Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Go with your gut

Our intuition is a funny thing. Always present, always rumbling and processing, but often disregarded in our preference of logic. Many things in life are, of course, best addressed with logic – you wouldn’t necessary want to pull the trigger on a luxury vehicle just because it makes you weak in the knees. But the further we go in life and the more rational judgment we’ve accumulated, the more reliable our intuition becomes and the more it behooves us to listen to it.

When searching for my current apartment, I had very specific metrics that I was using to sift through all the units on the market. First, I wanted to live within 10 blocks of where I work, so that I could get rid of my car and have a more urban lifestyle. Second, I had (have) a strict budget, and my portion of the monthly rent had to fit within that number. With those two metrics in mind, I went hunting. I visited about half a dozen apartments downtown, and they all seemed of about the same caliber to me. Many of them were “loft” style, with partial walls, no bedroom doors, and low-budget finishes (I said I didn’t care.) And while any of them would have worked, none of them struck me as “the one.” When I walked into the unit I now live in, I immediately felt differently. There was a an immediate warm fuzzy feeling about the building, the unit (despite the fact that the current tenant was sitting, inexplicably, in the kitchen while we walked through) and I knew I had to have it. Without even having roommates lined up, I put the entire deposit down for a three-bedroom apartment. I found the roommates by the time I moved in.

And you know what? I absolutely love my apartment. I come home every day feeling as though it’s “home,” and that’s something I never had with other apartments before it – including the one bedroom with more square footage, in sprawling hardwood, and granite countertops. Granite countertops, I now know, make me less happy than convenient location.

One study asked participants to choose a poster. The first group was asked to choose the first one they initially liked. The second group was asked to analyze their decision before choosing. Weeks later, the first group reported more satisfaction with their choices.

Now, not all decisions can be made this way. Especially when we’re young, we simply don’t have the foundation on which to base these sort of things. (“How am I supposed to know which poster/car/lawn mower/pair of professional shoes I should pick?! I’ve never done this before!”) So you do it with some analysis and research the first few times, especially if you’re not tugged in any one direction. But at some point, when you get that reactionary surge of unarticulated-but-significant feelings, you listen to them.

They’re often trying to tell you something that you don’t know you know.

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