BREAK FREE BLOG
A passionate motivational speaker and life coach with a new reality-based, no-nonsense approach, Terry Taylor is the designer of a unique strategy for reaching your goals and loving your life. Creator of the CD program, 8 Steps For Reclaiming Your Life, and author of the upcoming book, This Is Your Life: No Apology Needed, her mission is to help you to break free from conflict, confusion and the control of others so you can go after your goals guilt-free, with confidence and joy.
AUGUST’S BREAK FREE TIP is about how to choose when you can’t decide between choices – so you can avoid procrastination and keep moving forward with your life.
In a Bind over Making Up Your Mind?
When it comes to making decisions, by this time in your life you’ve become an “old pro.” And you’ve gotten pretty good at choosing between a healthy and a harmful alternative.
But sometimes your choices can be between two things that seem equally wonderful. If you could have both – or if you could find a better alternative – then you wouldn’t have to make such a tough choice. But time, energy and other constraints don’t always give you such an easy “out.”
When two exciting options seem to be of equal value to you, how do you keep from being paralyzed by your confusion over which one to choose?
In order to make an intelligent decision about any specific area of your life, you first have to identify some general things about yourself and identify the choices you are actually facing.
HERE’S HOW TO GET STARTED:
Step 1: Set the STAGE for your decisions – by highlighting the most important thing to you for your overall life. Here your answer can be very general: “I want to stay alive,” “I want to feel fulfilled,” “I want to make a difference.” For me, “I want to love living my life.”
Your answer to this first step is your fundamental choice and overall goal for your life. It sets the stage for your answers to everything else, from how you spend your time and money to the kind of work you pursue and the kind of people you associate with. When I’m faced with a decision, I ask myself which choice will most enable me to love living my life. Sometimes whatseemed “equally good” is actually not equal – because one choice measures up to my overall goal better than the other.
Step 2: Establish the MOTIVATION for your decisions – by highlighting the specific things that excite you the most. Your overall goal for your life is not enough to help you make specific decisions. You need to know what specifically will enable you to “stay alive,” or “feel fulfilled,” or “make a difference.” (And I need to know what kinds of things will enable me “to love living my life.”)
Besides identifying what it takes to keep yourself physically alive, you’ll need to identify what keeps you motivated. What makes you feel most emotionally alive? What kinds of things do you most like to do, what kinds of surroundings most inspire you, what kinds of people do you most enjoy being with? My early love for dancing grew into a desire to express my love for life through my dancing, singing and writing. I also discovered that I wanted a romantic relationship that magnified both my and my partner’s joy in living.
I’ve been able to use these “most exciting things” to keep me motivated and to guide and shape the choices I’ve made every day of my adult life. Whenever I’m faced with a decision, I ask myself, “Which choice will help me most to express my love for life and to honor my romantic relationship? You will ask the same thing about what makes you feel most alive. Again, I often discover that what once seemed “equally good” turns out to be “not so equally good” in the way it measures up.
Step 3: Put the spotlight on your CONFLICT – by highlighting the choices you feel torn between. Remember, you are the star of your own life and the choices you make are going to write your story. Name and describe the choices that are contending for your favor. When I was a sixth-grader, I remember agonizing over my choice between two pairs of shoes: I liked one pair for its looks and the other pair for its comfort. My conflict was having to choose “Pretty Shoes” OR “Comfortable Shoes” because I wanted “Pretty Shoes” AND “Comfortable Shoes. Finding another pair that satisfied both my sense of comfort and my sense of beauty would have “saved the day.” But Mother said I had to choose one or the other because it was time to go home. This complicated things by adding another factor to my conflict: “No New Shoes.” How to choose?
Step 4: “TRY OUT” the rival alternatives – by spotlighting what you like about each of them. Then look them over once again. Given your time, energy and other constraints, which one will serve you best on the “Stage” you set for your life? In the case of my shoes, I imagined the pros and cons of walking across the stage with “Pretty Shoes, “Comfortable Shoes,” and “No New Shoes.” Which would fit best with my overall goal to love living my life?
NOW YOU ARE READY TO MAKE YOUR DECISION. You have two options:
- OPTION ONE — CHOOSE EITHER ALTERNATIVE WITH NO FURTHER DELAY. If, after your assessment of the alternatives along with your time, energy, and other constraints, either alternative could “fill the bill and star in your show” there is no further decision to make. It doesn’t matter which one you choose if they are equally wonderful to you. In my shoe situation, I decided that I needed new shoes for my growing feet and – because there was no time to look for a third pair that satisfied both needs – I chose “Comfortable Shoes.”
- OPTION TWO – CHOOSE TO CHOOSE NEITHER. If you think it would be in your best interest to seek an even better alternative, see if there is some way you can modify your time, energy, or other constraints so you can choose to seek a better alternative or go on to something else. When I couldn’t choose between two wonderful men whom I loved, a friend suggested that I keep exploring other relationships until I met a man who topped the two I was torn over. And that is how I finally met the man of my dreams! In the case of the shoes, as an adult I could have chosen to take time to shop at several stores until I found shoes that were comfortable and good looking!
TWO HELPFUL REMINDERS
BE WILLING TO MAKE MISTAKES and HARBOR NO REGRETS. After my shoe decision I remember tossing and turning all night with regret over not choosing “Pretty Shoes.” But looking back on my decision, I feel good for having been able to make a sensible choice within my time constraints.
Be gentle and patient with yourself. Recognize that you are not born with ready-made knowledge of how to live, but you are born with a marvelous mind to figure things out. You build your knowledge gradually – and mistakes can be your best teachers. In your desire to be “right” you must realize that you can only make your decisions in the light of your best understanding at the time. Sometimes you have to make quick decisions (and sometimes you make decisions after much conscientious deliberation) that you end up later regretting. That’s because “later” you have more information with which to make a wiser decision!
Your life is an exciting adventure. With every decision you make,you discover something more about yourself. As you gain perspective, the specific things that excite you – and even your overall goal for your life – can change. As you discover more and more about what is most valuable for your life, you increase your chances of living the kind of life you want.
Happy month of August – and here’s to your making your decisions with confidence and care so you can love living your life!
I’d love to hear how these steps work for you — feel free to email me at Terry@YourRecipeForLivingCoach.com, or post a comment on my Break Free Blog at www.YourRecipeForLivingCoach.com. Please know that you are welcome to share this BREAK FREE TIP via social media or email.
Note: To learn more about making confident decisions, read This Is Your Life: No Apology Needed, now available at Amazon as an eBook. Also available as a paperback or CD at my website, www.YourRecipeForLivingCoach.com.