With a little bit of logic and a lot of ‘gut feels’ you can stop ‘over-thinking’ and start taking action.
Recently, I wrote a post about those big, hairy decisions that keep you up at night.
Like deciding to quit your job, say no to a client, close down your business or increase your prices.
I talked about how, when the stakes get high, we have to learn to quiet the noise because our heart knows what our head is too overwhelmed to see.
But, as true as that is, sometimes we need to ‘work’ through a problem and so here is my process for making big life choices and risky business decisions.
When you’re overwhelmed, start with what you know.
Throughout the year I stop to reflect on my business and how it’s going. I analyse what has been working well and what hasn’t and the consequences of both. It’s a quick fire activity that I don’t ‘over think’ but instead list anything that immediately comes to mind. For instance, I carried out this exercise in May to reflect on the start of 2019 and figure out where to go next because I was low on motivation, energy and discipline. Here’s what I listed.
Doing this activity helps you understand where you find joy, what you like doing and what you don’t so you can make better choices. You can see what changes need to be made, what’s important to you and even what kind of person you are. Awareness is power and ensures you make the right decision for you not the right decision for those around you.
Ask yourself, what’s the worst that could happen?
Stick with me here. This isn’t about letting your fear take over, this is about facing reality and coming to terms with the worst case scenario so you can set yourself free.
For example, when quitting my job to start a business the worst case scenario was that I wouldn’t be able to generate enough income and i’d have to find a job. Of course my brain hounded me with thoughts of failure, humiliation, disappointing those i love etc. But, when I faced it head on, from a practical point of view, it stopped all the ‘end of the world’ thinking my brain had been using to paralyse me and enabled me to see clearly. The worst case scenario whilst unpleasant, was something I could handle.
So really, what is the worst case scenario and how would you handle it? Because believe me you would.
Brainstorm all the options.
Maybe there’s something you’re not seeing because you’re so focused on the obvious. There’s always more options than you immediately think of. Perhaps you have someone you trust that won’t tell you what to do but might point out a different idea? Those people are the best and don’t be afraid to ask for help. Work out all the options and don’t assume the one you’re focused on is the only one available. At the very least you’ll see that you are in control of this choice.
Be honest about what gets you excited.
I’m not big on visualising 10 years down the line because chances are you’ll get overwhelmed and with any big change you often have to focus fully on the step in front of you to be able to move so instead of imagining how amazing it will feel in the future, ask yourself which option gets you excited now?
It can be hard to tap into our feelings when they are buried deep beneath our childhood expectations, perfectionist personality or our parents disapproval but you can’t fake excitement. This decision is either something you get excited about or it’s not. The options available to you will all have many pros and cons (and you can list them) but at the end of the day there’s one that you’ll be motivated to act on.
It all boils down to what you can live with.
Often we shy away from the option we really want either because we want it too much, we’re scared or it feels impossible. If you’ve ever read The Fault in Our Stars by John Green you’ll recall this insightful quote:
“You don’t get to choose if you get hurt in this life, but you do get some say in who hurts you.”
Mr Green might have been talking about epic romances but the wisdom applies here too.
You’re going to have regrets in life. That’s guaranteed. There will be mistakes and failure. You don’t get a say in that. But you do get some say in what your regrets will be and it’s a great way of understanding what you really want.
Ask yourself, which is the option/choice/change you’ll look back and wish you’d gone through with?
After all that analysis, brainstorming and thinking get yourself outside and let it all go. Breathe. Remove the pressure, push away everything you’ve just ‘worked out’ and feel what your instinct is pushing you towards. Let your instinct take you the rest of the way.
And if you’re now shouting at me that you did all that and you still don’t know what to do then go hire a life coach, a professional who can help you unpick your thoughts, feelings and goals. We all need a little help to see through our crazy now and again 🙂