Life is about choices. My life is spent helping people make difficult decisions:
Should I quit and go it alone?
Should I take the promotion, can I really do that?
Should I leave him/her?
Should I travel?
Should I change?
Should I give up?
Should I fight on?
Am I an idiot for wanting this?
Are they right that I should quit?
The list is endless. However, the reminders you need to actually do something different to make your life more harmonious, fun and exciting often are very similar.
Let’s take 7 real client’s stories and explore what we did. These amazing ideas could revolutionize your life too as we look at how to make better life choices and spot the big mistakes that people make so often that detrimentally damage their lives – sometimes for years!
*All the names have been changed and even if the situation doesn’t apply to you, the reminders to enable you to make big decisions definitely will.
Annie is a high flying very successful businesswoman, she has been used to achieving everything she has ever wanted to and, if she goes for something, she gets it. She is epic and I loved working with Annie. Annie came to me because Annie seemed to have everything.
An awesome career, more money that it was likely she could spend in her lifetime, an amazing life partner, beautiful children, dream home, dream car, dream body, dream holidays (lots of them!) and every designer hanging in her designer wardrobes. She had everything so she must have been mega happy right?
Annie didn’t know why but she felt someone had extinguished the fire in her life. She felt soulless, she felt like she was just going through the motions but couldn’t really remember the last time she had felt so alive and like anything was possible.
Originally when we spoke, Annie felt she was having some kind of life crisis and could be bordering on depression. But as I coached her, the reality was very different.
She hated her job. She didn’t just hate it, she loathed it and the look on her face when she realized this was utter shock. “But it’s given me so much,” she said, “how can I hate it?”
Annie’s story gives us reminders that can help you too.
If Annie hadn’t taken the time to step back from her life, I think we could have ended up with someone who was mentally unwell. They were so good at getting on with achieving they’d not stepped back to check that they were even on the right path!
Action For You
Once in a while, wherever you are in life, take the time to either sit with pen and paper or be alone on a walk or somewhere quiet and ask yourself some questions.
Da Vinci reportedly would ask 100’s of questions of himself. Not necessarily answer his own questions but pose them for consideration. I often do this with clients because it enables you to get past the initial surface thoughts to access the deep-rooted ideas that are really causing the issues/obstacles and beliefs that are holding you back.
Ask yourself questions like these:
- What do I love about my job?
- What do I love about my life?
- Do I love living here?
- Do I feel like I make enough time for me and what do I like to do with my time?
- If I was to write down the emotions I experience each week, would I describe them as mostly positive, mostly negative or a balance of both? What impacts on that?
- How do I respond to criticism?
- Am I good at telling people what I think?
- What do I feel holds me back?
- What would I love to achieve but fear doing and why do I feel I fear it?
The more questions you can ask the better. Remember this is not about knowing the answers or answering according to what you know or trust you can do, so be honest with yourself.
Annie also teaches us not to fear changing paths.
Let’s meet Tanya….
Tanya had her own business and while it was going pretty well, she wanted more. She also wanted to buy her first house but that was feeling too far away. When her partner left her, she felt like life was falling apart, how could this have happened to her?
When I initially met Tanya, she sounded like a victim. We all go through really tough experiences but, not everyone is resilient enough to learn from it and move on to bigger and better things. Some people let it define them forever more and initially, that’s just how Tanya sounded.
Tanya felt like life was unfair, no life is fair and to hold on to that belief is limiting in so many ways. It stops you from believing you have any control.
While you can’t control everything that happens, you can control many elements. Don’t relinquish all control believing life will happen in one way only – like it was pre-mapped out for you. You get to define who you are and what you want.
Tanya struggled at first to get past this belief. That life had treated her in a bad way because she was only capable of getting what she was getting. Breaking down that deep-rooted belief was not easier, but we did it. How?
Action For You
Challenge yourself to ask if your beliefs serve you well or hinder your success and happiness.
Are your beliefs keeping you comfortably in a comfort zone so that you don’t have to face what it is your fear?
Or do your beliefs challenge you to go for things even if you fear them a little?
Challenging Tanya on her beliefs helped her to see, acknowledge and accept what her beliefs were doing to her. Once she could see, acknowledge and accept her beliefs and their impact, then she was in a position to take responsibility for them and change. You can’t change permanently until you go through this process.
This led Tanya to another very important reminder for us all. Changing paths is allowed. If you liked being a teacher or a graphic designer and now want to be a Police Officer or a journalist, that’s fine. It is scary to make changes and choose a different path but to help you actually do this, remember this question:
“If I agree to staying like this, then what am I agreeing to?”
It’s so powerful I use it on myself too!
Often, clients realize with this question that they are agreeing to not getting what they want – and no one wants that, so it’s a great motivator.
You don’t need to know how you are going to achieve it, but you do need to know you want to do it.
Tom was everyone’s friend. Tom could make a friend just buying a pint of milk, he’s Mr. Likeable. But Tom came to me because he hated who he was. He told me “Everyone thinks I’m great but I feel like a complete imposter.” He was really low and it was impacting his work and home life.
Tom shares a very important reminder to making decisions in life. Tom had been so intent on helping everyone else to feel comfortable and happy around him that he’d forgotten how to be comfortable with who he was. He was so concerned with making everyone happy that he felt he didn’t even know how to be confrontational.
I asked him if he wanted to be confrontational and wasn’t that quite a “full on” term to use? And this enabled Tom to see that having an opinion is not illegal. Even more shocking to him (and Tom is not alone here!) is that you can have an opinion different to other people.
Action For You
If you think you are confident to be yourself and share what you really think, post an unpopular opinion on social media (not an offensive, derogatory comment, just something you don’t like.) I did this recently (I’m happy to connect so that when you give this a go, you can tag me) and asked people to share their unpopular opinions.
I just posted that I don’t like a certain cookery programme that airs here in the UK – The Great British Bake Off. I just don’t get why you’d watch a bunch of people mixing up ingredients to make a cake and then watch 3 hyper critical judges tell you your cake has a soggy bottom. While my post had lots of likes, laughs and loves, not even a quarter of people that liked the post commented. What does this tell you and what has this to do with Tom?
Within a week of that post wherever I went someone would say “I saw that post, my unpopular view is…..” I asked all of these people “Why didn’t you post your view on my post?” To which I heard replies like:
- “I didn’t want to offend anyone.
- “I can’t post like you do.”
- “It’s not appropriate to do that.”
- “It could damage my reputation.”
- “You know what people are like.”
Headline news folks, saying you don’t like Christmas jumpers or Elvis is not against the law. While some may not agree with you, ultimately, nice humans accept that with billions of people on the planet, we aren’t going to agree on everything.
Action For You
Ask yourself if you can’t share your dislike for your mate’s favourite TV show, how are you going to have the confidence to tell people about the big decisions you are facing in life?
Tom learned that he had stopped having an opinion on anything, anywhere. Becoming aware of this enabled Tom to work on his confidence and that changed his life.
This simple step enabled Tom to not only be honest and share his views, it built his confidence and led to a promotion. Wherever Tom went, he told me people couldn’t get over how happy and confident Tom seemed. What could this reminder do for you?
Maja didn’t choose to come and have coaching with me, her boss asked her to. At first, Maja was against coaching and kept postponing our sessions. Understandably really, because her boss had told her (and me) that he felt she was amazing and could be on the board of directors despite her young age within 5 years. But her lack of confidence was wrecking her career and he wanted to help her overcome it.
Maja was also a people pleaser like Tom but at least Tom talked to people. Maja couldn’t make eye contact and looked like a frightened mouse wherever she went.
What does confidence have to do with decisions in life? Confidence creates belief in yourself and that creates faith and that creates trust and that creates positive results (even if you get negative results first because you’ve got the confidence, self-belief and trust that you can go on to get better results.)
Building Maja’s confidence did work, and she quickly went from receptionist to company secretary and the last I heard from Maja, her boss was encouraging her to sit in on board meetings in preparation for the future!
So what did we do?
The short answer is we bridged the gap between what she believed to be true and what was actually true. When you lack confidence, you don’t believe the nice things people say about you. Guess what that does to your confidence?
Action For You
Creating a long list of all the things you’ve achieved and that people say about you enables you to learn to trust that information, rather than the negative voices in your head.
If those voices in your head do not inspire, motivate, nurture, love and care for you, then ditch them!
It is not always instant getting rid of those negative voices but, it can be achieved.
Tina had married young and produced 3 children within 4 years. The children were all working their way through school and Tina had more time on her hands than she really wanted.
In the back of her mind, she had always wanted to run her own business. Something that fitted in around children, that made her feel useful and gave her money. When she told her husband, he’d reacted in the same way to most of her friends. They all felt it was a lot of hassle. She had no skills in running a business, so how would she cope, wouldn’t it be stressful? Would the kids feel neglected?
The list of concerns her loved ones had was long and it undermined her so much she had procrastinated for over 2 years on her idea, until she met me.
Tina was easily influenced by those around her. And stopped listening to herself. Do I think she could have moved forward had it not been for our coaching sessions? No, not really. She put off creating a plan of action because everyone else had a say on her future and she feared putting her ideas into action. And everyone around her could have wrapped her up in their words for years.
Action For You
In my experience, people need to spend less time looking back at what has happened and spend more time planning where they want to go.
We created a long list of everything that could need to be done to set up Tina’s business, then we broke that down into a time line to enable them to see the priorities.
So many people try to get to the end of a to do list not appreciating there will always be something new on the to do list.
It’s not about clearing the to do list, it’s about owning it. And to do that, you need to have a clearly defined plan. Consider everything you could do to make that difficult decision or powerful life choice and then, narrow that down to the absolute priorities.
Do not deviate and lastly, only ever have 3 to 5 actions on your to do list. Clear them and you can add the next 3 to 5.
Tina didn’t just set up her own business, it went from kitchen table to her own offices with staff within 2 years! Spend less time looking back and wondering, and more time focusing on what you really want and creating the plan to get you there.
And lastly just to mix it up a bit, meet Kim who I didn’t coach.
Kim phoned me because life was all over the place. She felt like she was trapped at a cross roads that had turned into a giant hamster wheel that was on fire – a pretty detailed analogy right?
But that’s what they felt. As we chatted about what she wanted to achieve, Kim told me about some of the things that were going on her life – abuse, deaths, divorce, redundancy – it was a long list and would make any decisions tough.
Action For You
I asked Kim this question and I’d love you to ask this question of yourself too;
“Is now the right time to do something new/different?”
This enabled Kim to see that there was not the brain space to work on her future. She was doing well to survive! Learn to know when to take action and when to stop.
I read about 2 Israeli judges who were assessed on their ability to make tough decisions. If the judges received their allotted breaks, then the average number of people that were put forward for parole was on average of what was expected and deemed acceptable. However, if they missed their breaks and had to work through their ability to think, great decisions reduced to zero! 0% of people getting parole because a judge didn’t get a break!
So when you feel overwhelmed, stressed and like life is completely uncontrollable and horrific. Is it really the right time to make decisions?
Take Kim’s example again. I didn’t coach her at that time because I felt she was borderline in need of a counsellor but I did offer to be her friend and confidante. Someone she could just message and say “this happened today” or “today was a good day/bad day.”
Who in your world can you rely on to just be there for you? No opinion, no judgement, not advice. Just to be there.
Find those people now because we all need times when we just purge and don’t learn. Feeling like that is not a bad thing as long as it is cathartic and moves you forward.
Within 6 months, me and Kim did get to work together, but it was when she had the space to talk, take ownership, create a plan of action and have the dedication, motivation and energy to achieve it.
So, always be nice to yourself.
No matter what you face in life, these reminders will be able to help you too just like these 7 clients. You’ll make better life choices and find the best possible solution for you. Here’s a recap:
- Take the time to ask lots of questions.
- Don’t fear changing paths.
- Challenge yourself to ask if your beliefs serve you well or hinder your success and happiness.
- Are your beliefs keeping you comfortably in a comfort zone?
- Do your beliefs challenge you to go for things even if you fear them?
- Can you confidently and comfortably share an unpopular opinion?
- Are you a people pleaser at your own detriment?
- Create a list of the evidence of all that you’ve achieved and the positives that people say about you.
- Create a long list of everything you could do, then create a plan of action, create a timeline to ensure you don’t try and take on too much at once. Only have 3 to 5 things on your to do list.
- Check in with yourself if now is the right time to be thinking and doing something new or different.
- Remember that sometimes, the best action is inaction.
More Tips for Making Decisions in Life
- 7 Ways to Make Life Changing Decisions
- How To Make Life’s Hardest Decisions
- 12 Things You Should Remember When Feeling Lost in Life
Featured photo credit: Wil Stewart via unsplash.com