The Best Way to the Wrong Choice

I always pay attention to my first impressions. I don’t always follow them, but when I don’t, I typically come to regret it. While I’ve been advised to come up with lists of pros and cons before making decisions, I find that doing so causes me to go back and forth and think about something so much that my mind goes into a sort of overdrive and I end up doing nothing.

Now it seems that science is starting to question the value of those lists when it comes to decision-making. According to researchers with Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management, when decisions are simple, making lists and thinking it through may be the best way to choose a course of action because there isn’t that much to consider. But when decisions are complex, your rational mind can’t take in as much information as your intuitive mind can, putting your logical mind at a disadvantage.

Even more interesting, the researchers say your list-making can actually lead you to make the WRONG decision. You may consider certain bits of information to be more important than others leading to faulty reasoning and bad choices.

Intuitive Action Item: While you may not be ready to throw away your lists completely (I still go back and forth on that), check in with your gut and put your first impression in either the Pro or Con column. In time, you’ll see if your first instinct was right, making it a low-risk way to test whether your gut is in fact leading you in the right direction.

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