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  1. #1
    i love skylights's Avatar
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    Default INTJ decision-making

    Dear INTJs,

    I'm curious about how you guys make decisions. I'm personally having a lot of problems myself with decision-making, especially recently, and in general, I feel a resonance with your type in terms of how you see things and weigh value, etc. - I suppose it's the N, Te, Fi overlap. Basically I would like to know how your brains work so you can illuminate us all to your decision-making secrets.

    When it comes to a big decision, what do you usually do?

  2. #2
    Analytical Dreamer Coriolis's Avatar
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    The first step I take, and perhaps the most important one, is to define the problem or choice as clearly, correctly, and completely as possible. Facts, logic, inspiration, etc. won't help if applied to the wrong question. I may think, for example, that the choice is whether to remain in a bad job or not. Upon reflection, I may see that the real issue is what I want to be doing at this stage of my career. It is only in this context that I can effectively evaluate the relative merits of my present job.

    Once the problem is clear, I then sweep away as many external constraints and influences as I can. I try to identify unspoken, even subconscious assumptions affecting my judgment, and set them aside unless they are necessary to the problem as stated. For instance, I may realize that I was assuming I must have a job, and broaden that assumption to include schooling since either can contribute to one's career. I try to imagine an ideal solution, unhindered by "reality" in any way.

    Once I can see this fairly clearly, I bring reality back, piece by piece. To continue with my example, I might ask such questions as: do I have the necessary qualifications for my ideal job/position? What similar opportunities are available now? What contacts do I have? Would I have to relocate? I will research the information needed to answer these and other questions, rather thoroughly if the decision is important. A critical part of this process is a cross-check with my other values and priorities. My ideal job may be available, but only somewhere I do not wish to live; or my current job, however bad, may provide a training opportunity I consider valuable. I will make lists and comparisons, and come up with what objectively seems to be the optimal solution.

    At this point, I usually step back from all the data and analysis and ask whether it makes sense in the big picture. For big decisions especially, there is almost always some associated risk. Few outcomes are certain. It may seem odd to say, but I place much weight on my gut feel here, so much so that when there is no time for a proper analysis, I have learned to rely on it. Fortunately it almost always agrees with the analysis, but when it doesn't, it has proven wise to go back and "check my answers". Usually there is something I have overlooked, like one of those unrecognized assumptions.

  3. #3
    Administrator highlander's Avatar
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    The trite answer would be:
    - first look at the big picture
    - then apply logic
    - then consider feelings
    - finally look at facts

    I think I rely heavily on gut feeling, intuition, or a general sense of direction on which way to go or not go - thinking about the big picture, the details, looking at things holistically. It's not really logical. That's tempered by a consideration of what's practical, addressing the most important thing (s), and is likely to achieve the best result. I'll frequently put myself in the shoes of others who are impacted by the decision but that is more of a conscious learned behavior.

    In making important decisions, I do tend to rely heavily on the input of others that I trust who have perspectives that I do not.

    As far as facts and evidence goes, it depends on the kind of decision it is. In some cases, it is perfectly reasonable to rely on the past as a predictor of the future. In other cases, facts are not really the most important thing at all.

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  4. #4
    Junior Member Amie's Avatar
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    One thing I do without always realizing it (until I have to explain my decision to someone or walk them through their own decision making process) is to figure the worst case scenario. I don't mean it in a depressing or negative way, but the worst case scenario is usually not that bad for any situation and that takes a lot of pressure off.

    From there I can rule out the bad options (ones in which the worst case scenario is likely or unacceptable) and I can reduce the number of options on the table. I think I group options together to reduce the number I'm dealing with as well. I kind of categorize them. Then when I have it down to one category I can open that group back up and repeat the process with the options that were contained there.

    I do incorporate my feelings into the decision as well. I look at them when I've narrowed it down a bit, although they can rule out an elimination if the feeling is strong enough and logical. I know that seems like a contradiction, but feelings can be misleading for me if they aren't at least mostly grounded in logic. Intuition rules more than feelings over the course of making the choice.

    It's a very smooth process, and I can usually walk non-INTJs through it, helping them to see the logic and pros/cons of each option. It seems to lower their stress to have a calm, objective voice systematically guiding them along. So if you know an INTJ who knows you relatively well, ask them to help you decide. Hopefully they can let you bounce your thoughts off of them, and they can redirect them in this way.

  5. #5
    Senior Member Beargryllz's Avatar
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    I do know that I would trust an INTJ to make a decision (more than any other type), if only because I'm largely incapable of doing so.

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    Quote Originally Posted by highlander View Post
    The trite answer would be:
    - first look at the big picture
    - then apply logic
    - then consider feelings
    - finally look at facts
    Basically something like this.
    1. I first think about what I need or what needs to be completed
    2. Set your goal
    3. Best case scenario of reaching your goal(I usually never achieve my best case)
    4. Find our how you want the last step to look like/be (before you complete it)
    5. Start from your first step onward, considering any factor as you progress
    *6. Think of anyways to make it easier, more efficient, or get around it. (Don't necassarily have to do it or when you have nothing else to do)
    ?????
    PROFIT
    * Optional

    I only consider others feelings, mine don't matter :P

    If that didn't make sense heres an example. (1&2 are basically the same, but 2 is like setting it in stone)

    1. Need to finish all my homework for school
    2. Finish all my homwork before it's due
    3. Have it all done before school/the class
    4. Have my homework out and ready to be collected
    5.
    -Breaks/meals and distractions will amount to around 3-4 hours
    -Homework for 2 of the classes take 3+ hours
    -Homework for the rest take between 0-1.5 hours
    -The rate of how fast I do hw decreases until I take a break
    6.
    -Doing a shit job would be faster/easier
    -Copy of someone
    -Don't do it
    -Hope for an extension
    -Skip class
    -Fake sickness
    -....etc

    Hope that helped ^.^

  7. #7
    Supreme High Commander Andy's Avatar
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    The first, and often most difficult step, is to decide what you want. Once that is done everything else gets easier.

    Take the desired result and mapout a route to it. Sometimes easiest to start with current conditions and trace a path to the destination. Sometimes it's easier to start with the destination and work backwards to the present conditions. Often a bit of both works well.

    Also don't forhet to make your plans flexible - it's hard to predict everything. A backup plan that can cope with multiple events is always useful.
    Don't make whine out of sour grapes.

  8. #8
    i love skylights's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Andy View Post
    The first, and often most difficult step, is to decide what you want. Once that is done everything else gets easier.

    Take the desired result and mapout a route to it. Sometimes easiest to start with current conditions and trace a path to the destination. Sometimes it's easier to start with the destination and work backwards to the present conditions. Often a bit of both works well.
    how do you know if your route is a good one?

    Quote Originally Posted by Shiet_Happens View Post
    Basically something like this.
    1. I first think about what I need or what needs to be completed
    2. Set your goal
    3. Best case scenario of reaching your goal(I usually never achieve my best case)
    4. Find our how you want the last step to look like/be (before you complete it)
    5. Start from your first step onward, considering any factor as you progress
    *6. Think of anyways to make it easier, more efficient, or get around it. (Don't necassarily have to do it or when you have nothing else to do)
    ?????
    PROFIT [...]

    Hope that helped ^.^
    it did, thank you!

    the best case scenario is interesting... and the touch-and-go as you progress. i've always felt like once i've made the decision, that's kind of it. maybe that's that whole "following through" thing. haha...

    Quote Originally Posted by Beargryllz View Post
    I do know that I would trust an INTJ to make a decision (more than any other type), if only because I'm largely incapable of doing so.
    inorite!

    i figured they're good ones to go to for advice about decision making for this reason

    Quote Originally Posted by Amie View Post
    One thing I do without always realizing it [...] is to figure the worst case scenario. I don't mean it in a depressing or negative way, but the worst case scenario is usually not that bad for any situation and that takes a lot of pressure off.

    From there I can rule out the bad options (ones in which the worst case scenario is likely or unacceptable) and I can reduce the number of options on the table. I think I group options together to reduce the number I'm dealing with as well. I kind of categorize them. Then when I have it down to one category I can open that group back up and repeat the process with the options that were contained there.
    huh. that's a good point.

    It seems to lower their stress to have a calm, objective voice systematically guiding them along. So if you know an INTJ who knows you relatively well, ask them to help you decide. Hopefully they can let you bounce your thoughts off of them, and they can redirect them in this way.
    lol yeah. it's so true. having someone around really helps stabilize me... i guess i have enough T to do the process okay but don't trust it much. i need to go INTJ hunting. :net:

    Quote Originally Posted by highlander View Post
    The trite answer would be:
    - first look at the big picture
    - then apply logic
    - then consider feelings
    - finally look at facts


    As far as facts and evidence goes, it depends on the kind of decision it is. In some cases, it is perfectly reasonable to rely on the past as a predictor of the future. In other cases, facts are not really the most important thing at all.
    it's interesting to me that you separate facts and logic. i always pictured the two together, but i suppose it's quite true that there's a difference.

    Quote Originally Posted by Coriolis View Post
    The first step I take, and perhaps the most important one, is to define the problem or choice as clearly, correctly, and completely as possible. Facts, logic, inspiration, etc. won't help if applied to the wrong question. I may think, for example, that the choice is whether to remain in a bad job or not. Upon reflection, I may see that the real issue is what I want to be doing at this stage of my career. It is only in this context that I can effectively evaluate the relative merits of my present job.

    Once the problem is clear, I then sweep away as many external constraints and influences as I can. I try to identify unspoken, even subconscious assumptions affecting my judgment, and set them aside unless they are necessary to the problem as stated. For instance, I may realize that I was assuming I must have a job, and broaden that assumption to include schooling since either can contribute to one's career. I try to imagine an ideal solution, unhindered by "reality" in any way.

    Once I can see this fairly clearly, I bring reality back, piece by piece. To continue with my example, I might ask such questions as: do I have the necessary qualifications for my ideal job/position? What similar opportunities are available now? What contacts do I have? Would I have to relocate? I will research the information needed to answer these and other questions, rather thoroughly if the decision is important. A critical part of this process is a cross-check with my other values and priorities. My ideal job may be available, but only somewhere I do not wish to live; or my current job, however bad, may provide a training opportunity I consider valuable. I will make lists and comparisons, and come up with what objectively seems to be the optimal solution.

    At this point, I usually step back from all the data and analysis and ask whether it makes sense in the big picture. For big decisions especially, there is almost always some associated risk. Few outcomes are certain. It may seem odd to say, but I place much weight on my gut feel here, so much so that when there is no time for a proper analysis, I have learned to rely on it. Fortunately it almost always agrees with the analysis, but when it doesn't, it has proven wise to go back and "check my answers". Usually there is something I have overlooked, like one of those unrecognized assumptions.
    this is cool. it sounds like yall are seeing this as a multi-step process, and one with clear stages. i guess my biggest question is, you don't get hung up on making a "right" decision? just one that works? or i guess the right decision is technically one that works... hm...

  9. #9
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    The first step is to get a good sense of where you want to be 10 years from now. Next, you figure out how to get there. Decision making feels a lot more concrete if you're connecting dots than if you simply ask yourself "what seems right?".

  10. #10
    On a mission Usehername's Avatar
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    Arrow Here is how to do it well!

    Step One: Gather information.
    What, specifically, am I deciding on? Clearly naming it is half the battle.
    What is the context? Does this pretty much just affect me, or is this going to affect others? How much? What is their preferred outcome? Why do they prefer that outcome? Ultimately, does it matter what other people prefer? As a 20something without a child or relationship, I am able to make some totally selfish decisions. This may not always be the case, so I have been taking risks now. There are pros and cons to every situation you're in--maximize the pros you have working for you.

    Step Two: Decide what my specific priorities are.
    If I know, that's great. If I don't:
    I created a three page list of ethical standards and quotes by which I want to live my life, sometimes it's helpful to go to my abstractions when I'm confused about how I want to deal with a specific instance. I only refer back to it maybe twice a year. Perhaps I should do it more--it's always helpful when I'm feeling disoriented about my priorities.

    Step Three: Remind myself that, often, the best long-term decision is the slightly less appealing short term decision
    This can be as simple as deciding to read a book instead of sitting dazed in front of a screen consuming a movie--I want to be knowledgeable, and books are high-octane vocabulary & well-contextualized knowledge builders.
    Other times, it's far more complex and difficult, e.g. withstanding a bit of heat to maintain a prior commitment or standard.

    Step Four: Execute decision, and remind myself that life is a work in progress to avoid decision remorse
    So long as I'm making a decision I am not ashamed of, I remind myself that life is a series of small choices, and I can fine-tune along the way. We can only do the best we can with the resources available at the time.

    Hindsight is a beautiful resource, but that's not a resource available to you in the moment that you're executing an action, so do your best and then give yourself a break.

    Generally, it's better to take action repeatedly, fixing things along the way, than it is to not take any action at all.

    Don't fall for the myth of a beautiful single execution. Life is a series of small actions, and the great thing about it is that you can pause between them and reflect on how these actions are working for you.

    Personal example:
    Myth: I just uprooted myself from Canada and committed to 7 years in the USA to finish my PhD
    Reality: 18 months ago I began researching schools and talking to people who had done grad school, because I was considering that instead of the work force, THEN
    I talked to profs who knew me, asking questions and getting feedback specific to me, THEN
    I was invested enough in the idea to ask for letters of rec, THEN
    I made a short list of where I could see myself flourishing, THEN
    I filled out my applications, THEN
    I applied and got acceptances/rejections, etc. etc.
    All of these moments let me stop, pause, gather information (including my feelings) and decide how to proceed. At any moment I gave myself permission to chart a different course, which is what I will continue to do on this path. I don't presume to know what life will be like in x amount of years because I'm continually refining my trajectory, goals and priorities. Don't fall for the myth of a grand execution.
    *You don't have a soul. You are a Soul. You have a body.
    *Faith is the art of holding on to things your reason once accepted, despite your changing moods.
    C.S. Lewis

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