Some people pride themselves in being flexible, in being able to make changes and in being able to take action at a moment’s notice; but this does not necessarily mean being impulsive. In order to make wise decisions, one must make a distinction between being flexible and being impulsive.

Flexibility and Thoughtful Consideration

       Flexibility involves thoughtful consideration of the situation and being open to changing one’s views, based on the information that has become available. Flexibility also demonstrates the willingness of taking new ideas into consideration, and not being afraid to accept that one’s previous position may have been miscalculated or that circumstances have changed. Flexibility also means taking time to reflect and to consider what is relevant, appropriate and workable.

Impulsivity and Little Thoughtfulness

       Impulsivity usually involves fast action, and often very little thoughtfulness on the subject. Impulsive people may be influenced by a fad, a comment, or simply a change of mood. Impulsive people do not think things through, weighing the pros and cons of a decision. For example, an impulsive person, on hearing that something is good deal, may decide immediately to purchase it, without getting the details about the product, its characteristics and its uses. Only after getting it, that person may discover that it really was not a deal after all. It may be something that is of little use to him or her.

Flexibility and Impulsivity Compared

        Impulsivity is similar to flexibility in some respects. For example, in many instances there is a change in position. Being flexible and being impulsive could come about through the influence of others. However, in the case of flexibility, an individual may take more time to consider the issue and is usually self-directed in making the decision to change his or her position. In the case of impulsivity, the individual may not even consider his or her own counsel.

Evidence of Impulsivity

       Many children are described as being impulsive and teachers are encouraged to help these students be more thoughtful about their work. For example, some teachers require that when they ask a question in class, students must take some seconds to consider the question and formulate the answer before pushing up their hands. In this way, students have to think about what is being asked and decide on a good answer. Adults who are plagued by impulsivity often display this jump to new decisions without allowing time for considering different alternatives.

Good Advice for People in All Walks of Life

       Young people making career choices are encouraged to be flexible in thinking through these choices. Furthermore, young people are encouraged to make career choices that allow them to be flexible to whatever new situations may arise in the economy. This requires that young people give much thoughtful consideration to the pros and cons of ideas they have about career choices, and not be impulsive and choose a career because it seems like something that can be fun. After all, the economy is continually changing, and as new ideas become reality, new professions and occupations emerge. Not preparing themselves with skills that are adaptable to different situations could prove to be unwise.

Embrace Flexibility, but Hold on to Core Principles

       Being prepared to be flexible in adapting skills to different situations is something to be embraced.  Here is one useful saying: “Life is like gymnastics; it’s better if you’re flexible” (Anonymous). At the same time, this does not mean abandoning one’s life principles, for as Eleanor Roosevelt was quoted as saying, “Be flexible, but stick to your principles.” Applying these sayings to career choices, one can have certain core values about one’s place and one’s role in the world, and at the same time be flexible as to how these core values are expressed in one’s choices. Controlling impulsivity therefore enables careful and thoughtful consideration.

By Israelin Shockness at www.successfulyouthliving.com and at www.successfulyouthlivingblog.com.  

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