Are Your Decisions Based On Instinct Or Gut Feel?

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Are Your Decisions Based On Instinct Or Gut Feel?

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Have you ever asked your family what they would like to eat for dinner and no one can decide? We make a lot of decisions every day, but sometimes we have to consult something inside ourselves to feel like we’re making the best choice. Do you believe that those decisions are based on instinct or are they more of a gut feel?

Instinct Decisions

We’ve all faced tough choices and sometimes we just don’t know who to ask in order to gain additional insight. Sometimes we ask others who we know will most likely answer one way or another, and we do that to improve our confidence or to feel better about a tough choice. In other situations we might avoid asking someone we know because we believe they will give an answer that deep inside we really don’t want to hear.

Have you ever asked someone, “What does your gut tell you?”


Instinct, as being referenced here and perhaps by formal definition is connecting your thoughts to what comes natural or feels natural with some specific direction for a choice. It can be illustrated by considering something simple, for example, when you feel hungry you might make a choice to eat. Another example could be when you hear (hearing is instinctual) someone speaking you make a choice to listen, or not.

Gut Feel

Gut feel is different because it might suggest that there are other factors involved in making the decision or choice. Sometimes these factors are conditioned by emotions and because we have feelings connected with those factors we label that decision as coming from having a gut feel. Some people may associate the concept of gut feel to the idea of following your head, or your heart.

Business Case

Imagine you’re at your job and you’re confronted with a tough choice. You may have ethical concerns, integrity complications, or you worry that the choice you make could in some way affect the future for yourself or the organization. Will you make the decision based on instinct or gut feel?  In business many believe that you should leave your emotions out of it. Business is business and there is not any room for emotional issues. However, much of the business that we do is strongly based on emotional choices. We do something because we believe in it, we have passion about it, and it makes us feel good. I see a lot of emotion connected with business and that doesn’t necessarily make it bad.

Critical Thinking

When we are facing tough choices it is often helpful for us to think more critically, analyze the data, deal with facts, and look for patterns. Some people like to expedite decisions while others prefer to drag them out, over analyze, or procrastinate. Sometimes if we ask what led to the final decision someone will say they used their instincts to guide the choice, or they did it by gut feel.

Decisions based on what we might label as instinct or gut feel are often very risky choices. People can sometimes develop strong beliefs based on perception or data that is not accurate. As people we collect more life experiences, some of them good, and some of them not so good. Over time we start to trend that data, based specifically on our own life experiences. Sometimes this data becomes associated with what might be labeled as instinct or gut feel.

What about you, how do you make tough choices?


See also: Boomer Decisions, Millennial Decisions

Dennis E. Gilbert is a business consultant, speaker (CSPTM), and coach that specializes in helping businesses and individuals accelerate their leadership, their team, and their success. He is the author of the newly released book, Forgotten Respect, Navigating A Multigenerational Workforce. Reach him through his website at or by calling +1 646.546.5553.

Dennis Gilbert on Google+

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November 2, 2016at 9:03 am

Great essay! Thank You!

How do I make tough choices? I go within. I tap into the Power that created me and let the choice be made there.

I let go and let Life handle the details.

Stopped using reason. Never worked for me.

How about you? What do you do?

    Dennis Gilbert

    November 2, 2016at 4:07 pm

    Decisions always seem to be the right one at the moment you make them, after that sometimes things change. The way I make decisions is always situational, what or how I decide on dinner is much different from deciding on a marketing strategy. I felt this post might have value by helping anyone reading it to consider thinking differently about how they approach some decisions. People sometimes make wrong choices because they weigh too heavily on their past experiences (instead of other logical data) which are sometimes deeply rooted in self-limiting beliefs.


      November 2, 2016at 6:26 pm

      Any thoughts on Intuition?

        Dennis Gilbert

        November 3, 2016at 10:30 am

        Great question, intuition is a fabulous subject and I think there may be a future post for that!! Thank you!

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