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To Make Wise Decisions, Ask Yourself These Questions Every Time

To Make Wise Decisions, Ask Yourself These Questions Every Time

There is a reason why critical thinking remains one of the most coveted skills among employers, as it drives effective problem solving and enables informed decision making.

This is also a viable life-skill, as the ability to think critically ensures that we make the right choices and form relevant judgments in any given situation.

So whether you are a plumber who needs to work out the best materials to use for a particular job or a parent whose child is behaving badly and without obvious reason, critical thinking is a skill that can create positive and mutually beneficial solutions for all.

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Critical Thinking Is a Skill That New Graduates Lack

While critical thinking may be an important life skill, however, it is also one that we struggle to deploy on a regular basis. Not only is this one of the primary skills that new graduates lack [1] in the modern age, for example, but it is also hard to define and this means that many of us fail to realise that we are not thinking critically on a regular basis.

This lack of awareness makes it hard to master critical thinking, while opinion and subjective thought processes also cause issues in some circumstances. After all, critical thinking is defined as ‘the the objective analysis and evaluation of an issue in order to form a judgement’, so being unable to appraise circumstances impartially makes it impossible to practice this.

What Questions Should You Ask In Order to Think Critically?

Although it can take a while to become an effective critical thinker, there are questions that you can ask yourself to trigger the required cognitive process.

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These tend to encourage deeper thought processes that avoid simple, one-dimensional answers, utilizing Bloom’s Taxonomy to identify the type of questions [2] that prompt and shape critical thinking.

With this in mind, here is an insight into Bloom’s Taxonomy and the questions that encourage critical thinking in any given scenario.

Knowledge-Focused Questions

We start with the most basic questions, which prompt us to display previously learned material through the recall of facts, information and simple terms. These help to create context for specific circumstances, while laying out the individual elements. Some examples of this include:

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  • What is….?
  • When Did….Happen?
  • Why Did….Happen?
  • Who Did….?

Comprehension-Knowledge Questions

The next step is to demonstrate your understanding of these facts and data sets, primarily by posing questions which compare, interpret and translate information. These questions encourage deeper and more challenging thought processes, which in turn helps you to understand how specific facts relate to one another. For example:

  • What Evidence is There to….?
  • How Would You Compare (or Contrast)….?
  • Explain How….?

Application-based Questions

At this stage, content writers are probably nodding their heads in agreement, as this is a similar process that copywriters go through when cultivating relevant and engaging content angles. This includes application-based questions, which encourage us to apply our newly acquired knowledge and understanding in increasingly new and diverse ways. For example:

  • What Examples Are There of….?
  • How Would You Showcase Your Understanding of….?
  • How Would You Approach….?
  • What Would Happen if….?

Analysis-based Questions

When it comes to analysis-based questions, the goal is to break down data and compartmentalize information to explore underlying motives or causes. This also creates more open and thoughtful mind-sets, which enable you to think about things in an entirely different light. Here are some examples:

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  • How Would You Classify….?
  • What Inference Can You Make From….?
  • How Would You Categorize….?
  • Can You Identify….?

Evaluation-based Questions

Evaluation-based questions help you to quantify your findings and judgments, by forcing you to present arguments and defend preconceived opinions. This is also a crucial part of the process when appraising the validity of potential solutions, as you compare them against others to make an informed decision:

  • Evaluate the Contribution of …. to ….?
  • Which to Think is Better….?
  • What is the Value or Importance of….?

Creation and Synthesis-based Questions

To complete the process, there is a need to pose questions which compile the insight that you have garnered in unique and interesting ways. This can involve combining elements in new patterns or sequences, as you strive to create innovative but effective ways of completing tasks. For example:

  • What Would Happen if….?
  • Can You Propose an Alternative Interpretation for….?
  • Could We Try….?

This structured approach reflects the cognitive process that drives critical thinking, and it can become ingrained in your psyche over a period of time. More specifically, these questions will continue to challenge traditional thought processes and enable you to conceive new solutions to personal and professional relations.

Featured photo credit: Macdongtran / Pixabay via pixabay.com

Reference

[1] Fast Company: These Are The Biggest Skills That New Graduates Lack
[2] Open Educational Resources of UCD Teaching and Learning, University College Dublin: How to Ask Questions that Prompt Critical Thinking

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Last Updated on October 20, 2020

Can People Change When Changing Is So Difficult?

Can People Change When Changing Is So Difficult?

Hope is not a strategy when it comes to change. Commitment is what is needed to make real change happen. Can people change? Absolutely, but exchanging your excuses for commitment is necessary to get started.

Human nature leans toward habits, which can become ingrained over the years, but that doesn’t mean habits can be undone.

The good news is that your personality and behaviors can be changed, but it is up to you. Below are some tips to help you get started with change.

1. Figure out What You Need to Change

If you’re reading this, you’re probably already aware of something you would like to change. That’s great! The first step toward change is acknowledging that you have something you need to change.

Look at the repeated problems in your life, the issues that seem to come up time and time again. Do you keep gravitating toward the wrong relationships, but you blame the people you are choosing, rather than looking at your problem in the selection process?

Do you jump from one job to another, yet blame co-workers and bosses, rather than look at what you may be doing to cause problems and dissatisfaction on the job?

We are creatures of habit, so look at the negative patterns in your life. Then, look inside to see what’s causing these repeated life problems to occur. If you can’t figure it out on your own, consider going to a counselor for better understanding. Once you recognize the area that requires change, you can move to the next step.

2. Believe That Change Is Indeed Possible

There are people out there who believe that personality is unchangeable. When confronted with their problem, such as constant negativity, they lash back with “that’s just who I am.” It may be who you are, but does it need to be?

Change in personality and behaviors is possible. Nobody stays the same from one year to the next, let alone across a decade, so why not move change in the direction that is best for you? Be proactive about the change you want in your life, including the belief that change can occur.

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Look for success stories and people who have changed and done what you so deeply desire to do. Seeing that others have been where you have are and have accomplished the change you desire will help you in your process to accomplish that change.

3. List the Benefits of This Change

In order for people to change, they need to buy into the premise that the change is necessary for their betterment. For example, maybe your goal is to be more productive at work. There are many benefits that could come from this, including:

  • Getting more done in a shorter amount of time.
  • Having more time for your family.
  • Getting a promotion
  • Being liked and appreciated by your boss.
  • Being part of the success of the company.

One of the best ways to help yourself stick to the commitment of change is to make a list of the benefits that the change will bring in your life. Make one list of the benefits for your life and another for your loved ones. Recognizing the full spectrum of benefits, including how your change will affect those closest to you, will help you stick with the process of change.

When you have moments of weakness, or fail on a particular day or time, then getting back on track becomes easier when you review your list on a regular basis. Posting your “benefits of change” list somewhere where you see it often, such as a bathroom mirror, will help you be reminded of why you are doing what you are doing.

4. Make a Real Commitment to Change

Make a commitment to the time frame needed for the change to happen. If you want to lose 50 lbs., then set out a realistic plan of a few pounds per week and a timeline that reflects those goals.

It will take you a lot longer than a month, but setting realistic goals will help you stick to your commitment. Change happens one day at a time. It is not immediate, but over the course of time because of your dedication and commitment to the process.

It also helps if you make your goals SMART: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Time-bound.[1]

People can change using SMART goals

    An example of this would be a person who wants to become an active runner so they can tackle a half marathon. The first step would be to research what other people have done for training plans to achieve this goal.

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    Runners World lays out specifics for a beginner to train for a half marathon: “Target the Long Run: Every other week, increase your long run by 1.5 miles until you’re run/walking 13 to 14 miles. On alternate weeks, keep your long run to no longer than three miles. Your longest long run should fall two weeks before your half-marathon. Plan to take about 15 weeks to prepare for the big day.”[2]

    These kinds of specificities will help you create a personalized plan that is achievable and time-bound.

    You can learn more about writing SMART goals here.

    5. Create a Plan of Attack

    You need a set of steps outlined to succeed. This is why 12-step programs are so successful. You can’t simply walk into a meeting and be cured and changed. You need to mentally process the change in order for the change to be lasting and effective.

    Create a plan for your change. Be realistic and investigate what other people have done to change.

    For example, if you are dealing with anxiety and want to change that, then seek out therapy methods to address your problem. Stick with the therapy plan until your change process is complete. Simply hoping the anxiety will someday go away is not a plan.

    6. Commit to Action

    It is wonderful to set a goal for change and to write it down, but if you don’t act, then your mental commitment means nothing. There is no actual commitment unless action follows. To best kick start our change, the key is to act now[3].

    For example, if you committed to lose 50lbs, then now is the time to go join a gym, hire a trainer, and walk into a weight loss clinic to get support. We can make up our mind to be determined to change, but if action does not follow soon thereafter, then you will likely fail.

    If you wait until later that week, you will get caught up in doing your daily routine, things for works, taking care of others, or whatever it may be; there will be distractions that will derail you from taking action later. There is no better time to take action than when you make the decision to change.

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    For example, if you decide you want to finally write that book that is in your mind, but you don’t have a working laptop, then go and get a laptop today. Then, set aside an hour each day after work (and on your calendar) so that you can write. Instead of going out with friends after work, you are committing to achieve this goal, and you have time set aside to make that goal happen.

    7. Find a Support System

    When people want to change, finding a support system is key. A great way to find support is through group therapy or support groups. If you have a substance abuse issue, for example, you can find groups that specialize is supporting you through recovery and change.

    If you prefer to find support in the comfort of your own home, then you can look for online support forums and Facebook groups that deal with whatever change you are looking to pursue.

    Your ability to be successful in change is dependent on your ability to dive in; support systems help you with the initial dive and staying committed thereafter. and will help you stay committed to the process. Don’t underestimate the power you have by partnering with others who are seeking the same change.

    8. Get Uncomfortable

    Change should be uncomfortable. You are entering new territory and stepping out of your comfort zone. Your mind and past habits will be resistant to the change, as it is uncomfortable and difficult.

    If you give up because of the discomfort, then you are destined to fail in your pursuit of change. Embrace the discomfort associated with change and recognize that it puts you one step closer to accomplishing your goals.

    9. Stick to the Plan

    When people decide to change, sticking to it is difficult. If you get derailed from your plan, don’t berate yourself. Instead, allow yourself some margin of error and then get back on track.

    You can’t expect to go on a diet without splurging sometimes. The key is “sometimes.” The sooner you get back on track, the more successful you will be in accomplishing your change goals.

    Other researchers on the topic of change believe this process is about dedication and commitment to the change desired in our day to day lives, as Douglas LaBier from the Huffington Post so aptly stated:[4]

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    “Change occurs from awareness of what aspects of our personality we want to develop, and working hard to “practice” them in daily life.”

    Here are some tips on sticking to a plan:

    Engage in Self-Reflection

    Reflect on things that have derailed you in the past and problem solve them before they happen.

    Jot down those things that tend to get you off track. Now, list ways to combat the derailments before they happen. For example, if you are wanting to lose weight but you work late hours, then commit to morning workouts.

    If you know that in the past you would continually hit the snooze button and subsequently miss the workouts, then hire a trainer for early morning workouts. You are less likely to miss your workout if you have real money attached to it and someone counting on you to show up. You could also schedule morning workouts with a friend, so you know there is someone showing up and you don’t want to let them down.

    Brainstorm solutions for your past derailments so that this time around you are ready to stick to the plan and the commitment you have made to change.

    Define Your Commitment

    Commitment is a daily mental and physical plight when it comes to change. If your commitment is to lose weight, then be specific about how you are going to achieve your change. For example, you decide you are going to stick to 1,800 calories a day and a 1-hour workout every day.

    Then, write those goals down and chart your daily progress. Hold yourself accountable.

    Final Thoughts

    Can people change? Hopefully, by now, you believe that they can. If you have a sense of commitment and persistence, change is possible with any life experience.

    Start small, create specific goals, and don’t wait to get started. You’ll be amazed how far change will take you.

    More on How to Make Changes in Your Life

    Featured photo credit: Jurica Koletić via unsplash.com

    Reference

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