Human beings love to think of themselves as logical, rational, aware beings. The ability to obey traffic laws, vote in elections for leaders, and many other social constructs support the logical, rational behavior of our race. So how come logic doesn't play a big part in important decisions in our lives?
When I'm making a big decision, I felt I was as logical as the next person. I discuss the matter with peers to generate outside opinions. I research data on the internet. And last but not least, I make the beloved t-chart.
The t-chart is a pro and con list. You make a small case t on a piece of paper. On the top left of the t, you write "Pros". On the top right of the t, you write "Cons". Then you list the pros and cons of your particular big decision. I have merrily made many t charts in my past for all sorts of important personal and financial decisions.
What I've discovered is the t-chart didn't mean a damn thing. No matter how the pro and con list stacked up, on any major decision I could feel what I wanted to do regardless of what my analysis told me. If the t-chart matched my feelings, I felt emboldened to immediately and assertively make the decision. If the t-chart did not match my feelings, I hemmed and hawed and still ended up going with my gut.
A few examples-
- I was in Orlando Florida trading nasdaq securities making great money in my mid 20s. After a little over a year, I found out my firm had a few shady business practices. I made a number of t-charts that all seemed to favor staying at the job. But I couldn't shake the nagging feeling in my gut over working for shadiness, so I quit.
- Relocating to Chicago I got taken on numerous real estate tours in 2003. I was shown tons of spreadsheets of how I could get an interest-only loan, by a huge pad, and then refinance with no worries due to the 20% appreciation of the market. Reading this now it is easy to say that of course its not a good deal, but back then everyone was buying and all logic said to buy. But my feelings were that the market could not possibly keep up so I stayed renting.
- I would always loudly and vociferously argue that you had to live with a girl for at least a year to know if it was right to marry her. I got engaged 7 months after meeting my fiancee, and 4 months before she moved in.
I've tried to listen more and more to my feelings rather than just the surface facts. It's my internal communication that I try to build up through daily meditation. I feel the best decisions are when your instincts and gut are telling you loudly and clearly what you should do.