Okay, okay! I derived the headline from one of my favorite Yoda quotes. And why not? Yoda is my favorite Star Wars character, and his impeccable wisdom makes the little green, pointy-eared guy a force to be reckoned with. Sorry, I couldn’t resist.
I’m using Yoda’s same logic to address a common issue that I hear from clients: being stuck. While I empathize with the feeling, I don’t give in to the emotion. My typical response goes something like this.
You are not stuck. You’re just holding yourself back from making a decision, from choosing a path.
— sheila callaham (@SheilaCallaham) June 11, 2015
Clients don’t like hearing that they are the problem. But as their coach, it’s my job to call them on their stuff. What’s important is that they think about why they are holding themselves back.
Five decision-making blockers and what to do about them
- Fear of making a mistake: This is the number one reason my clients struggle with moving forward. It takes real courage to chase your ideal life, but once you muster the will to take the first step, you are well on your way. Start by acknowledging the fear, then ask yourself, “What am I really afraid of?” You are your first line of defense on your road to happiness, but don’t play it safe just because you’re afraid of making a misstep. There is no mistake in gaining valuable experience that allows you to hone your strategy. You are the gatekeeper to any future you choose. You decide if you move forward with your dream or let it fall by the wayside. Those doubts you hear, the naysaying, the self-destructive talk is just your mind telling you to play it safe! Ego doesn’t want to feel bruised! The next time your voice of doubt (ego) speaks up… shift to a higher perspective. Tell yourself that you are qualified, you are valuable, and you are worthy… and that you CAN do it!
- Trying to please everyone: Personal happiness comes from within, not without. Trying to please everyone is not only impossible, it sucks away your personal joy. That’s why you have to make this life journey about what feels right to you. If the path you’re on was laid out for you by someone else, chances are you will never be happy. It’s vital to delineate clearly what you want and why that desire is important. The why is the emotional attachment you have to the goal. Releasing yourself from the expectations of others (either real or perceived) and making decisions that reflect your sense of self, will enable you to experience a sudden sense of relief and freedom. That newfound freedom will allow you to focus — sometimes for the first time since your childhood — on what YOU want.
- Not asking for help or input when needed: There are lots of ways to seek input and support, including family, friends, mentors, and life coaches. In my book, The Power of Living Joyfully: Setting and Achieving Goals that Enrich Your Life, I go into detail about how to set up a personal board of directors to help you stay the course. If you prefer working one-on-one with an unbiased perspective, a life coach could be a great option as well. Whether you call it life coaching, success coaching, or personal coaching, one thing is clear — lots of people are turning to coaches to help them recharge their personal and work lives.
- Overwhelm from all the options available: There are times when you come to a junction that requires a decision. Sometimes there are lots of options, and often clients get “stuck” because they feel uncertainty about “what to do next.” My favorite tool for helping clients work through multiple options is to have them visualize walking down each path. I ask them lots of questions about how that path feels, who they see around them, and how it feels to be there. After visualizing each option, I ask which experience resonates most with the client. That’s inner wisdom pointing the way!
- Holding on the past experiences: The past can be haunting if you allow it — failed relationships, bad business decisions, trusting someone unworthy of trust. This fear often keeps you looking over your shoulder, always on guard for the past creeping up to derail you. If resistance is too much for you to manage, practice positive processes for dealing with negative feelings. When you live your life looking over your shoulder fearing the past, you can’t see the opportunities right in front of you! When you feel stuck because your mind is in the past, do this exercise. Stand up, and physically turn 180 degrees to face the opposite direction. Remind yourself that you are moving into the future, not clinging to the past. Repeat until your brain understand that you mean business.
Five key insights about decision-making
- Know what you truly want; meaning, what you want, not what others want for you. If you know what you want then you are never stuck; rather, you are always on the path toward what you seek. Sometimes you may travel more slowly than at other times, but you will always be progressing because you remain focused on the destination.
- When you contemplate a decision ask yourself, “Am I running away from something or am I running toward something?” If you are running away from something, you are making a decision out of fear. If you are running toward something you are making a decision out of desire. That decision represents you standing firm in who you are and what you want, fully empowered, fully believing in potentiality. You must always choose what you truly desire.
- Embrace the unknown. When you make decisions, you don’t know what the outcome will be in the long run, and that can make some people anxious. Here’s the deal: the way you view the future impacts how you experience it. Change can be scary if you choose to see it that way. Or change can be AMAZING! The quote by Robin Sharma sums it up.
As you move outside your comfort zone, what was once the unknown and frightening becomes your new normal.
- Practice gratitude to shift yourself into a positive mindset. When you feel positive about life, then you are more willing to move forward with confidence and excitement. Rejoice that you are in the process of creating positive change in your life.
- Be patient with yourself — life is a process! Once you know what you want, you’re usually in a big hurry to get to get it. Because there is a complex system of universal order, it takes time for all the cogs and wheels to get in the right position to deliver what you desire. Think of it as a period of gestation — a holding pattern until everything is in its rightful place!
Want more inspiration?
My friend Minette Riordan wrote Feeling Stuck? 3 Poems to Inspire Action. It’s a great piece to inspire you to take the next step.
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