The Pain of Indecision

Fences contain or protect but they are not designed for growth

Are you sitting on a fence right now? I mean this in a symbolic way, not in a literal way. Is it one of those pokey, picket fences or is it just a comfortable post and rail fence that allows you to have one leg on each side? How are you feeling there?

My theory is that there are two kinds of fence straddlers and I’m sure if you don’t agree, I’ll hear about it in emails (which I welcome). There is the one that is terribly uncomfortable straddling the fence. They lean on one side they get poked and it hurts then the lean on the other side getting poked again and it hurts and they struggle to take the leap. They are not comfortable where they are and each time the lean to one side or another they get poked and they want to avoid the pain so they end up feeling stuck.

Then there is the person that is sitting on a fence, who enjoys the view on each side of the fence. From atop the fencepost they get to see both sides of the fence without leaving either one. A “cake and eat it too” situation, however the person is never fully present on either side and lacks the benefit of fully engaging. The other issue with this is that this straddler gets to tell themselves stories of how they are getting the best of both worlds and may not fully comprehend what they are missing and the pain they cause others from their non-committal state. There is a lot of movement in this state but no moving forward so the person feels stuck and stagnant although not totally unhappy they lack that feeling of happiness they are seeking.

Do either of these situations sound familiar? What is holding you back from deciding which side of the fence you want to be on?

How is making no decision a better decision then the wrong one?

“If you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice.”

Neil Peart, Freewill

I don’t mean to trivialize any of these situations. People often find themselves on these fences at the crossroads of pretty important decisions. It is the sheer magnitude of the decision before them that causes the fence to appear in the first place.

I have been through some pretty tough situations myself so I know the depth of thought these take. I am not promoting a big leap here without careful thought, however I am your coach and I will not encourage or allow you to stay there up on a fence – at some point you will become impaled or get splinters where you don’t want splinters!

So how do you move forward when you feel each decision will have strong consequences?

IMG_1997Think

Get honest with yourself, understand what brought you to this situation requiring a decision? Is this something you need to decide for you or is someone else requiring you to make a decision? Remember, there is absolutely no benefit to blame in this stage – or at any stage for that matter – so stay away from that thought process while deeply considering what are the options before you.

Should

While thinking, if the word should comes up, I request that you automatically check in with yourself and find a different reason. If you feel you Should anything, it is not in alignment with you and it is an expectation put onto you by someone or something else. Do not let this feeling of what you “should do” dictate an important decision.

Values

Review your values and how they may play into this decision. If you are deciding based on something outside your values, I’m going to go out on a limb to say you are going to be unhappy with your decision. A good decision will be routed in your value system and you will be able to feel more confident in your choice because of that.

ACT

The final step is to act. Yes, you need to actually act on your decision! If it is a wrong decision, don’t be ashamed to notice and correct, but if you make no decision, everyone loses! If it is the right decision, it won’t necessarily be easy, but there is often a sense of relief after making it. There may be pain that comes from it, or further struggle, but there will be the sense that it is over and the decision has been made and your energy can now be put to use moving forward.

The Relief

I’m not suggesting this is an easy thing to do, however a life lived in indecision or worse yet, drifting for lack of decision is not the abundant life you deserve. I encourage you to live lives that you wish to embrace everything and if this is not the life you are living, make a decision to create that for yourself. You deserve it!

So decide away! And know that you are always just one decision away from whatever you wish for yourself.

-E

Finding your Inner Compass

I remember the day that it all hit me – I really don’t want to do this. It wasn’t until that moment that I could find my clarity. It was in the moment I figured out what I really, viscerally, didn’t want to do, that I could identify better what I did want to do.

It all started when I decided to hire a life coach for myself. I had never done anything quite like this before. Sure I had been to counselors or therapists before at various times in my life, but I didn’t feel like I needed therapy, just help with direction of what did I want to do next in my life.

I was about 40 years old at the time and had raised my children, created a good career, not one that I loved, but I thought, who needs to love what they do? I was good at it and that felt good and it paid well, so it was really good enough. However, good enough was no longer how I wanted to live my life.

I wanted the life I saw Richard Branson living. I wanted to be in love with my job and career as much as he was. I wanted time and space to be able to travel and do the inspired things that made me come alive. I wanted to give my energy to those causes that I felt deeply connected to.

The Flail Before The Fail

So I began to flail – I tried all sorts of ways to make my career more of what I thought I wanted. I created groups, I began speaking at conferences and I found that I was no more happy then I was originally and I realized I was thoroughly stuck!

It was at this point I decided to hire my own life coach to help me figure out how to make my career more fulfilling. It turned out through a couple sessions of chatting and running various tests that my personality and desires did not match what I was doing. No wonder why I could not find a way to make it better! But then where do I go from here?

 

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Ahhh, Direction

After a few more sessions we worked out a direction for me and I must admit I was pretty excited. We developed a plan and a path but the more steps I took, the less excited I became – was this normal? My sessions with my coach ended and I kept moving forward because this was the path my coach and I had decided I should take to get to where I ultimately wanted to end up.

My lack of excitement soon turned to procrastination, then to dread then to pure avoidance of any of the steps on the identified path. In one moment of complete clarity sitting in front of a stack of unopened mail related to my chosen path it hit me.

I Don’t Want To Take This Path!

I don’t wanna take this path, I don’t have to and I’m not gonna! The wash of relief came over me. I just couldn’t go through with the path laid out by me and my coach. I didn’t get any clarity at that moment of how I was going to get to where I wanted, but I sure knew how I wasn’t going to get there and it felt wonderful!

When I took a moment to look at my behaviors, it was completely clear that the path was completely out of alignment with what I truly wanted. The end goal was right on the money, but the path was way off.

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Gut Check

When I thought about the career move I wanted to make I was still excited. When I thought about how to get there I was unsure, but I just felt like I would figure it out because the goal just felt so right for me.

This was a new discovery for me that once I recognized this strong procrastination I was creating, I actually felt I was off balance. Once I recognized the off balance feeling, I could easily identify when that feeling went away and therefore what felt right.

 

I Know This Isn’t It!

I think this takes some time to develop, but it might be more present in your life already than you think. Right now you’re probably reading this article identifying with some part of the story. You know that nagging feeling that says, “I’m not sure what is right, but this isn’t it!” You’ve had those moments when you were not sure how you were going to do something but you just knew you had to move forward on it. Some people call those hunches, intuition, or gut feelings – but whatever you call them, they are there to be heard.

Some Ideas For You

I encourage you to take a moment to review anything you procrastinate. Take a moment to think about why you procrastinate this item. There are many reasons for such a behavior, but this is a good marker and it was a key marker for me.

Another idea you might consider is to review the feelings you have around various decisions you are making. Take some time to journal or meditate or do something active with this decision in mind and listen to where your mind goes, to your body’s reaction, your emotional response. I think you might surprise yourself at the answers that are trying to reveal themselves.

I truly believe we all know what is in alignment for us however, most of us have been taught to ignore what we’re feeling and move forward on our path. Ever see a young child fall down and begin crying? The parental reflex  response is “brush it off, keep going.” Although there might be nothing wrong with that approach sometimes, other times it is worth exploring while you’re down if a different option is better. Sometimes you find your compass while you’re telling yourself to get back up.

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The Key to Success

Just Show Up!

The key to success: Show up and don’t give up. This is it. It is that simple, don’t complicate it by thinking too much!

I have been a runner for almost 10 years. I have challenged myself many times along the way, and at times I have just complacently run along at a pace and distance that were comfortable for me.

I just recently ran my second marathon, I felt better prepared for it than my first because I had one experience under my belt. Although I had read the elevation map this time the hills still took me by surprise. I had read about how flat and fast a course this was, however neglected to remember it was still going to be over 26 miles of running! Of course I knew it intellectually, but I forgot how that feels in the moment.

The First Battle Is Your Mind

 I had a lot of time to think over the seemingly endless miles. There were many times where I was tired or sore and I thought about how much easier it would be if I just stopped. I began to try to figure out how would I get back to the start line to get in my car. Then almost immediately I dismissed the crazy idea; I started a marathon, I would finish it. What helped me through this was that I began to realize how far I had already run and how little was in front of me. I remembered the stories about how many people quit when they are right about to get to where they envisioned. At that point, there was no decision to make but to see it through.

Nope, I don't think so!

I started to see how much my life was like this marathon. I know it’s cliché, “Life is like a marathon” but it’s cliché for a reason. I have been going through my life and career as a 5k runner, occasionally throwing in a 10k. All these races were fine and even a little challenging as I sought to better myself through time and distance, but was I all that I could and wanted to be? Was there something more?

Becoming a Marathoner

Recently I left the corporate world (my 5k & 10k world) and became an entrepreneur (a marathoner). I get up before the sun to line up with many other great people seeking the feeling of self-powered accomplishment. We tackle hills together, some walk, some power up, and some just keep their pace slowly cresting the top. There is almost always a point along the course, or as an entrepreneur, where you question why you are doing this, is it worth it? There is most often a little pain along the way, but we keep moving forward, either slowing our pace or walking if need be. We each face our own challenges along the course, those known and unknown. We have to remind ourselves from time to time how far we’ve come so we don’t give up. The key to those of us that succeed is we just don’t stop, we keep moving forward because for us, there really is no choice but to see it through.

The Success Medal

I believe if we each live our lives as marathoners on our own course, regardless of the distance chosen, we will almost undoubtedly receive our medals. We prepare the best we can, read the maps and signs before we embark while understanding there will likely be unforeseen challenges and obstacles along the way. We power through, slow or walk if we need to but we keep moving forward. Some will get to stand on the podium, but we each receive our medal for our efforts and persistence.

In life success is our medal, some may have a faster pace than others, everyone has their own form and style, but if we just show up to the starting line and don’t give up, we can earn our medal. Where are you on your own course?

Just don't give up!IMG_4192

Why I Left Corporate America

I just made a phone call that most people would tell me was crazy.  I turned down a great job at a wonderful company for a lot of money (please don’t tell my father!)  At this point you’re asking if I’m crazy or just independently wealthy.  I can tell you I’m neither.  Let me walk you through this decision in hopes that it might provide some insight for choices you face in your life.

A couple years before I came out to California I sat down and put some great thought into the question, if I could work at any company, which one would it be and why?  I came up with two corporations, both were chosen for their culture and my perception of their top level leadership.  I wanted to spend some time in a company that I admired to learn from the inside out ideas I would want to incorporate in running my own company some day.

I applied to the companies I had chosen and after a couple years a job opened and I was hired.  It was a wonderful and eye-opening experience and I learned volumes about how they interpreted work/life balance, treated employees, customers and even the competition.  I obtained much of the information I sought while also building my own business in my spare time.  During this year it became clear that my time was becoming increasingly more important to me, and working for a purpose was creating such joy in my life I wanted to do more than I could fit in my schedule while working for a corporation.

The day came for me to leave the admired company and I was immediately courted by another great company, different from the two I originally considered, but a great company nonetheless.  I was not looking to stay in “Corporate America”, but I believed I had to at least consider the option and see if I could continue to fit both a job with them and my own business into my days.  After several interviews and discussions with the company the offer came in at a great figure with incredible benefits.  They offered me everything I could want and more – everything that is except for time.

It is ironic that they actually helped me come to this decision unknowingly.  I was asked by one interviewer, what makes you get out of bed in the morning?  Believe it or not, the answer was not corporate law, it was to make a difference.  In the final discussion I had with the HR representative, it was asked that I consider if my extracurricular activities were where I wanted to direct my life or was I interested in growing my paralegal career?

My final answer is I am building a career out of my extracurricular activities because to me that is the life I want to live.  My someday has arrived. Today, I coach people through life transitions and help entrepreneurs grow their businesses.  I may make tons of money or I may just get by financially, but I know that as I move through my days I am excited to wake up in the morning.  I know that what I do each day is making a difference in the lives of others.  I know that I am able to spend time with people I love and care about because I am not beholden to some corporate schedule.

The decision to follow the path I feel I am called to and to spend my days in the manner which brings me fulfillment is not a safe choice.  I know I am risking not having the backing of a large company with benefits and financial means.  I do believe I am making a contribution to others by coaching more than I ever could as a corporate paralegal.  If I am correct in my beliefs, I will have plenty of money to live my life as I choose and be in charge of my time.  If I’m not right in this choice, I will have spent some time living life as I wished, and I can go back to a 9-5 job knowing that I tried something I felt compelled to do and made a difference in at least a few lives.

I encourage you to take stock in your current situation and review if you might be compromising one thing you value for something of less importance.  I encourage you to ask the question, what makes you get out of bed in the morning and find a way to do more of that.

It's all about the journey!

Choose your path

To Fail Or Not To Fail…Is It Even A Question?

There is so much being written and discussed about failure these days and I find it very conflicting, so I thought I’d chime in with hopes of adding a little ThriveLife perspective to the topic.

There are those who think failure is a good thing and a great learning opportunity, they say, “Fail hard and often – it’s a good thing” or “If you are not failing, you are not trying hard enough.” Those who think failure is overrated as an educational tool – [paraphrased from a Peter Thiel interview] “..we often look at failure as the one thing that didn’t go right, however, it is often the case that something failed for reasons 1 through 5 but only reason number 1 is examined as  to the cause of failure.  Because of this, on your next project, you fail for reason number 2 etc. so people miss the point and lesson of failure.”

Where do I stand on this subject?  You all know I’m a great advocate of risk taking, so you know I have an opinion about failure!

Failure is an end game and I just don’t see things that way.  Failure to me does not exist unless you name it as such and call an end to your attempts or given goal. I’ve done many things that didn’t workout the way I thought they would or should, but they always worked out another way.  Is that failure?  To me, I don’t count that as failure.  I have tried things that didn’t move me forward, and then found I was re-directed to another path that was a better fit for me.  In the end, I still was moving, maybe a little cha-cha for a bit, but then a side slide and moved another step and wa la!  Again, if I called it a failure, at which point would the failure have occurred?  If I didn’t stop working out other routes to the desired result was my time and work to that point failure?  If I don’t stop, simply change course, is that failure or just recalculating?  If one way doesn’t work then that is not a failure in my opinion it is the knowledge needed to try a different way.

I’m not trying to get all sunshine and no rain on you.  It rains, it sure does, and even sometimes it downpours – but is that bad?  As my mentor Tony Robbins says, “things only have the meaning we give them”.  Sometimes the rain gives you some new information that you need to change course or time to evaluate what is going on.  Once the storm passes maybe things look a little different and you find a different path appears.

Until you decide the journey is over, keep moving – sometimes it will be forward, sometimes backwards or sideways – but keep moving.  A GPS cannot redirect you if you never put the car in drive because you are too afraid to get lost or fail.  You only fail by not attempting or by quitting, until then it’s just more information about what does and does not work for you or to reach your given goal.

So go out there and put you life in drive!

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