The evaluate-think-decide-act loop is a critical life skill. It is not instinctive or intuitive, at least in humans. Sometimes we listen, sometimes we think, sometimes we ponder, and sometimes we act—but not in a consistent pattern. There’s a time to look and listen, a time to think, and a time to be still, ponder, and let your decision grow to fruition. After all that, it’s time to act. Make sure you do it in that order. Jumbling it up causes all sorts of problems.

The good news is that this pattern can be taught and learned. Pilots, for example, are so well trained in a similar decision-making loop that it becomes instinctive for them. We ought to be training our children, very early on, to do the same thing.

Every step in that loop has great value. Some of us tend to favor one over the other, by preference, personality, or habit. Some of us take in endless information, which is great, if we do something with it. Some of us like to think things over, but without curiosity and investigation we have too many variables to solve the problem. Some of us like to contemplate our decisions, but that’s not the same as thinking them through and analyzing the information. And some of us are all about the action, which is the point of the process. But if we act first, we are just reacting mindlessly.

I’ve called it a loop, because as soon as we act, we move back around and start looking and listening again. What has changed after we made our move? What does our next move need to be?

Do you want to be wise, good, and free? Then practice this loop, in everything you do. Master it, and you will master yourself.

© Greg Smith, 2013

Greg is the founder and chief creative officer of Black Lake Studio ( He is also a writer and speaker, working in a variety of non-fiction and fiction genres, and frequently collaborates with other authors. You can read and learn more at his site, (
Facebook: SmithGreg page
LinkedIn: Greg Smith