As a Coach, I tend to help people break through BLOCKS in how they think. And there’s no bigger block than when it comes to difficult decisions or CHOICE. My clients tend to suffer from one of three afflictions: 1) Their mind is blank… they have nothing to choose from because nothing comes to mind at all; 2) They feel they have too many choices and they are afraid they will make the wrong choice; or 3) they are limited to one choice… and they don’t like this choice. I thought I would spend today’s blog post talking about what you can do regardless of which CHOICE challenges afflict you.
I have noticed this affliction in people of high-moral conviction. They feel they were destined for greatness in some way; and they are discouraged that they fail to see their specific purpose in life. They put such a high burden on their vocation, their life-partner, or their kids, they see almost everything as FLAWED in some way. These folks feel like their life must have some purpose that fits them like a glove. Since most things don’t fit them like a glove, they feel like they will continue to be lost; and never find their true purpose.
If this challenge afflicts you, I encourage you to follow this 5-step process:
- Gratefulness: Reflect on your life and simply pick 5 things that you are genuinely grateful for in your life. I don’t care how crappy you think your life is, you can find many more than five things. But you must start this exercise with a spirit of gratefulness.
- Elements of Happiness: Next create a list of at least 5 things that make you happy. If it is happiness in a vocation; or a relationship; or anything, just list them out as things that make you happy. Don’t judge whether you can achieve them or not.
- Visioning: Now do a visioning exercise. A visioning exercise is ether writing down or saying out loud, what you will be doing at some point in the future that makes you happy. It may be your job; your relationship or anything that you choose. Now ask yourself to list ten things that had to happen to lead to this happy situation.
- Baby Steps: Us humans are very impatient. It often takes multiple baby-steps for us to realize a grand vision. Please write down ten major steps that will need to happen in order for you to realize your vision. This is kind of like Step #3.
- First Step: Now list the very next step you need to make in your life in order to start down the road to accomplish your vision. Don’t think about the second or third steps. Just focus on this first step.
This exercise is intended to get you to focus on the JOURNEY instead of stressing about picking a PERFECT DIRECTION. As many old and wise people will tell you, it’s the JOURNEY; and not the OBJECTIVE that is important. Also remember, that you cannot make a MISTAKE!
Too Many Choices
Most people who are faced with ‘Too Many Choices’ are afraid they will make the wrong decisions. I will usually coach my clients that there is ‘no wrong decision’. I ask, “If you knew that whatever you chose, it would work out better than you could have ever hoped, what decision would you make?” They still think their gut may be lying to them in some way. This will normally occur when ‘the world’ wants them to pick one thing, but ‘their spirit’ wants them to pick something else. They feel like if they pick ‘the world’s’ choice, it will be smarter and more practical; and if they pick ‘their spirit’s choice’, they will be making a stupid choice. This will typically come up when a teenager is trying to pick a career. Their parents try to get them to pick engineering, accounting, law or something which is guaranteed to make them enough money to pay back their student loans. And the teenager has a dream of becoming a rock star, an artist or a famous actor.
Us coaches have ways of helping our clients make choices when they are faced with several choices. But our tools are merely trickery. What ends up happening is that our clients will choose what they wanted to choose all along; but they will end up rationalizing and feeling confident about their choice. You see? It’s more about confidence and commitment; than it is about the choice itself. If a teenager chooses to be a rock star; and is COMMITTED to investing in this dream, they will become the best rock star the world has ever known. Likewise, if they choose to be an accountant; and don’t apply themselves to this vocation, they will be a lousy accountant.
If this choice challenge afflicts you, create a logical scoring system with pros and cons and make a decision. Then COMMIT to the decision you’ve made.
As a Core Energy Coach, I recognize seven levels of Energy that tend to help or hurt our ability to make decisions.
- Level 1 is “I lose” with a core thought of Victim
- Level 2 is “I win, you lose” with a core thought of Conflict
- Level 3 is “I win” with a core thought of Responsibility
- Level 4 is “You win” with a core thought of Serving
- Level 5 is “Win, win” with a core thought of Opportunity
- Level 6 is “Everyone wins” with a core thought of Synergy
- Level 7 is “Winning and losing don’t matter” with a core thought of Non-Judgment
Let’s say that you are a high school graduate and your parents claim they will only pay for your tuition, if you major in mechanical engineering. Here is what ‘climbing the ladder’ looks like with this decision:
- Level 1 – “I can only do Mechanical Engineering, and I HATE engineering”
- Level 2 – “I’ll show my stupid parents, I’ll do something else just to spite them”
- Level 3 – “I’ll major in mechanical engineering and find a way to be successful in engineering and like it”
- Level 4 – “My parents have worked hard to pay for my college, I’ll be a good engineer to make them happy”
- Level 5 – “I’m curious to see what’s driving my parents investment in Mechanical Engineering. If we talk about it, I’ll bet I can convince them to invest in my business management career.”
- Level 6 – “How can my future vocation benefit my community?”
- Level 7 – “It’s wonderful to be is such an amazing position at the forefront of my education and career with unlimited options in front of me”
‘Climbing the Ladder’ allows you to understand that you can decide to reside at anyone of these energy levels. And you can self-analyze which level you ultimately make your decision. If you feel like you have no choice, you are residing at Level 1… and will be miserable regardless of the choice you make. If you make a choice at Level 5, you engage in life and with others to make the best choice for you both.
As a business coach, I help my clients make choices. If you are struggling with a choice as a business owner, write a quick note in the contact section below. I’d love to help.
Note from the Author
My name is Jeff Schuster. I am a certified Life and Business Coach serving small business owners, corporate executives and others who want to transition from “expert” to “entrepreneur”. I have been a small business owner for most of my 30-years in the workplace. I grew an energy efficiency and renewable energy engineering and construction company from nothing to over $10-million/year and sold it in 2013. I now help other business owners make amazing progress toward their own dreams of business ownership independence and success.