“Ideas pull the trigger, but instinct loads the gun.”
– Don Marquis
Are you waiting for someone to tell you what to do? Are you unsure as to who will be guiding you when you feel lost? Do you often wait for someone to take the initiative before venturing out? Are you still reading this post? Good! I am going to enlighten you on something that we are seriously forgetting to implement daily in our life. Our intuition. Yes, call it gut feeling, instincts, sixth sense or whatnot, but the truth is we rely on others to help shape OUR future, rather than trusting our decisions. We tend to have less faith in the choices that we make and the things that we stand by. We get easily manipulated by someone’s views on how we should actually live our life.
Indecision among students
Quite often there are a significant amount of students who are seemingly clueless about what to do after graduation. They swing to and fro between taking up further studies or joining a corporate job. Well, for starters you should pursue that which you are confident in and arrive at a decision based on your career goals, capabilities and interests. Don’t take up something just because your roommate is doing so or someone at home got enlightened from some vague source. It’s your career, you decision. Follow your instincts, understand yourself better and shape your future accordingly.
Here’s one such example I can relate from my life – There is this friend of mine who’s struggling with the decision of whether to do M.Tech or an MBA degree after graduation. For starters, he had to do B.Tech because his parents wanted him to. Now when he’s graduated, they tell him that a simple B.Tech degree won’t help much, adding an M.Tech degree to his profile will help bolster his chances of landing a better job. What his parents didn’t realise was that this guy wasn’t into the specialisation he had taken up in college. He wants to get into an MBA college because he feels his calling is with businesses and not in the technical field. Now I’ve been in touch with him and we’ve had lengthy discussions regarding this indecision. I am hoping he can clear out his mind and focus on what he actually wants to achieve down the line.
Overcome your fears
It is true we humans have been playing it safe since the days of the first homo sapiens. Early humans began life in jungles and stayed in their caves, weary of the lurking beasts outside and the unknown surroundings. The situation isn’t the same as before, we have evolved, we live in cities and are much safer than ever before from the natural threats of predators and harsh environment conditions. But we still stay locked up inside our very own safety nets, not wanting to venture beyond what we know, not wanting to wet our feet first. This must change! If we continue to be indecisive and have a constant fear of failure we’ll never get anywhere nor accomplish anything fruitful in life.
In order to achieve our goals and chalk a smooth career path it is essential that we fantasise less about the probable success from future achievements. By doing so we become unaware of the pitfalls and problems we are likely to face along the way, and this ends up demotivating us. The strategy is to not fall into a delirium where you dream constantly, but rather keep your aspirations clear and concrete. Live in the present, savouring each moment here and now. This is a much more practical way to shape your future rather than getting into an endless maze of lofty dreams and fantasies.
One major factor that hinders instinctive decision making is this contagious habit of procrastination that we do time and again. If it’s a hard task we feel less inclined to take it up right away and keep on postponing. Not that it helps anyway, but as humans we inherently try to do the easier tasks and make the easier choices quickly. This hurts us in the long run, because at the end of the day when the deadlines are closer we feel time constrained and that affects the quality of our work. It leads to unsatisfactory results and ends up becoming a demotivating factor.
The best way to fight this urge of postponing is to initiate the activity or the decision. By deciding to start we help our brains overcome the first hurdle. By and by, little chunks will get accomplished and we end up completing the task we’ve been dreading unnecessarily. In an article on the Lifehacker website they relate this to the cliffhangers that are utilised in the tv shows that we watch. By abruptly concluding an episode, they ensure that we specifically remember that ending and look forward to the upcoming episode in order to arrive at a valid conclusion. This fuels our brain because we are born inquisitive. By doing even a small chunk of a hard task, we overcome that inner fear. We realise that we may have wrongly perceived the activity to be hard, whereas with this approach you get it done significantly sooner and enjoy the entire process. The win-win situation is when you’ve had this realisation, because instead of waiting for someone to instruct or guide you or for someone to approach the problem beforehand, you mustered up the courage and relied on your decision making to tackle the task. That by far is the greatest step towards achieving your aspirations, and you don’t need me to tell you that.
The Urgent-Important Paradox
The root of the problem is within us. Once you learn to rely on your intuition, you can start scripting your life story and shape your future as grand as it can be. Yes, do listen to your peers and elders, take in their advice, but don’t hand over your life’s steering wheels to them. Time and again you’ll be stressed with making spontaneous decisions and instantaneous choices and we all know our brain’s gonna struggle a lot, giving us a never ending barrage of headaches. The best solution is to avoid doing smaller unrelated tasks just because they are easier to do. Try and tackle the harder bits of a task, because deep down you know that those are the crucial ones to be done beforehand. Avoid stressing out if short-terms goals don’t work out. try and rephrase them, try and visualise what you did wrong that made things not work out. Take time out of your day and give time to your thoughts.
Write down the things that need to be done urgently into one category and the less urgent ones into another. The late Stephen Covey explained the time management concept through his Urgent-Important Matrix. He divided tasks into 4 quadrants. The 1st quadrant had those activities that are of utmost necessity. The 2nd had those activities which needs careful planning and execution. The 3rd quadrant contained those activities that one should minimise doing as they eat up our time unknowingly. The final quadrant included those activities that are primarily a waste of time and those that add little value to our daily work. By categorising your activities in this way you have a clear plan for the entire day, and don’t end up scrolling endlessly through social media and those sugar-coated news bulletins. Do not leave anything to chance and do not leave your brain to make crucial decisions all on its own.
“The key is not to prioritize what’s on your schedule, but to schedule your priorities.” – Stephen R. Covey
Action steps to exercise your intuition more frequently: –
• Do not become completely dependant on a family member or friend.
• Learn to tackle the hard bits before doing the easier parts of an activity.
• Keep a Plan-B because life’s not perfect and not every scenario favourable.
• Dream and work towards that dream.
• Don’t day-dream and miss life’s important moments.
• Realise your abilities and build on them to shape your career.
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