in life even sweeter and the gratitude more sincere.

To have a happier and more successful life, you don’t learn from success or accomplishment, but through pain and failures. For it is in those moments that you learn how to do better in the future or at least cope a little more easily.

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You are the strong person you are today because of the hardships this life has presented to you. While you may have felt out of control when those hard times came, the one thing you will always have control over is how you choose to react to things. The next time you hurt or you’re angry or sad, acknowledge it and allow yourself to ruminate in it. Then take a deep breath and start learning from that pain. You’ve got this!

Featured photo credit: Stocksnap via stocksnap.io

Reference

[1] University of Calgary: Why is Pain Important?
[2] Greater Good Magazine: The Importance of Pain

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