We all know that feeling – paralysed into non-action by a choice that feels overwhelming. Procrastinating. Delaying. Stressing. Running ‘what if’ scenarios in our self-talk that rival Hollywood blockbusters.
Fed up with lying awake at 3am, we end up making the decision that we feel is the ‘right’ one for all involved, often saying yes when we mean no, or basing our choice on how we mind-read that others will react.
I had a perfect example of this today, which nearly got me slipping back into ‘bad’ habits and inspired me to write this quick #soulnudge article for you.
We have a therapy studio, which we rent out to local practitioners. It’s a beautiful space, completely self-contained and free from the telephones, chatting and screaming babies that can impact your client sessions in a town-centre therapy suite.
But I have a golden rule: I won’t hire out the space to a therapist until I have met them. That way I know they’re genuine, they’re a good fit for the energy of our site, I can give them instant-answers to their questions and I can show them the basics of how things like the wood-burner and hob work (stove-top kettle), which means I don’t have to be around when they host their client session.
Yesterday I got a call from a therapist who was so super-keen to view the place that she had got frustrated with me for not returning her call the same day – in other words, she was keen and in a hurry. But she was still polite and friendly. I explained that our house-sitter from when we were on holiday is currently staying in the studio, so it’s not set up for therapies this week, but I said I would see if our house-sitter could accommodate a viewing this afternoon and I promised to get back to the lady by 10am today.
I said yes when my heart was telling me to say no. The studio’s garden needed a tidy-up. The room had an air bed and clothes all over it. But I didn’t want to disappoint this lady by saying no. And I would have found a way to make it work.
Then, at school run this morning, I found out that my son has his first ever cricket match this afternoon. He has asked me to go and watch. It’s at the same time as the studio viewing was due to be.
I sat at home with a cup of tea and pondered: watch the match and let down the therapist? Or keep my provisional promise to the therapist and let down my son?
Whenever we have a big decision to make, there are three things to bear in mind – most of which go out of the window when we’re feeling stressed:
1. Choices made from love and freedom create more love and freedom in your life.
Choices made from fear and obligation spread more fear and obligation.
It’s vitally important to have clear boundaries. When you get fuzzy with what’s acceptable and what’s not in your life, bending over backwards to please people, you’re sending out a rocket to the Universe, telling it to give you more opportunities to have your boundaries tested.
Saying yes when your heart is calling you to say no is a classic example.It risks breeding resentment.
As long as you can sleep with a clear conscience, you might as well choose the choice that comes from love, rather than fear.
2. Is it really a difficult decision, or am I just telling myself it is?
So many of the decisions we stress about aren’t really important, once we step back far enough to turn that mountain back into a molehill. It’s the stories we tell ourselves about them that make them seem huge and difficult – most of the time.
If you were ‘outside’ of the emotions and drama of a situation, what advice would you give a loved-one who was struggling to make that decision? When you let go of your attachment to right and wrong decisions, it’s amazing how much easier they become.
3. Does it move me towards my dreams? Or away from them?
I use this one in my business decisions – daily. As an entrepreneur I often fall for Shiny Object Syndrome (see Step 6 of Dare To Dream Bigger!), where new and exciting projects can take priority over the slightly less sexy (dull as ditch-water) actions that actually create progress.
By asking myself whether a new idea or opportunity or tricky decision moves me towards or away from my Big Vision and goals, it makes that yes / no so much simpler.
Notice how the one thing around which most of us base our tricky decisions isn’t in there?
“What will other people think?”
Why is that?
Because this is your life, not theirs.
Yes, there are some decisions that truly affect the lives of others. And we should consider the consequences of those. But we still need to be true to ourselves and what feels right, rather than second-guessing what might make them happy.
[blank_space height=’2em’][page_section color=’#613c6b’ textstyle=’light’ position=’default’ padding_bottom=’on’ padding_top=’on’]
Here’s a secret I want you to know today:
Most of our choices don’t really matter. If you were to zoom forwards to your 80th birthday (or beyond, if you’re already there!) and ask yourself which option was the ‘right’ one, you’ll either get a clear answer, or perspective: it didn’t really matter.
So what am I doing about the cricket match?
Well, I took a step out of the stress-and-drama stories and the decision was obvious: I’m going to my son’s first match. No-brainer.
Interestingly, within moments of the decision, the therapist phoned me and told me that she is bringing her client to our meeting this afternoon, so he can agree with her whether the space is suitable. There is no way that would be appropriate, with our house-sitter still living there and her personal belongings around the place. The lady wasn’t asking me if it was ok. She was presenting it as a done-deal.
I had to tell her I couldn’t make the appointment today, partly because I hadn’t been able to get hold of our friend who is staying there, to check if it’s ok (and to make sure nothing personal is lying around), and partly because of the cricket match.
The therapist came across as frustrated, but was still polite. I have put her in a position where she is messing her client around – even though I would never have offered to let the client view the space this week. I have offered her two times next week and she said she’ll get back to me. She might. Or she might not. And that’s ok.
‘Old Clare’ would now be stressed about upsetting not one but two strangers. She would be feeling guilty. She would be telling herself stories about being a bad person for letting the therapist down (even if she didn’t!).
‘This Clare’ knows she has done the right thing and also remembers that setting boundaries early on in any business relationship will make things much easier in the long-run.
Have Your Say!
I’m curious: are there any decisions you have been putting off, because they felt too big or too difficult?
How might you handle them differently now?
And what was the real reason behind the procrastination?
Hint: you can figure that out by completing at least 3-5 answers to the statement: “I can’t make that decision, because…”
I’d love to hear from you, via the comments.
With love, Namaste,
Author, Speaker, Mentor To Entrepreneurs & Passionate World-Changers