When it comes to planning, the traditional reasoning argued that you have to be rational in order to achieve your goals.
So, even people who had a natural inclination towards an intuitive approach had to force themselves to be rational, no matter what. But the truth is both approaches have their merits.
Let’s start by seeing what each of these approaches presupposes. A person who tends to be rational will always consider their options when making a decision. They will evaluate these options, and choose the one which is the most logical. So far, this all makes sense and sounds like the smartest way go about reaching your goals.
Rational thinkers also try to stay as objective as possible. They don’t let their emotions cloud their judgment, but, rather, they try to take a step back and look at the situation as an impartial observer. In some cases, this can be a very useful skill, especially when becoming emotionally involved may actually hurt you. People who tend to be rational avoid making rash decisions. This makes them very reliable when it comes to long-term plans, but not very efficient in situations when snap decisions are required.
By contrast, people who rely on their intuition to make important decisions might seem reckless. They change their minds, apparently at random, because ‘they have a feeling.’ And that makes them look unreliable.
So when it comes to reaching long-term goals, it seems fair to assume that rational thinkers are going to find it easier to accomplish what they set out to do, because they are more careful when they sketch out their plans, and they’re more likely to stick to it.
But, to a certain extent, everyone uses their intuition, no matter how rational they think they are. That gut-feeling that is the hallmark of intuition is actually your brain telling you that you’ve been through a similar experience before, and the feelings you’re having are pointing towards the outcome of the past experience. You’ve probably felt this, even if you consider yourself a rational person. Even when you’re weighing the merits of a particular solution over another, you’re probably already leaning towards one of them.
People who work intuitively just go with that feeling. That makes them solve tasks much faster. And in a way, people who follow their intuition are more honest about their problem-solving methods. There is always some degree of intuition involved in any decision.
To Be or Not To Be Rational?
A rational person might only be tricking themselves into believing that their decision is objective, and based on accurate calculations. This can blind them to their own biases. By contrast, because people who rely on their instincts (or, rather, who admit this) can be much more of aware of their preferences and general tendencies, and they can adjust their plans accordingly.
Everyone has the gift of intuition, to a greater or lesser degree. Anyone can learn how to use the power of intuitive decision making. As we’ve already mentioned, to a certain extent, everyone does. Taking control of the process can maximize your intuition’s potential.
In recent years, there have been some scientific studies that prove just that: it is sometimes better to rely on your intuition when making important decisions.The study argued that there are certain situations in which a logical approach just doesn’t work, because there so many variables and unknown factors, there’s not a lot you can analyze rationally.
But that’s not to say that intuition is completely unrelated to rational thought and knowledge. When information is scant, intuition relies on previous knowledge to formulate a possible solution. It does this so fast, it feels as if there is no deliberate thought behind it. But in reality, intuitions stem from a long process of rationalization that has become second nature and works without the person being aware of it.
Intuition evolved out of the primitive man’s need to find quick solutions and to be able to predict dangers, even before they happened. This was certainly very useful when the only option to avoid being mauled by a bear was to outrun it. Primitive man developed a keen sense of awareness of their surroundings, so they could recognize the different sounds, and smells of a bear, as compared to something like a deer. And they had to do this fast because they didn’t have the luxury to think about all the possible outcomes, and what the best course of action could be.
So when it comes to goals, intuition can help you spot patterns that your conscious mind might not. And when it comes to achieving your goals, most advice focuses on how you have to find the solution that works for you. Rational thinking may present you with the ultimate best alternative, but when it comes to applying it, you still have to adapt it to your own work style. If the logical, rational process doesn’t come naturally to you, forcing yourself to apply might actually make you more inefficient.
And intuitive people also find it easier to develop their empathy skills. Because they are so quick to perceive the hidden truth in every situation, they can also perceive a person’s true feelings, no matter how hard they to hide it. Since rarely can one achieve success without connecting with the people around them, empathy, coupled a with a keen intuition, can actually prove to be much more useful in the long run, rather than rational thinking. And highly empathic people make for better entrepreneurs.
So, don’t try to always be rational. When you’re considering the best approach to your long-term goals, you shouldn’t dismiss the power of intuitive thinking. There are some surprising benefits to following your instincts. Ultimately, the only right solution is the one that’s right for you.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Amanda Wilks is a Boston University graduate and a Contributing Editor at Job Application Center. She has a great interest in everything related to career-building, personal branding, and entrepreneurship and loves helping people reach their true potential.
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