How to Develop a Strong Intuition for the Tough Decisions

Your intuitive ability is critical in helping with decisions going forward. We are all born with an intuitive power. But because we go to school to learn logic, we don’t get to develop a strong intuition. Optimizing your intuitive thought processes can make a difference in choosing certain paths and exactly how life unfolds for you. Here are some best ways for developing intuition beyond ordinary.

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This article is part 2 of my 3-part series, #JustKnow, stepping you through the process of how to develop your ‘just know’ to cut through blocks in deciding what’s best. Here’s what you can expect from the series:

  1. Answering the How to ‘Just Know’ What’s Right for You
  2. About Developing Intuition for the Tough Decisions
  3. Instinct vs Intuition: When to Trust Your Gut Feeling

What is good for me? Which is the right path? What should I do?

Logic doesn’t provide all the answers, see Answering the How to ‘Just Know’ What’s Right for You.

Where to then? Well…

Intuition has been described as the highest form of intelligence.

When you reach the end of what you should know, you will be at the beginning of what you should sense. ― Kahlil Gibran, Sand and Foam

Interestingly, artificial intelligence is now entering a phase of going beyond the logic level of intelligence (see this TED talk: the incredible inventions of intuitive AI).

This new technology uses intuitive processes to augment the logic ones (programming) that pose restrictions to further advancement.

This advancement is said to be beyond that of human intelligence.

I wonder why our schooling does not advance our intuitive abilities to augment our intelligence in the same way. Imagine that?!

In our world of tight regulation, rules, and legalities, being governed by logic, we are at risk of losing our most precious power…intuition.

That is unless! we consciously develop and work it like a muscle in our bodies — my take.

See Gut Feelings: The Intelligence of the Unconscious for more on that. As noted by the author, Gerd Gigerenzer: “If all you do is sit in a chair and trust your intuition, you are not exercising much intelligence. But if you take a deep dive into a subject and study numerous possibilities, you are exercising intelligence when your gut instinct tells you what is – and isn’t – important.”

So why does this matter?

Being able to make smart decisions intuitively, leads to success. It helps us achieve our desires, overcome our limitations, and experience a freer life.

1. Use the Same Technique as High Achievers

Following your intuition is something anyone can achieve. The more you trust and practice using your intuition, the better you become at deciding what’s best for you.

The formula for winning in this way is known and practiced by some of the more famous people in the world. Though, it still requires both rational and intuitive thinking.

Here’s a list of individuals who accredit their wins to listening to their intuition:

Anesthetist and former Special Air Service commando – John Taske

  • survived a climb of Mt Everest that ended in tragedy in 1996. He followed his intuition and stuck to his plan to abort his climb 300 m shy of the peak while others continued and perished.

Australian mountain climber and adventurer – Jon Muir

  • is known for his ‘sixth sense.’ He once convinced four British climbers to turn back from attempting the North Face of the Grandes Jorasses, even though conditions seemed perfect. His intuition saved their lives from a massive rock fall that had been unforeseen.

Legendary investor – Warren Buffet

Russian lieutenant colonel – Stanislav Petrov

  • defied military protocol and avoided a large-scale nuclear war. He followed his intuition and deemed early-warnings of successive US missile launches in the Russian detection system as false alarms. He was right — the Russian missile detection system was malfunctioning. The US avoided an erroneous attack, and the world avoided a nuclear disaster as a result.
  • Watch the movie: The Man Who Saved the World – starring Peter Anthony to find out more.

American media personality – Opray Winfrey

  • known for saying: “the universe is always trying to get your attention.” She is quoted as saying she trusted her inner voice her entire life — Read more in her biography What I know for Sure

The genius who developed the theory of relativity –  Albert Einstein

  • known for saying “The only real valuable thing is intuition.” He gained his insight intuitively, imagining patterns and images, the way an artist would for inspiration. Watch the TV Show Genius for the “entire story of the tumultuous private life of the 20th century’s most brilliant icon, Albert Einstein.”

French military and political leader – Napoleon Bonapart

A visionary scientist – Nikola Tesla

  • whose incredibly powerful intuition lead him to establish 700 patents worldwide for inventions he created.

My brain is only a receiver, in the Universe, there is a core from which we obtain knowledge, strength, and inspiration. I have not penetrated into the secrets of this core, but I know that it exists. ~ Nikola Tesla

Biographies are great places to get to know their formula for success.

I listed Bonapart’s formula in Answering the How to ‘Just Know’ What’s Right for You. It’s the basic model for developing intuition included here.



2. Know Your Stuff and Know Your True Self!

Develop a varied and broad perspective of your subject

For example, Bonapart used his knowledge gained from research and experience in the process of intuitively deciding what action to take.

And, Warren Buffet researched each company in depth before deciding on investing in it.

Recognize patterns

Chunks forming these patterns come from your experience and understanding, which are much like pieces of a jigsaw puzzle.

Also, more pieces of the puzzle come from knowing and understanding your true self, compared to that of your ego. Know yourself more than Google does.

In knowing your true self, be aware of your core values. How do they align with your present situation or direction? See When Feeling Stuck Do You Need to Analyse Your Core Values?

Listen to others’ perspectives, but look beyond these and remain open to all possibilities.

If you haven’t already, I recommend you learn to practice daily meditation to help you discover your true self.

3. Make Space for Insight

Be able to stay calm in chaos

Being able to stay calm in chaos was one of Bonapart’s secrets.

By calming the chaos, we can start to gain a presence of mind that is necessary for decisions based on higher intelligence.

Master these essential elements:

  • De-stressing
    • Get rid of the ‘noise’ and clutter
    • Chunk the overwhelming into smaller and simpler bits
    • Reduce distractions
    • Preserve free mental space
  • Relaxation
  • Shifting focus away from the issue for a while
  • Opening up to all possibilities
    • get rid of the ‘shoulds.’

To learn ways of doing this, see 7 Ways to Calm the Chaos in Our Lives Using Our Senses.

To spark intuition, you need a clear ‘head space’ to make room for flashes of insight.

Start by filtering out the noise and clutter. Dim the emotional turmoil and stress.

Stop multitasking – it is a fallacy that it achieves more.

Avoid social media distractions.

I find when I get into ‘the zone’… I ‘get it‘ — the dots start connecting.

This can happen when I’m doing something as mindless as cleaning, ironing, or watering or weeding the garden.

Letting go of perfectionism (see my Perfectionist Guide to Not Good Enough) is also critical for de-stressing and in making space.

To get beyond a metal block and trigger ah-ha moments, try stepping away from the issue.

Just leave it be…for a while.

Try these key ways to making space for ah-ha moments:

  • Meditate
  • Connect with Nature
  • Heal blocked energy, e.g. through Reiki
  • Journaling
  • Doodle
  • Draw, color in, or do something else creative
  • Take a shower (a favorite of Steve Jobs)
  • Go on a retreat or to a spa for relaxation
  • Do something that doesn’t require mindpower – like hanging out the clothes or ironing
  • Take a ‘Sunday’ drive
  • Use apps for relaxation and destressing
  • Listen to relaxing music

Check out these apps to help with de-stressing and relaxation:

Headspace: Guided Meditation and Mindfulness – Headspace meditation limited

Happify — Activities & Games for Stress & Anxiety – Happify, Inc.

Relax – Stress and Anxiety Relief – Saagara

Try out these music collections for relaxation:

50 Best Meditation Songs Collection – Meditation Music

Reiki Healing Touch – Amazing Calming Music for Reiki, Spiritual Healing, Holistic Health & Music Therapy – Reiki

Everything in Nature (Nature Sounds) – Nature Sounds

Here are examples of when I’ve had ah-ha moments:

  • During a long drive
  • Walking in nature
  • Crafting
  • Taking a shower
  • Vacant observations
  • Reiki sessions
  • Listening to music
  • Settling into meditation
  • Watering the garden
  • Weeding
  • Ironing

I don’t particularly like the idea of cleaning, weeding, and ironing. Who does! I’d much rather spend my time elsewhere. 🙂 But, when I do these things, I seem to get into the zone where intuitive thoughts flow.

What do I mean by ‘the zone’? It’s a feeling of being in the flow, similar to what creatives experience when working without deliberation.  It doesn’t happen when concentrating, such as when you’re learning something new or being analytical. It happens when you are in auto mode — doing something without thinking about it.

We need to stop drowning out our inner voice.

Source: Jen Smith, Life Coach, Author of “Beyond People-Pleasing.”



4. Find Your Channels for Getting Those Ah-ha Moments

There are many ways to receive intuitive guidance.

It will come as a flow of ideas, a message or an image channeled at random.

It often comes when you’re not expecting it.

Here is a bunch of channels:

  • Brainstorming (just letting words flow without judgment or editing)
  • Blind reading (choosing from cards hiding yes, no, or maybe answers)
  • Asking spirit guides a question, then waiting and listening for answers
  • Asking an imaginary mentor
  • Flipping a coin
  • Sleeping on it
  • Passages in magazines, books (selecting random paragraphs or pages)

It’s best to use what resonates with you. If you have a block relating to the validity of a channel (like for me it’s flipping a coin), it won’t work.

This is my personal ‘go to’ list for finding inspiration and guidance in passages:

It is through science that we prove, but through intuition that we discover. ~Henri Poincare, French mathematician, theoretical physicist, engineer, and philosopher of science.

Be aware of a sudden feeling or sense of awareness from each of the above. Listen. Observe. Carry a notebook to write down sudden enlightenments. This is all about developing intuition.


5. Trust and Act on Your Hunches

Bonapart acted on his flashes of insight and dominated the battlefield.

Don’t doubt or overanalyze your decision if you’re convinced it’s correct. If it feels right, stick to it.

Don’t force or stress about it.

For developing intuition, take one step at a time. Start with ordinary matters to gain confidence and trust in your intuition.

In that way, developing intuition is like forming a new relationship.

Worried about the voice of fear and anxiety? The next part in this series discusses the difference between intuitive thought and emotional urges.

Be like Oprah and many other achievers, and introduce a morning ritual of meditation or prayer for clarity of thought. There are many benefits from a daily meditation practice.

Intuition offers a direct line to your life force, and also, as I experience it, to a divine intelligence. ~Judith Orloff MD

Keep a daily journal of your hunches and how they manifest. Look back and learn.

Search for signs of synchronicity and unusual coincidences. What do these mean? Ask the question. Listen.

6. Developing Intuition in Chunks

Ordinary ways we use intuition each day include driving to work, choosing meals, deciding on what to wear, and a multitude of others.

Malcolm Gladwell in Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking, talks about the way intuition works, including our instinctive ability to mind read, sense another’s emotions, and all seemingly without logical information.

Sophy Burnham, the bestselling author of The Art of Intuition, describes intuition as “the subtle knowing without ever having any idea why you know it. It’s different from thinking; it’s different from logic or analysis … It’s a knowing without knowing.”

When knowing what to do comes easy, when things just fall into place – a strong intuition is indicated.

The tricky part is advancing our ordinary intuition to a level requiring expertise or strategic (important) decisions.

It’s best to practice with the small decisions first. Such as, what to have for breakfast? Or choosing a dish from that menu, or preempting who is the caller or person sending you a message. These small but conscious developments build confidence for more important ones.

So, start sharpening your intuition with ordinary situations to build your trust and confidence in your innate abilities.

7. Four Steps to Developing Intuition Beyond Ordinary

#1: Be savvy

Be well informed about the situations for which you need guidance (see #2 and the formula of high achievers). That is, refer to your experience or research the subject, or both. As well, know your true self and core values (tip: name three things you are interested in the most). And, know when your ego is driving your behavior and feelings. Remember, these are the pieces that form the pattern for intuitive power.

#2: Be objective

There is no room for intuition to work when there is emotional baggage. This can be difficult when the stakes are high, when you are emotionally involved, e.g. in a financial or romantic relationship. And, stakes are higher with important decisions. People feel they have more to lose. This is where you need to watch out for interference from fear and anxiety. Listening to your higher intelligence may open doors in this respect.

Not sure if it’s your intuition or the voice of fear and anxiety? The next article in this series discusses this common dilemma.

Some best ways to tap into higher intelligence:

  • Meditation
  • Journaling
  • Prayer
  • Energy healing
  • Getting outdoors away from the situation and connecting with the spirit of nature

#3: Practice!

Practice being calm, listening, trusting, and taking action on your flashes of insight!

#4: Introspection and Celebration!

Reflect through journaling or other means. Celebrate the wins! Learn from the mistakes!

It’s a rinse and repeat

Take baby steps until you feel comfortable.

We’ve been schooled in logic for years. So, it will take practice and conscious effort to grow.


8. Signs Your Intuition is Strong

You know your intuition is strong when you mostly:

  • find things just seem to happen easily, like they’re meant to be
  • experience ‘coincidences’. Example: with career, relationships, and relocating
  • have an immediate and accurate sense of when you are being misled
  • experience synchronicity (people or things showing up in the right place at the right time)
  • can finish someone’s sentence in your head before they speak it
  • feel connected to a ‘Higher Self’
  • know who the messenger or caller is on your phone before you look
  • have hunches that lead you onto the right path
  • wake up at the time you tell yourself to wake up at (without the help of an alarm)

What Signs Have You Experienced in Developing Intuition?


In Summary

The emphasis on our development since we started our formal schooling has been on reasoning and logic.

Our intuitive abilities have been left to experience. Yet, science tells us we are all born with these abilities (see Answering the How to ‘Just Know’ What’s Right for You) and testimonies of achievers tell us intuition will take you further than logic alone.

So, developing your intuition is worth it.  Though, it requires trust and practice, allowing space for intuitive thoughts and messages, and confidence in acting.

The next article in this series discusses the common dilemma of knowing whether it’s your intuition or emotional urges that are driving you.

The articles in this series:

  1. Answering the How to ‘Just Know’ What’s Right for You
  2. About Developing Intuition for the Tough Questions
  3. Instinct vs Intuition: When to Trust Your Gut Feeling

Further reading:

  2. 21 quotes on intuition

Related: #1 Way to Naturally Feel Better, and Feeling Stuck? Do You Need to Assess Your Core Values?


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