Gut Instincts

If I wrote a book on how to make decisions, it would be one sentence long, not enough words from which to make money. The title would be the same as the first line of Chapter 1: Your Gut Instinct: follow it.

I have never gotten into trouble when deciding with my gut; however, whenever I try to analyze or think too hard about a situation—it almost never turns out well. I don’t know why this happens. Gerd Gigerenzer, author of Gut Feelings: The Intelligence of the Unconscious, and the inspiration and main resource for Malcolm Gladwell’s, Blink, explains the science behind quick decision-making. Gigerenzer states that our unconscious decides for us, without the laws of logic or reason. We know what we need to do without thinking about it.

Unfortunately, I typically go against my gut instinct, and usually end up suffering, needlessly. Why do I do this, if I know what the result in not trusting my instinct will do? Why do I not trust myself? Do any of you have this problem? I hope I’m not the only one.

So the reason, and what prompted me to write about this, is because I find myself at a crossroad. My gut tells me one thing, and of course, my mind tells me the opposite. Yeah, I know what you’re thinking: She just said, “Go with your gut.” Oh, but I wish it were that easy. I have all these thoughts swimming in my head: what are the implications of this decision; what will the outcome be, positive or negative; I need to make my pros and cons list before deciding; I need to play out all the different scenarios before making a final decision, I should ask my friends what I should do, and so forth.

Last week, I needed to make a decision, my crossroad. The person I was consulting asked me, “Well, what do you think you should do?” In 3 seconds, the answer popped into my head—I knew it that fast! Although, rather than immediately settling on my instantaneous decision, I ran through different scenarios in my mind: what if I did this instead; what if I chose incorrectly; what would be the logical thing to do. These kinds of questions get me into trouble; they encourage me to mull over the decision forever! It’s not useful; it thwarts me–then nothing happens, no decision! The more I think, the more I worry, and the more I avoid making the decision that was there all along.

Instead of thinking and rehashing different scenarios, I need to remember that I already have all the answers already; I know my decision right from the get-go. I just have to follow my gut instinct.


3 thoughts on “Gut Instincts”

  1. While my gut instinct is usually right – sometimes I have been educated by others more knowledgeable about a particular issue.

    I have a PhD in procrastination because I may be concerned that I cannot do something – hence, some things in my life I never completed. Some things I never even started.

    This is a great article, Sarah.

    If I say anything about gut instinct – as Sarah indicates – follow it.

  2. Sarah, I too question endlessly when I know I have the answer right in front of me. I am doing this right now as I keep trying to find or create reasons to continue with a job that has served me so well but that I now cannot perform.
    Who will I become? What will our finances be? What can I do now? And the big question–do I simply attempt to get disability and stop trying to find a different job as the issues with my neck and hands are so limiting??

    I need to take your advice and go with my gut. Thanks.

  3. Well, Sarah, you are not the only one who has experienced difficulties in making quick decisions. Like you, I also feel like I have to tell my friends or a family member before making very important decisions. Living alone here in the US, however, has taught me to be more independent in this decision-making process. I still teld other people when I feel I need to, but I have become a little more confident. Anyway there’s still a lot of work to do.

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