How we think

“People spend years working on a problem, asking, ‘Is this the right decision?’” And they rarely stop to consider if they should be working on it in the first place”. What they should be asking, “Is this a priority, is this really important and worthwhile?”  ~ Dr. Lynn on the importance of knowing your values 

I’ve been thinking about how we think. Not unusual for a psychologist to do that of course. For years, the four-part model of how to approach thinking was my go to tool. The four parts rested on making decisions based on the four Jungian functions. First you gather the facts (Sensing), then you brainstorm creative solutions (Intuition), then you critically evaluate the logic of the alternatives (Thinking), and finally, you consider the fairness of the options (Feeling).

“What do you think of when you see this?”

Look around and think about the people you know and admire. Ask yourself what it is about them that makes them great role models? Chances are, each and every one of them has lived by a clear set of values. Not just inspirational values, but beliefs they lived by, beliefs that shaped their character and was reflected in their daily behavior. Don’t overthink things and get trapped in analysis paralysis. If you have been stumped with a difficult decision you need to make, pause and ask yourself why it’s so important to you. Should it really be a priority? For example, I sometimes help clients with high level hiring decisions. Rather than focusing on the candidate’s skills, I ask about their values and the values of the company. Do they match? A lot of hiring problems result from not considering the values of the candidate and your firm.

Why is it important to know and be clear about what’s important to you? Much of the ambivalence and difficulty we have with decision making comes from this root cause of not first accessing your feelings. Access your feelings, your values. Start there before getting all rational and correct in your decision making. You will live a life on purpose, by going to your personal values first, then rationalizing what a great decision you made. There is a big difference between right thinking and thinking about the right things.