Gut feelings can be complicated. Following your intuition often leads you toward successful outcomes. However, sometimes listening to your gut can land you in a bit of trouble.
If your intuition is telling you something, you shouldn’t ignore it, but you also shouldn’t blindly follow it — especially when you’re facing a decision that could have long-term implications, such as a job change or business plan.
So what should you ask yourself before you decide whether your instincts are noticing something beneath the surface — or about to lead you astray? Here’s what members of Young Entrepreneur Council suggest:
1. Does It Simplify Or Complicate Things?
When it’s hard to explain the cool ideas in your head, think twice before acting. If it’s hard to explain to your team, it will be hard to explain to your customers. If it’s hard to explain to customers, you’ll end up losing sales from those who don’t know what to buy or how to use it. Keep it simple so you won’t regret your choices later.
2. What Would The Outcome Be If I Follow My Gut?
When under pressure to make a decision, we often need to follow our intuition. However, it is crucial that we don’t take our gut feelings at face value. Instead, we should use our intuition as an important data point. Then, we need to evaluate it consciously and determine if it makes sense in the given context. Devising strategies to help rule out undesired elements should be part of the process.
3. Will I Still Be ‘In The Game’ If I Fail?
Listening to your gut is great, but you have to ask yourself: Does the worst case scenario allow you to come out of it with a valuable lesson and give you the opportunity to try again, or does it completely take you out of the game? For example, listening to your gut before asking someone on a date is great, but listening to your gut and deciding to sell everything to buy bitcoin, not so much.
4. Is There Data To Support Your Instinct?
Trusting your gut can be a valuable tool but it should not be the only tool you rely on. Continue to do your diligence and research the matter. If you discover quantifiable data that conflicts with your gut, take pause and re-evaluate. Keep in mind, factual data can help but it is not the only thing to consider. If you are comfortable using your gut, continue to do so, but don’t rely on it blindly.
5. Do I Still Feel This Way After 24 Hours?
Although a hot idea or business strategy usually won’t be so hot after waiting for a long period of time, it’s a good idea to give your gut instinct at least one day before making a concrete decision. If you still feel the urge to act in the same way after taking a bit more time to consider it, then you’ll be much more confident about your decision.
6. How Passionate Am I About This Decision?
Intuition is a human trait based on our instincts that was genetically coded within our DNA. For every “gut feeling” I get, it’s typically a 50-50 chance whether I’m right or wrong. Throughout the years, I came to realize an effective way to make my final decision: base it on how passionate I am in the side of the decision I make. As long as you’re passionate about it, you’ll thrive.
7. What Do My Peers Think?
Before you listen to your gut, get feedback. Getting feedback from others will help you determine if it’s a good idea to listen to your gut or not, and it will help you see things from another perspective. So ask your friends, family, co-workers and business partners what their thoughts are. Ask if they have any advice on whether your gut instinct is worth pursuing.
– John Turner, SeedProd LLC
8. What Can I Learn By Taking A Step Back?
Taking a step back from the issue at hand and giving yourself some space to evaluate all the possibilities can give you a clear vision on what you’re looking at. Meditation gives me the ability to reduce my stress which can lead to less effective decisions. Even 10 or 15 minutes can make a difference in my clarity.
9. Is This Intuition Or Fear?
When deciding whether to listen to your gut, make sure you’re distinguishing fear from intuition. How do you know the difference? First, fear is highly emotional, dark and heavy. In contrast, intuition is more emotionally neutral and calm. Try making a list of things that you scare you about this decision. If your list is fear-based, consider getting a second opinion. If not, go with your gut.
10. Can I Build A Case For This Decision?
One thing to consider when following your intuition is understanding whether you are able to build a case for the current situation. Are the facts present? If not, what else can you do to ensure you have everything in place to make the right decision? Sometimes I have gone with gut and it fell into the assumption category. This is why I make a case first before following my gut.
11. Does Logic Agree With My Gut?
Going with your gut is championed for a reason: Your gut picks up on all kinds of things your brain consciously misses. But checking in with logic and reason can help ensure that you don’t read a situation with passion, but miss a giant logic cliff. No need to throw intuition out, but it’s worth a double check.
12. Is This Gut Instinct Attached To My Ego?
Listening to your gut is one of the most valuable assets when directed correctly. One of the ways that I have found intuition to be helpful is when it is completely detached from the ego. If I have a very strong reaction, whether positive or negative, I take a moment to center myself and gauge where exactly the reaction is based. Ego can be very strong and confused with intuition.
13. Am I Basing This Decision On Experience Or Emotion?
It’s important to differentiate between an emotional decision and one that’s considered a “gut instinct,” but backed up with real-world data or life experience. A good gut decision can be trusted if you’ve experienced yourself in similar situation many times before and have an idea on how it will play out. A bad gut decision might be an emotional one, such as one that’s based on fear or greed.