Over the course of my life, I’ve come to believe that the best decision maker is your gut/natural instinct. How many times have you disregarded your gut instinct on a decision, only to regret it later? I’ve done this more times than I care to admit. For many years now, I’ve been obsessed with finding a way to make gut decisions at will. I believe I’ve found a way to do it with the “Gun-To-Head” test.
The idea of trusting the gut-check has been discussed in Malcolm Gladwell’s Blink as well as on my site. It may appear that I’m completely discounting intellect, research, heart and emotions in the decision making process, but I’m doing quite the opposite. They’re just being focused, in all their infinite wisdom, to make a decision. It’s called the “Gun-To-Head” test because it forces you to make a snap decision, as if a gun were placed to your head.
Without further ado, here it is:
1. Write down, on a piece of paper, the question or problem in a simple “yes or no” format.
Using paper is key here. For whatever reason, doing this on a computer never worked for me. There’s something about writing things down that resonates with people. If the problem is complex (aren’t they all?), distill it down to it’s actionable essence so it can be answered with a simple yes or no. Asking “Do I love my significant other?”, is just the baby question of “Should I end my relationship?”
2. Write “Yes or No” Below the Question (Duh).
3. Leave this piece of paper with a pen nearby, on your dining table or secured to your fridge.
It’s no coincidence that both places are in the kitchen. When you’re going to the kitchen, you’re usually just thinking about getting some food. This is key. You have to trick your mind into not focusing on the question to get the most objective answer possible. It can be somewhere else you frequent as well, I just prefer the kitchen.
4. Go do something else that will distract you from this question for 1-2 hours.
Taking a walk, where all you’re going to do is think about the question, is not what I’m talking about. You need to do something that’ll take your mind completely off this topic for at least a little while.
5. Whenever you encounter the piece of paper next, grab your pen and close your eyes.
If you spent your whole time away obsessing over it, don’t bother. Your gut isn’t primed to give an objective answer.
6. Open your eyes and, without hesitation, circle yes or no.
Whatever you choose is your gut’s answer. Yes, it might be painful and hurtful and scary, but that’s clearly what your whole body is telling you to do. Don’t rationalise. Just do it. If you’re anything like me, you’ll look back and realise you made the right choice, however hard or difficult it was.
If you hesitated when choosing, scrap it and start over another day. But next time, change the words around so it’s not quite the same question. If it’s exactly the same, your mind does a weird thing and goes right to the answer you gave before.
That’s it — that’s the Gun-To-Head test. Happy Decision Making!
Use the “Gun-To-Head” Test to Make Better Decisions [Dorian Innes]