Think, Solve Problems, And Make Smart Decisions By Developing Smart Habits

Posted by on Oct 11, 2020 in Decision Making, Problem Solving | 0 comments

Believe it or not, your mind is designed to think as little as possible!  There are many tasks we perform every day that require very little thinking on our part, such as, getting up and ready to leave the house, driving to and from work, slowing down at an intersection, making a left or right-hand turn, etc.  It’s like we’re on automatic pilot and free to think about other things on our minds.

Some people believe that our ability to think is tied to one’s intelligence as measured by IQ and is independent of your specific knowledge and doesn’t change much over the course of your life.  But researchers argue that intelligence isn’t one thing but is made up of many different things.  They suggest that IQ doesn’t measure the right forms of intelligence, but it is rather about the content of what you know and how you use it.

Let’s take the analogy of playing chess.  We typically think that people that play chess are very intelligent.  After all, there are literally thousands of moves that can be made.  Psychologists have studied how experts play the game.  It turns out that chess experts learn lots of sets of opening moves that often lead to advantageous board positions.  They learn to recognize patterns of pieces that suggest new moves to make and endgame groupings of pieces that signal when a game can be won by one side or the other.  This research shows that it is the content of what chess experts know rather than some abstract reasoning ability that affects the way they play.

Thinking smarter is like playing chess, not some kind of talent, but a skill that can be improved.  How you’ve thought in the past, solved problems, and made decisions is due in large part to the mental habits you’ve learned over the years.  Thinking smarter in the future will require developing new habits to complement the ones you already have and changing habits that are getting in the way.

It turns out that there is a formula for creating smart habits and it requires only two ingredients:  establishing an association between an action and the environment and performing that action repeatedly.  Let’s start with establishing an association.  Most people want to be successful in their careers.  One way to be successful is to think smarter, solve problems, and make good decisions.  It’s all about developing the skills that allow you to do that better than most of your peers.  Learning and developing mastery of these techniques is a skill that is well within the reach of most people.  The other part of the equation is performing the action repeatedly, that is, have a process for how problems are solved and decisions are made and using that process each and every time.


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