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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

UK Writer who loves to use the power of words to inspire and motivate.

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Published on October 30, 2020

11 Essential Philosophy Books That Will Open Your Mind

11 Essential Philosophy Books That Will Open Your Mind

There are numerous ways to build your mindset, but none are as profound as reading philosophy books. Through these books, some of the greatest minds around ask questions and delve deep into thought.

While there isn’t always a clear and distinct answer to the many questions of philosophy, the entire field is a gateway to a higher sense of self. It gets you to think about all manner of things.

Below, we cover some of the essential philosophy books that are best for those who are just starting or looking to expand their mind.

How To Choose a Good Philosophy Book

Before getting to this list, we’ve researched ideal philosophy books to help you expand your mind.

We’ve found that the best philosophy books excel in the following criteria:

  • Complexity – Philosophy isn’t a subject that you can’t dive into immediately and understand everything. The books that we selected are great for people making the first leap.
  • Viewpoint – With philosophy, in particular, the author’s views are more important than in your standard book. We want to ensure the viewpoints and thoughts being discussed still hold up to this day.
  • Open-mindedness – Philosophy is all about asking perplexing questions and unraveling the answer. You might not reach a conclusion in the end, but these books are designed to get you to think.
  • Culture – The last criterion is culture. A lot of these books come from early philosophers from centuries ago or possibly from recent years. These philosophy books should paint a picture of the culture.

1. Meditations

    One that you’ll find on many of these types of lists is Meditations and for good reason. It’s the only document of its kind to ever be made. The book focuses on the private thoughts of the world’s most powerful man who advises himself revolving around making good on his responsibilities and the obligations of his position.

    We know enough about Marcus Aurelius to know that he was trained in stoic philosophy and practiced every night on a series of spirituality exercises. These exercises were designed to make him humble, patient, empathetic, generous, and strong in the face of whatever problem he had to face off. And he faced plenty of problems since he was basically the emperor of roughly a third of the planet.

    All of that is poured into this book, and you are bound to remember a line or more that will be applicable in your life. It’s a philosophy book staple.

    Buy Meditations here.

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    2. Letters From a Stoic

      Similar to Marcus Aurelius, Seneca was another powerful man in Rome. He was a brilliant writer at the time and was the kind of guy to give great advice to his most trusted friends. Fortunately, much of his advice comes in letters, and those letters happen to be in this book. The letters themselves provided advice on dealing with grief, wealth, poverty, success, failure, education, and more.

      While Seneca was a stoic, he has a more practical approach and has borrowed from other schools of thought for his advice. As he said when he was alive, “I don’t care about the author if the line is good.” Similar to Meditations, there are several brilliant lines and advice that are still relevant to this day.

      Buy “Letters From a Stoic” here.

      3. Nicomachean Ethics

        Aristotle was a famous Greek philosopher at the time with profound knowledge. He’s named after a form of logic as well called Aristotelian logic. Through this book, Aristotle writes about the root of all Aristotelian ethics. In other words, this book contains the moral ideas that form a base for pretty much all of western civilization.

        Buy “Nicomachean Ethics” here.

        4. Beyond Good & Evil

          Friedrich Nietzsche played a big role in the philosophical world. He was one of the leading philosophers of the existential movement, and it all came through this particular book. He is a brilliant mind. However, the issue with a lot of his work is that it’s all written in German.

          Fortunately, this book is one of the slightly more accessible ones since it’s translated. Within the book, he breaks down the paradoxes of conventional understandings of morality. By doing this, he sets the stage for a lot of the 20th-century thought process that followed.

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          Buy “Beyond Good & Evil” here.

          5. Meditations on First Philosophy

            In Meditations on First Philosophy, René Descartes breaks his book down into six meditations. The book takes a journalistic style that is structured much like a six-day course of meditation. On day one, he gives instructions on discarding all belief in things that are not guaranteed. After that, he tries to establish what can be known for sure. Similar to Meditations, this is a staple and influential philosophical text that you can pick up.

            Buy “Meditations on First Philosophy” here.

            6. Ethics

              Written by Benedict de Spinoza, this came at a time during the Age of Enlightenment. Enlightenment was a movement that dominated the world of ideas in Europe during the 17th and 18th centuries and with that, many schools of thought emerged and were presented through books.

              Out of the many influential philosophy books published back then, Ethics dominated during this period as it discussed the basis of rationalism. Even though we’ve developed further beyond that, Ethics can introduce new ways of thinking from this particular school of thought.

              Buy “Ethics” here.

              7. Critique of Pure Reason

                Immanuel Kant is another great philosopher who brought together two of history’s biggest opposing schools of thought into a single book. Those schools being rational thought and empirical experiential knowledge—knowledge gained through experience.

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                In Critique of Pure Reason, Kant explores human reason and then works to establish its illusions and get down to core constituents. Overall, you can learn more about human behavior and thought processes and thus, open your mind more to how you think and process everything around you.

                Buy “Critique of Pure Reason” here.

                8. On the Genealogy of Morals

                  Another piece of work from Nietzsche that is accessible to us is On the Genealogy of Morals. According to Nietzsche, the purpose of this book is to call attention to his previous writings. That said, it does more than that so you don’t need to worry so much about reading his other books.

                  In this book, he expands on the cryptic aphorisms that he brings up in Beyond Good and Evil and offers a discussion or morality in a work that is more accessible than a lot of his previous work.

                  Buy “On the Genealogy of Morals” here.

                  9. Everything Is F*cked

                    The only book on this list that’s been written in the past few years, this book by Mark Manson aims to explain why we all need hope while also accepting that hope can often lead us to ruin too.

                    While many of the books on this list are all practical, this one is the most realistic one since not even the greatest of philosophical minds could predict things like technology, Twitter, and how our political world has shaped.

                    Manson delivers a profound book that taps into the minds of our ancestral philosophers, such as Plato, Nietzsche, and Tom Waits, and digs deep into various topics and how all of it is connected—religion and politics, our relationship with money, entertainment, and the internet.

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                    Overall, this book serves as a challenge to all of us—a challenge to be more honest with ourselves and connect with the world in a way we’ve never tried before.

                    Buy “Everything Is F*cked” here.

                    10. Reasons and Persons

                      One of the most challenging philosophy books to read on this list, Reasons and Persons will send you on quite the trip. Through a lot of painstaking logic, Derek Parfit shows us some unique perspectives on self-interest, personhood, and whether our actions are good or evil.

                      Considered by many to be an important psychological text around the 20th century, the arguments made about those topics will open your mind to a brand new way of thinking.

                      Buy “Reasons and Persons” here.

                      11. The Republic of Plato

                        Written by Plato himself, this book is the origin of political science and offers a brilliant critique of government. As you would expect, the critique is still important today. If you’re looking to understand the inner thoughts of Plato, this is one of the best books around.

                        Buy “The Republic of Plato” here.

                        Final Thoughts

                        Philosophy books take a while to digest as they provide profound knowledge and leave you with many questions. With many of these philosophy books, you need to take your time with them, and you might have to read through them a few times as well. And with every read, your mind will only expand.

                        More Books to Open Your Mind

                        Featured photo credit: Laura Chouette via unsplash.com

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