4 tips to making powerful choices
It’s not a big leap to go from feeling a bit fed up to feeling completely stuck.
Feeling stuck is not pleasant. It’s uncomfortable, smothering, claustrophobic even. Sometimes we confuse being stuck with feeling secure. Phrases like “better the devil you know” spring to mind.
We can even chastise ourselves for feeling stuck. Perhaps you find yourself saying “I have a job/family/house so what’s the problem? I should be happy!”
Notice the “should”? Should is a word of obligation rather than motivation. It’s about satisfying a external expectation (real or imagined) rather than meeting an internal need. This means it’s usually about how things appear to others rather than how they feel to you.
Feeling stuck is a sign that we have a choice to make. Choice is associated with change. Change is often associated with risk. And risk is often associated with fear. Fear of the unknown, fear of loss, fear of upsetting someone. The reason we feel stuck is because we have something exciting and compelling drawing us forward and then our reservations and fears holding us back. This situation is often described as “like having one foot on the accelerator and the other on the brake.”
So, if you want to get unstuck, here are four steps to get you moving again:
Tip 1: Acknowledge you DO have choices.
Thinking about, writing down or speaking about choices does NOT mean you are making that choice. We too often shut down the possibilities available to us because we fear that even thinking about them will cause trouble:
We catastrophise: I can’t think about working away from home because my children will suffer, fail at school and start taking drugs.
We molly coddle: I can’t think about having a business that I love which pays me a great salary because I might fail and that will be humiliating.
We presume: I can’t think about going for that promotion because my boss/colleagues/partner will think I’m too full of myself.
These are all excuses. They are based on thoughts and feelings rather than facts and they usually take up disproportionate room in our minds.
Allow yourself to imagine, to think, to create. Sometimes the most enlightening ideas come from a seemingly “impossible” choice.
Tip 2: Recognise HOW you make choices.
As executive coach Clive Hyland says in his book, we generally Think, Feel or Know our way through making a choice.
Thinkers lead with logic, practicality and facts.
Feelers often ask others opinions, are guided by emotion and create stories or images when thinking about the potential outcomes.
Knowers decide fairly quickly and independently, trusting their intuition, without always being able to explain why they’ve made that choice.
Naturally, we don’t use just one of these approaches. In fact, it is really powerful to harness all three. To recognise how you make choices, think back to the best decision you’ve ever made. What brought you to that decision?
Having trouble making a decision? Perhaps you’re ignoring what your lead factor is telling you? For instance, we often turn to our Think factor if our instinct (Know) is saying something scary!
Tip 3: Make POWERFUL choices.
Our values are a core part of who we are and what makes us happy. When faced with a choice, your values will make the answers much clearer and simpler. Your choice will either be true to one or more of your values or will ignore them/go against them.
If you’re not sure of your values, answer this
“Success in my life means…….”
and then for each part of your response follow up with
“Which means that….”
until you get to the source of what is most important to you.
NB this will not be money or time. These are merely enablers. Dig past them to get to the real stuff.
Tip 4: Doing nothing is still a choice
Change is inevitable. Even if you stay as still as you can, everything around you is changing all the time. And you can’t control it all, no matter how hard you try.
Every choice comes with a risk. The “what if….” factor. And that’s OK. Don’t be afraid of the “What if”. Just as in point 1. thinking about it doesn’t make it happen. Work it through. Think about what you would do “if” your choice didn’t work out the way you wanted it to. What could you do now to mitigate it or minimise the impact?
And if, after all that, you don’t change anything, that’s OK too. Choosing NOT to do something is still a choice and by making that choice, you have started a change in and around you.