You may think of critical thinking as a skill that only business analysts, CEOs, and members of big think tanks use. While they certainly do use it and are extremely good at it, we use critical thinking in our everyday lives as well. To illustrate the point and show you how improving the skill can help, I want to run through an illustration of critical thinking in action. Anyone should be able to relate to this example.

Let’s say you’re in charge of planning the annual family get-together. You’ll use a lot of critical thinking skills to plan and execute the event. You start by gathering data. In this case, this may involve figuring out how many people will attend, what dates the event could happen on, how formal or informal it will be, etc. You’ll also scout out locations, get food and drink options, etc.

Once you have most of your initial questions answered, it’s time to make some decisions. You’ll weigh the options of renting space vs. having it at your house. You may get quotes for having the event catered and weigh it against doing it all yourself, asking family members to bring a dish to share, and even using a mix of all three. From there you start to plan the food and drink menu.

You start getting in touch with family members and make adjustments as needed based on their feedback. For example, you may hear that the majority of them won’t be able to make it the first Saturday of the month because of prior commitment and decide to push it back to the third weekend. You weigh your options when it comes to location, based on final guest count and cost.

With some of the initial decisions made, you start to create a plan to put it all into action. You make your lists, assign some of the items on it to your sister, who kindly offered to help you put this together. You send off invitations, order drinks, prep food, put together decorations, etc.

Along the way you continue to make adjustments based on time, cost, and any changes that pop up like final guest count, weather, dietary requests, etc. With critical thinking in action, you pull off a fun event that’s enjoyed by all.

Of course, this is just one simple example of critical thinking in action. Start to pay attention to what you do in your day-to-day life. Where do you employ critical thinking? Once you start to pay attention to it, you notice it everywhere from your latest large purchase to choosing a new health insurance plan.