Have you ever been faced with making a tough choice and felt overwhelmed by the process of simply making a decision?
Or you're not clear on which path is the “right” one for you now?
One of the biggest blocks to making a decision is the fear of making the wrong one. We’re afraid a decision that we make is going to somehow turn into Armageddon for our lives and it’s going to be the worst decision we’ve ever made. Then we’d have to deal with not only the terrible consequences but feeling ashamed and embarrassed that we made the “wrong” choice.
And that’s exactly what held me back for a long time… until I decided not to let it anymore.
Here are the steps to get unstuck and confidently move forward with the right decision for you.
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Step 1: List out the worst and best case scenarios that could happen as a result of your decision
When I was a financial planner many years ago, it was very clear to me that my job wasn’t right for me. But I felt stuck and afraid to leave the safety and income security that comes with a 9-to-5. For a long time I was too scared to make the leap to doing something else because I didn’t know what I wanted to do. I soon reached the point where I couldn’t stomach the thought of going into work and I couldn’t bear feeling so miserable any longer.
That’s when I developed this process. It starts with getting your fears out onto paper where you can see them in black and white and start to dispel them. I thought, “What’s the worst possible outcome here?” I started listing out all the terrible things I imagined could happen as a result of quitting my job.
These are some of the things that were on my list:
I won’t have any income and therefore I’m going to be homeless.
I won’t be able to feed myself.
I’ll feel so ashamed.
People would think I’m a loser.
I listed as many fears around quitting my job as I could think of. That gave me the opportunity to get some perspective and discern the truth about how likely it was that each fear would come to pass. For some people, quitting their job would actually cause them to become homeless. In my context, I felt like that wasn’t going to happen because I had enough friends and enough family that I could stay at someone’s house. Sure, it would be a bit embarrassing and it wouldn’t be the ideal solution, but I wouldn’t end up homeless. I went down my list, started addressing each fear and crossing them off.
And then I did the reverse. I asked myself, “What are the really awesome things that could happen?”
I could find work that I love.
I could feel fulfilled by my work every day.
I’d feel like my work is making a real difference in people’s lives.
My work would be in alignment with my values.
I’d be able to inspire people to go for their dreams, too.
Even though I didn’t know what the job was called, those are the feelings and the qualities I wanted whatever work I’d do to have.
What’s a decision that you’ve been afraid to make? Or something that you’re feeling overwhelmed by?
Start writing down your fears and hopes around that decision and start weighing the pros and cons of deciding one way or the other.
Step 2: Understand that not making a decision IS a decision - and a disempowering one.
The first blog post I ever wrote is called “Stuck on Stuck,” which is all about how I lost so much time, energy and joy being stuck with making a decision around creating my website and the process I used to get unstuck.
When you stay stuck, essentially you are making a default decision of “no choice”. Even when you’re not making a decision and proactively moving forward, you are still making a decision, but it’s a decision that gives up your power and the control that you have about creating your outcome versus living by default in that outcome.
What it comes down to is that you can either choose to proactively make a decision that maybe goes your way or you can reactively deal with the consequences of not deciding. Either way, you’re still responsible for the outcomes.
Step 3: Make a decision quickly and commit to it
One of the really big costs to staying stuck in indecision and overwhelm is not being able to move forward and reallocate the energy to something that’s more productive. If you’re a mama CEO, for example, you’ve got a lot of things vying for your time and attention. There are numerous decisions that have to be made every single day about how you spend your time and how you spend your energy.
One of the biggest complaints I hear from mama CEOs talk is that they don’t have enough time… They don’t have enough time for their businesses or their kids or they just can’t find the time to finally launch their businesses.
The first step to creating more time is to make decisions quickly so you can move into action and not get stuck in overwhelm. So, instead of looking at your long to-do list and thinking, “OMG, there are 25,000 things on my to-do list. How am I ever going to get this done?!”, ask yourself, “What is the next best thing I can do right now?”
You’ve got to make decisions quickly if you don’t want the process to turn into an energy drain. You’ll find that deciding quickly creates more time for you and you’ll get so much more done in your business. You may even be surprised that you find peace and fulfillment in your life even when your to-do list is a mile long.
That’s why the third step is to decide quickly and then commit to that decision by not changing your mind for at least 72 hours. Sit with that decision. See what it feels like when you’ve had a chance to exhale, finally make a decision and feel unstuck. What does it feel like? What’s the feedback you’re getting? Does it seem like the right decision for you after all?
A lot of decisions need more time to get the feedback that you need. For me, just simply making a decision moved me out of overwhelm, got me unstuck and allowed me to move forward. Let your fears settle down and give it some time so you don’t throw yourself back into feeling stuck by second-guessing yourself.
Step 4: Be compassionate with yourself.
Given the information that you had at the time, given the circumstances and given where you are in your life when you’re making that decision, you always make the decision that’s the best decision you are capable of. Always. I really don’t believe that anybody sits around thinking, “What is the worst decision I can make here? Let me do that so I can totally screw up my life.” We are all making the best decisions we can at any given moment, even if in hindsight some of them seem like bone-headed decisions.
So, be forgiving and compassionate with yourself if a decision turns out to be not the best decision. You have the opportunity every day at every moment to choose something new, make a new decision and be in the driver’s seat of your life.
Share your thoughts!
1. Have you ever felt stuck in indecision?
2. How did you get unstuck and move forward in your business or life?
Share in the comments below!