Do you struggle with making decisions? And I’m not just talking about what to make for dinner. I’m talking about the choices that change your life – your choice in dinner could do this, but I’ll leave this one for my nutritionist friends.
I don’t know about you, but I can change my mind multiple times a day, feel so aligned one hour, and drown in self-doubt the next. But no wonder. Wr have everything at the swipe of our fingertips. You would think this would make the process easier, but it doesn’t. More choices more problems.
Here’s when knowing how to use your intuition comes in. And no, listening to your gut instinct isn’t a mystical myth, it’s primal and backed by science. It is by far the best way to make decisions that come from a place of alignment with your inner purpose rather than from fear and anxiety. While your mind is busy rationalising, your body knows the right path. You just have to learn how to listen to it.
How Does Intuitive Decision-Making Work?
According to psychologists, intuition dwells in the subconscious part of your mind that constantly sifts through your past experiences, patterns, and cumulative knowledge at a rapid speed.
Your gut also has a large part to play – it’s actually so important that scientists call it the “second brain.” With around 100 million neurons, your gut influences your mood and signals to you when your body can feel something is off.
That pit in your stomach at a business meeting? That’s your gut communicating vital information to you. When you hone your intuitive decision-making skills, you learn to listen to that gut feeling and reflect upon your options more thoroughly.
Based on research, using your intuition effectively can actually boost accuracy, confidence, and response times in decision-making tasks. Another study has found that those who commit to cultivating their intuition make more successful decisions based on their gut feeling.
And here’s the best news – knowing how to use your intuition is a skill that can be learned just like any other!
How to Step into Your Body
“Does it feel like a good decision, process or approach? Our bodies carry a great deal of intel and often we ignore this data,” said leadership coach, Michele Davenport, to Forbes.
An essential part of intuitive decision-making lies in peacefully acknowledging your emotions and stepping into your body. Too often, we only rely on the rational part of ourselves – and while you shouldn’t ignore your reason, your feelings deserve to be heard, too.
Emotions are physical experiences. Each feeling triggers a physiological reaction that can be observed, which can in turn help you listen to your inner guidance and make a decision aligned with your core values.
Here are three steps to help you listen to your intuition.
Calm Down Your Nervous System
You’re facing an important decision. You feel anxious, stressed, or even angry. The least helpful thing you can do right now is to act.
Negative emotions like anger have been shown to impact the quality of strategic decisions, and what’s more, your mind is so ablaze that your intuition might get completely lost in the fire.
Instead, take a step back. Meditate, practice yoga, or focus on something that calms you for a few hours. When you’re relaxed, your mind will gain clarity.
And that’s when you should properly listen to your body. How does this situation make you feel? Are you excited or anxious? Observe what your body is telling you and take it into consideration.
More Curiosity, Less Judgement
In order to make the best decision for your business and yourself, practice self-compassion. It’s okay not to know the right path straight away. It’s okay to wander in the dark for a while. And it’s okay to feel whatever it is you’re feeling.
As you’re surveying the sensations in your body and letting your emotions flow through, don’t be your own judge. Be a curious friend instead. Approach your body and mind from a place of love. To quote author and motivational speaker Gabrielle Bernstein:
“The ego is impatient. It wants an answer right away. In contrast, the voice of love, your intuition, is much more relaxed, receptive and released around time.”
Ego judges. Intuition listens.
Accept Uncertainty and Act Despite Fear
Brene Brown, author and research professor, has said it best:
“Intuition is not a single way of knowing – it’s our ability to hold space for uncertainty and our willingness to trust the many ways we’ve developed knowledge and insight, including instinct, experience, faith and reason.”
Listening to your gut feeling means accepting there might not be only one right path. It means processing your fear, stepping into your body, and moving forward even though you’re scared.
After all, bravery doesn’t lie in the absence of fear. It lies in feeling afraid and taking action anyway.
3 Exercises to Use Your Intuition in Business
Looking for more practical ways of listening to your gut feeling as a busy business owner?
Here are three exercises that can help you make effective intuitive decisions:
Visualization & Body Scan
How to apply:
- Lie down and focus on your breathing.
- Start imagining a scenario where you’ve made decision A.
- Pay attention to how your body feels. Do you feel heavy or light? Uncomfortable or excited?
- Repeat the exercise with a scenario where you’ve made decision B.
Imagining something has been shown to light up similar parts of the brain as experiencing, so visualization can give you quite a good hunch on how your body responds to each decision.
The Snap Decision Test
How to apply:
- On a piece of paper, write down a question you can give a simple YES or NO answer to. Jot down YES and NO below the question.
- Set aside and distract yourself with a different activity for a few hours. Do not think over your decision.
- Come back to the piece of paper and close your eyes. Take a deep breath.
- Open your eyes and quickly circle YES or NO.
The 24-Hour Break
How to apply:
- Give yourself at least 24 hours to make each important business decision.
- In that time, focus on calming down your nervous system, tuning into your body, and letting go of your limiting beliefs.
- After 24 hours, come back with a fresh mind.
Delaying the final decision by even one day can be a powerful tool, especially if you feel anxious and stressed before you take the break.
While reason and logic have their part to play in every business owner’s life, it’s that niggling gut feeling, that inner compass that will never let you stray.
There will always be times when logic feels safer to triumph, but we weren’t born to play it safe. Sometimes the risker choices where your gut instinct pulls is the one that will lead you down the most successfully aligned path of all.