Estimated Lesson Time: 4 minutes
You find yourself in the fortunate situation of having two great job offers. The first job offer makes more sense financially, logistically, and you believe you will enjoy it more. However, something inside you is telling you that you should choose the second job offer. You cannot articulate why, you just somehow “know.” What do you do? If you tend to be more analytical, you find comfort in being able to justify your decisions with facts and figures; this, after all, is very reasonable. People don’t get fired for making justified decisions. However, sometimes you find yourself saying, “I should have gone with my gut feeling.”
This “gut feeling” we have, or intuition, is very often misunderstood. Intuition is defined as the act or faculty of knowing or sensing without the use of rational processes; immediate cognition. Where does our intuition come from? Some people believe it is a sign from a higher power, some believe it is a mystical “sixth-sense” we possess, and some people believe it is their own insecurities second guessing the most reasonable decisions. Cognitive science has come a long way in providing strong evidence that our intuitions are a reflection of the information in our unconscious or subconscious mind.
To explain intuition, let’s go back to a brief refresher on memory and the subconscious. Our minds are like sponges; constantly taking in information all around us. Most of this information is not processed by our conscious mind; it goes directly into our subconscious. When we are faced with a decision, our conscious mind presents us with the facts and figures, and our subconscious mind is also at work making the decision based on all its knowledge, which is generally more complete. However, remember this very important fact about the subconscious–it cannot reason. It interprets images, words, and feelings literally. This means, you cannot always trust your intuition because your gut feeling may be based on false information. It is up to you to determine if your gut feeling is a result of actual experiences and facts, or possibly a result of negative or false mental conditioning.
I grew up in a very entrepreneurial family. My father, mother, brother, and sister were all “independently employed.” Years of mental conditioning have resulted in my ability and desire to tolerate more risky financial situations. I don’t remember any specific conversations with my family members about risk, but I do know that my toleration of risk is a result of what I picked up at a subconscious level over the years. Most people will not admit when they were wrong about following their intuition–I am not one of those people. I made some poor financial decisions in the past just by “trusting my intuition” due to my cavalier views on risk at the time. Discovering this about myself has caused that overly optimistic “go for it” attitude towards financial risk to subside leading me to better decisions.
We all have a sense of intuition from time to time—some more often than others. We know that intuition is sensing something without rational processes. If intuition is a result of all of our past experiences and influences, both real and imagined, then by examining the source of the intuition, we will be in a better position to know when to trust our intuition and know when to ignore it. Think about what events, feelings, and circumstances in your past are causing these senses of intuition, decide if these are valid influences, then choose to trust your intuition or not. You will have increased your odds of making better decisions significantly.
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Some discussion questions (some may not apply to this lesson):
- Have you implemented this idea in your life? How has it been working for you?
- Do you have any interesting stories related to this lesson? Do tell!
- What do you admire most about this person? (success biography days)