I’m a big advocate of marrying intuition with logical thinking when it comes to decision-making, which is why I would never recommend anyone to rely on their intuition or their logic alone to make the right decision.
In my view, both logic and intuition are needed to make good, fulfilling decisions.
Typically, when it comes to making decision-making, people fall somewhere on the scale between rational and intuitive.
Although being on either end of the scale isn’t necessarily wrong, when it comes to chasing fulfillment, being somewhere in the middle is crucial.
In this blog post, I’m going to explain why.
Why you shouldn’t rely solely on intuition in decision-making
Intuition is a rather elusive thing which is why logic-oriented folks have such a hard time accepting it as a legitimate source of information.
Whether you call it intuition, gut feeling, just “knowing”, inner compass or something else altogether, at the end of the day, it’s primarily a kind of feeling.
While feelings can come and go, intuition is stable in comparison.
Once you get an intuitive hit, it’s not likely to change even when new information comes to light.
In fact, I’ve noticed that my intuition only grows stronger and louder depending on whether I’m going against it or going along with it.
I’ve yet to see my intuition change its mind. Because it’s proven to be so stable, I’ve grown to trust it over the years.
That said, relying solely on intuition does not make life a smooth ride.
Something can feel very right but when the circumstances in your life are not ripe for change, you risk making things much harder for yourself in the near to short-term when you don’t have your ducks in a row.
I’ve seen this happen when people pine for a place because it feels so much better to be there or pine to leave the country/city/town they currently live in because it no longer feels right.
Rather than then think through how they could set themselves up in that new place over a period of time, they up and leave immediately instead.
Of course, if you like the adrenaline rush of trying to figure things out on the fly, more power to you.
But if you want to make sure that you’ve got income, housing and other life stuff in place, you need your logical side of the brain to help you out with that.
Why you shouldn’t rely solely on logic in decision-making
For a long time, being rational and relying solely on logic was touted by scientists as the preferred way to make decisions. Mainly because logic allows for the use of reliable methods and analytics to evaluate options, something that intuition doesn’t care about.
Although times have since changed, for some people, intuition still has no place in decision-making. I’ve noticed that this tends to go hand in hand with having a background in hard sciences.
However, the beauty of a logical approach to decision-making is that you have a set of steps or a framework to follow.
This often provides people with a sense of security and safety in an otherwise uncertain situation.
I love clear steps to follow or creating a plan of action to reduce any overwhelm. Being rational, logical and strategic absolutely has a place in my world.
My Clarity Workbook is a perfect example of that (although in it I consistently call people to check in with their intuition throughout the process).
But when it comes to something like making the right decision that is supposed to make you feel fulfilled and happy, the logical side of our brain *alone* can really miss the mark.
When we rely solely on our logical side of the brain in deciding where you should move to feel fulfilled, we can very easily slip into chasing things that we’re supposed to want but deep down we really don’t.
Things like thinking you should settle down because you think you’re too old to (still) be an expat.
Thinking you should follow a certain career path or take a certain job because it pays well but it doesn’t actually make you excited to go to work.
Or doing just about anything because others are doing it, thereby completely ignoring what your intuition is calling you to do (even if it doesn’t make logical sense).
How to marry both intuition and logic to make the right decision
I’ve made decisions that have led to unnecessary struggles (to the extent that was in my control to prevent) whenever I relied solely on either intuition or logic.
But whenever I’ve taken my time to marry the two, I’ve been able to manage the uncertainty of change, be strategic as well as honor my intuition all at the same time. That’s when I feel I’ve truly made the right decision for myself.
When I decided to give repatriation a chance two years ago, I didn’t know whether and how things were going to work out.
But I felt a strong urge to try it out (relying on my intuition).
So I committed to 3 months of experimenting in Estonia and taking every possible action during that time to see whether I could set up a fulfilling life there. This was a strategy and plan of action that I had cooked up relying on my logical side.
However, getting to that step to begin with meant that I had to have figured out what were the ingredients for a fulfilling life for me. Otherwise, what was I going to be testing out during those 3 months?
With that in mind, in the months leading up to my departure, I had created a framework for myself to discover my needs (drawing from my logical side) and spent time feeling my way through this process of self-discovery (drawing from my intuitive side).
In doing so, I was able to separate what I genuinely wanted and what excited me from the things I thought I was supposed to want. So, again, relying on both my intuition and my logic.
While this approach certainly asks for the luxury of time to be able to work out the ins and outs of my inner world, the more you get to know what intuitive hits feel like in your body and how the logical side of you differs from it, the quicker you’ll be able to make a decision where there’s a balance between logic and intuition in your world.
Of course, not all decisions are made equal so some decisions can make you want to process things for a long while, while other decisions can come quite easily.
But cultivating a strong relationship with both your intuition and rationality is a step in the right direction until the right answer is ready to reveal itself to you.
Where on the scale of intuitive <> rational do you typically land when it comes to making decisions? Let me know in the comments below.
If you’re struggling to identify what you want and you would like a neutral sounding board to help you make the right decision, check out my coaching offers here. Let’s unpack together what’s keeping you stuck.
Katherine is a retired world traveller and former serial expat of 15 years. Based on her professional and personal experience as well as PhD research, she now helps expats, travellers and location independents decide whether to stay or go, whether to move back home or where to settle down.