“I’m onto something”

We live in a cruel world. We are awash in information, and yet it never feels as if we have all the information we need to make those big life decisions. What perhaps makes this worse is that these decisions need to be made starting at a very early age.

Would those high-school subjects help me maximise my skills and talent? Will this college degree help me find the things I would love to do? Is that job really something I can spend all my waking hours caring about? Am I marrying a person who will be the soulmate I’ve always been looking for?

Choosing the “best” microwave for your home might be easier today than 20 years ago, but that decision wasn’t a very hard decision even then. The hard decisions remain hard because of an information asymmetry problem. You will always have far less information than you would like to make these decisions.

This is where our gut instincts help. It is not easy to explain why we get that tingling feeling of “I’m onto something”, when we get close to an answer we’ve been looking for, but that feeling is the best indicator that we have of being on the right path.

The trouble with gut instincts is that they feel too flimsy to base important decisions on. But the information asymmetry problem is never going away, and so it is perhaps better to hone our gut instincts through practice. You will fail but you will also learn and thus trust yourself more in this unpredictable world.

It is easy to keep postponing life’s big decisions in the hope that one day we may have all the information we need to find the answer. But if you’re sure you want an answer, just look for the “I’m onto something” feeling and take the dive.

Image by shinealight. CC-BY-SA.

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4 thoughts on ““I’m onto something””

  1. I’m reading Daniel Levitin’s – The organized mind: thinking straight in the age of information overload. I’m just about finishied reading the free sample on Kindle and am going to buy the book, if the price is right.

    A lot of what you are saying fits in with this objective narrative of where we’ve come, as an organism; trying to organise our brains and think our way along our ever more complex existence as one large mass of humans. Communication, what has it become and mean these days?

  2. So essentially we have to take a leap of faith as soon as we have that gut feeling. Are all decisions in life that urgent? When we want closure on something quickly we may adopt this style of deciding. But when we can delay these decisions without any adverse consequences, why not delay? An illustrative example of delaying decisions before they make eminent sense would be the scores of people who live in together before taking the marital vows, nowadays. As Bond replies to Q “It’s also about knowing when not to pull the trigger.”

    1. I didn’t mean to imply that you should take a leap of faith *as soon as* you have a gut feeling. Instead, I’m trying to address a scenario where people essentially delay decision citing (or feeling) that they don’t have enough to make an informed choice. I feel that it’s an easy excuse to keep delaying decisions, especially when the delays can hurt in the long run.

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