Finding balance in a chaotic world

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December 2017
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Trust your Intuition

I’ve had a GPS giving me driving directions for years, before those stick on your dash units became affordable. It was a Compact Flash GPS that plugged into my PDA. I’ve used it on every trip I’ve been on since I got it and it has worked extremely well for me. It is so nice to know that someone is there telling me where to go. On occasion though, the GPS will tell me to turn one direction and I think that I should turn the other. When I decide to go with my gut, 75% of the time I’m wrong. When I trust the GPS, I’m typically right. So fast forward to a family trip to visit my Grandmother in Maine. We drove down from Maine back to Boston to catch our flight, the little GPS telling us where to go. Then we came upon a crossroads. The highway said to take a certain exit to get to Logan airport, but the GPS said to keep going straight. What to do?


Inside, my head said to take the exit, but thinking of how the GPS rarely lets me down, I fought it and followed the GPS. Soon we find ourselves in the middle of downtown Boston with the GPS trying to tell me make a 120 degree turn, only we don’t know which street to turn on because there are three possible streets to turn left in. We made a loop once and missed the turn again. Third time was the charm and we finally got back on track. A lesson was learned that day though.


I put my trust in the GPS because in the past it had been right. But when I thought about the times I decided to ignore the GPS and made a wrong turn, it was typically because the road wound around in a strange direction and following the GPS seemed to put us in the opposite direction that we wanted to go. Contrast that to the airport exit incident where we simply had conflicting information.


Often we are told to “go with our gut.” Our subconscious is able to process information in such a way that we make intuitive rather than rational decisions. Many studies have shown that often, these guess are correct. Still intuition is a tricky thing and blindly trusting it can lead you into places where you didn’t want to go. Of course blindly trusting a talking box on the dashboard of your car can equally take you to places you don’t want to go.


What is needed, surprise surprise, is balance. Let your intuition guide you, but apply rational realization to why you want to make a certain choice. I had to fight my urge not to take the exit in Boston. Everything in my being said it was the right choice, but I decided that the GPS hadn’t let me down before and I needed to blindly trust it. I ignored the rational realization that the city of Boston probably knew what they were doing when they put up that sign.


So the next time you are faced with a choice, go with your gut, but apply so rational thought as well. If the rational thought doesn’t invalidate your impulse, then embrace your intuition. That way you won’t end up in a nasty traffic jam in Boston when all you want to do is get on the plane.