How to apply consequential thinking

EQ Durban, EQ South Africa
Written by: Avril Kidd
The second area of the KNOW YOURSELF model is CHOOSE YOURSELF. This involves self-management and being more intentional. Doing what you mean to do instead of reacting on autopilot. These competencies allow you to proactively respond. They provide you with the 'how', showing you how to take action, how to influence and how to operationalize these concepts.

The first of the Choose Yourself competencies is that of Applying Consequential Thinking

This competency involves weighing the pros and cons of each decision or choice you have. It helps you to assess your decisions and their effects. It is key to managing your impulses and acting intentionally (rather than reacting). It is a process of analyzing and reflecting, using both thoughts and feelings to identify a response that is optimal for yourself and others and looking at the long term affect.

Did you know we make 35,000 decisions each day?

Of those, we make 226 decisions each day just on food alone! With so many decisions to make whether in our personal or professional life we can understand why applying consequential thinking is so significant. Life is emotional, and so are decisions. Keeping emotions out of it is a myth that’s been busted. Emotions are a sort of primary filter for how we perceive and act in the world. Only by embracing them and practicing emotional intelligence can we make truly informed decisions.

 When we are lower on consequential thinking, we may tend to be impulsive particularly if we are high on optimism, however when we are very high on consequential thinking, we will think through decisions very carefully, and may sometimes come across as a slow decision maker if we get into too much analysis. We need to aim for balance in our decision making to avoid either procrastination of impulsivity.

What are some techniques you can use to better Apply Consequential Thinking?

First of all, weigh up the advantages and disadvantages of the choices you need to make and look at the potential long term consequences. You can also practice ‘If-Then Thinking’. For example, think what would happen if you walked out of your job in a fit of rage.

Practice anticipating problems before they happen. Anticipation helps us demystify fear and anxiety by breaking down the situation, removing barriers that hold us back from trying new things or making difficult decisions.

For all the Mathematicians out there try ‘Emotional Algebra’. Here you need to think about a decision you have to make and create a typical ‘pro’ and ‘con’ list with your reasons for one argument versus the other. Then consider your feelings about each item on your lists. Assigning each item a value from 1-10, where 10 represents an item with the greatest emotional impact. Examine and compare the two sides by ‘adding up’ the emotional weight. As emotions cannot be left out of decision making as mentioned before which option has the most emotional power?

Applying Consequential Thinking is a skill that develops with practice so next time you have a choice or decision to make, stop and think in order to be more intentional. And just think with 35 000 decisions we make each day there is plenty room to practice!

For those people like myself, who feel that they are too high in consequential thinking and may procrastinate or give too much emphasis to the risk rather than the reward, I challenge you to move forward on a decision that you may have been weighing up for a long time and look at the potential reward and long term benefits of making this decision and take action. I recently did this when I travelled to Cayman Islands and Toronto to work with a client a few weeks ago and it was worth it!