Rational Decisions Vs Intuitive Decisions

I think one of the key challenges that many people seem to face in life is decision making. More often than not, people tend to procrastinate on making decisions. This is for fear of making the wrong decisions.

Well, the reality is, wrong decisions are not all that wrong if you see it from a bigger picture. Through the process, one gains and learns a lot out of it and so in truth it was never a wrong decision, to begin with, well maybe inappropriate at that point in time. But not wrong because one gained so much learning in return.

I believe that great leaders are chosen to be leaders for their ability to make difficult decisions. Decisions that no one wants to make. It is quite a weight to bear if one has to make a decision for one’s family, or for one’s company or one’s country. As with any decision made, there will be some unhappy people for it is impossible to please everyone all of the time. I also believe that the best decisions are those based on rational thinking and intuition, where one is able to see the pros and cons and being mentally prepared should challenge arise from the decision as well as getting a sense of what the outcome may be.

You may ask then, why don’t we just make our decisions based on intuition. I think intuition is a good thing. But not every decision should be based on intuition. One doesn’t need to rely on intuition to make this decision: what should I wear today? It is not rocket science but still, many women struggle with this daily! Why? I think it is one’s emotional impulses that are getting in the way here.

If one is entering into unknown territory, an area where there was no history, no one to learn from, then one will have to greatly depend on one’s intuition. I believe Singapore was made this way. Singapore went against all rational thought to become independent from Malaysia. Singapore had nothing. But I believe the leaders relied largely on their intuition, together with plans, foresight and their belief in themselves to be able to create rags to riches story. So in many ways, you could say that it was a decision based on intuition combined with a well thought out process, although it was out of desperation.

If one has to make a decision on whether to sell one’s home and to buy another, one can make an informed rational decision quite easily. But one’s emotional attachment to one’s home may make the decision difficult and this is something that many people struggle with – the emotional attachment. And often times people confuse their emotional attachment with their intuition!

The use of intuition to make decisions should not be ‘abused’ in the sense of waiting for an answer from one’s intuition before one makes a move. I think that is abdicating one’s responsibility, and perhaps unconsciously telling ourselves that there is something to ‘blame’ if something goes wrong.

When my daughter was young, I found the daycare I would like to put her in. I started my decision-making process based on rational thinking. I received both negative and positive feedback about the day care from other people, so I thought about the pros and cons to come to a conclusion AND I also intuited that my daughter will enjoy the new environment for what it provides. So the final decision was made.

What I learned is that a good decision is often based on rational thinking, and not allowing one’s emotional impulses to get in the way. And then one should also use one’s intuition if possible to get a sense of the decision. If you can’t intuit, then use your rational thinking, it will take you further along than an emotional impulse.


Some keys to Balancing Rational & Intuitive Decision Making Process

  • list the pros and cons to see things clearly
  • don’t give power away to emotional attachments and emotional impulses
  • use intuition wisely
  • don’t confuse emotional impulses with intuition, they are not the same!
  • if you are not sure of your intuition, go with your rational thinking because you will learn something through the process

© 2010, 2017 Shamala Tan