Wednesday, 26 February 2014

Ever Felt Stuck? Rediscover The Power of Choice.

Several years ago, I was discussing my day with my husband.  It had been a tough one.  Again.

Usually he took the role of "listening wall" - be there, absorb, don't flinch - except this time he stopped me part way through my tale and offered me this:

"You can choose your emotional response to what's happening. You are choosing to be unhappy about it.  Why not choose a different response?"

I didn't take this too well.  Choose my response? What choice did I have? This was my job.  It was my livelihood. I was expected to just get on with it wasn't I?  I felt "stuck" with my lot and quite powerless to change it.

The thing is, he was spot on.  I had been so busy blaming other things - my director, the company culture, the unfairness of the whole situation - I had forgotten that I had a choice.  In fact, a number of choices.  Some may have been unpalatable (just quit), some may have been scary (plan to leave) and some were plain wild (quit, sell the house and travel around the world) but they were available to me.

No longer the victim of circumstance, I was back in charge of my own life.  Phew!

Feeling "stuck" is not pleasant.  It's uncomfortable, smothering, claustrophobic even.  Sometimes we confuse being "stuck" with feeling secure.  Do you find yourself saying "I have a job, I should be happy/grateful"? Notice the "should"?  That's a red flag word.  So, if you think you might be stuck, here are four tips to get back in charge of your choices.

1. Acknowledge you DO have choices.

Thinking about, writing down or speaking about choices does NOT mean you are making that choice.  We too often shut down the possibilities available to us because we fear that thinking about them will cause trouble:
We catastrophise: I don't dare to think about leaving my job because I might then lose my house, wife, family.
We molly coddle:  I don't dare to think about having a job that I love which pays me a great salary because I might be disappointed
We presume: I don't dare think about moving to somewhere else because my wife/children/parents will hate it
These are all excuses. Allow yourself to imagine, to think, to create.  Sometimes the most enlightening ideas come from a seemingly "impossible" choice.

2. Recognise HOW you make choices.

Typically we either Think, Feel or Know when we make choices.  Thinkers lead with logic, practicality and facts.  Feelers will often ask others opinions, be led by emotions, will create stories or images about the potential outcomes.  Knowers will decide fairly quickly and independently, without always being able to explain why they've made that choice.
Naturally, we don't use just one of these approaches.  In fact, it is really powerful to harness all three.  To recognise how you make choices, think back to the best decision you've ever made.  What brought you to that decision?
Having trouble making a decision? Perhaps you're ignoring what your lead factor is telling you?  For instance, we often turn to our Think factor if our instinct (Know) is saying something scary!

3. Make POWERFUL choices

Our values are a core part of who we are and what makes us happy.  When faced with a choice, your values will make the answers much clearer and simpler.  Your choice will either be true to one or more of your values or will ignore them/go against them.
If you're not sure of your values, answer this "Success in my life means......." and then for each part of your response follow up with "Which means that...." until you get to the source of what is most important to you.  NB this will not be money or time.  Dig past that to get to the real stuff.

4. Choice = change

Change is inevitable.  Even if you stay as still as you can, everything around you is changing all the time.  And you can't control it all, no matter how hard you try.  Every choice comes with a risk.  The "what if...." factor.  And that's OK.  Don't be afraid of the "What if".  Just as in point 1. thinking about it doesn't make it happen.  Work it through.  Think about what you would do "if" your choice didn't work out the way you wanted it to.  What could you do now to mitigate it or minimise the impact?
And if, after all that, you don't change anything, that's OK too.  Choosing NOT to do something is still a choice and by making that choice, you have started a change in and around you.
My favourite saying when I'm deliberating choices is "Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway" from Susan Jeffers book of the same name.  I've never read the book.  For me, the title is enough to jolt me out of my procrastination.

If you'd like to know more about how you can make powerful choices, contact me to arrange a chemistry call.