Are you avoiding making a change because you can’t quite piece together the entire “how”?
It’s human nature to want to know whether doing something or not will “pay off” somehow. When we can’t see this clearly, it really trips us up. Our brain, left to its own devices is good at two things: avoiding pain + seeking pleasure.
Whether it’s by making us feel something or avoid feeling something, this is what drives us all to do anything. It’s human instinct to try to avoid pain and seek pleasure—we’re hard wired for this. It makes sense then that we’re easily tempted to put off making a choice when we’re not able to see clearly whether it will provide us pleasure or help us avoid pain. We prefer certainty. Many people have told me it’s this uncertainty that paralyzes them. They can’t decide because the outcome seems to uncertain. Let’s talk about a few things you can try when you feel like you just can’t decide.
Think About Your Future Self
Try to imagine yourself in the future. Imagine that you already know the outcome of the situation you are currently uncertain about or the answer to the question you’re stuck on. I sometimes ask my clients “if you did know the answer to this question, what would it be?” Here’s an example:
A client had been considering leaving a job she enjoyed but that wasn’t paying her what she wanted to be paid. She had recently interviewed for another position and received an offer for more money than she was currently making. She was having a great deal of difficulty deciding whether or not to accept the offer. She wasn’t certain whether or not this new job would make her “happier” than her current job and she felt very stuck about what to do. She was considering asking her boss at her current job for a raise since this was her reason for looking elsewhere in the first place but something wasn’t feeling right about doing that.
I asked her to project herself into a future where she had already asked her boss for a raise and how the response had impacted her decision. She then considered the impact of both a yes and a no answer on her decision. By doing this she realized that either answer would actually produce the same result. She concluded that even if her boss did agree to pay her the same or even more than the new opportunity, there were other reasons coming up that made her want to move on.
By considering things in this way, she found that this uncertain event actually didn’t affect her next move at all.
What she needed in this case was a specific reason for deciding. This helped her get one. I know, it’s a mind bender.
By projecting an answer, sometimes you can get a better understanding for your possible reasons for possible actions depending on what could happen. This might be enough to help you move forward with your plans. Give it try and let me know what happens.
Embrace a Beginner Mindset
“In the beginner’s mind are many possibilities, in the expert’s mind there are few”.
It’s so important to recognize the value of being a beginner. Sometimes there is a great deal of value in the perspectives only seen through innocence and naiveté. Experience generally informs us that there’s a particular way of how things ‘should be done’ even when better solutions may exist. Having a ‘don’t know mindset’ can trigger innovation without the baggage of history.
There Can be Power in Not Knowing
Not being an “expert” or having all the answers ahead of time can actually prove immensely valuable at times. I find this in my own practice as a Career Counselling “generalist”. I can often guide my clients to see creative solutions to problems by providing a sense of a beginner’s mind rather than only focusing on how things “have always been done” in their particular profession. Having high level knowledge of how things are done in many professions rather than intimate knowledge of only one, means I am more removed and can highlight a different perspective.
I also see the more negative impact of “expertise” fairly frequently in the way many former HR Specialists turned Career Coaches provide guidance to job seekers and career changers. Their perspective gained from many years as an “expert” on the hiring end of the process, although valuable, can lend itself to a more black and white approach than what I encourage in my practice.
By challenging “how things have always been done” and embracing a bit more of the creative, unknown, or off the beaten path perspectives you just might find something far more valuable than a simple 5-day, 10-step, “hack” or “how” to get where you want to go.
Let me know your thoughts! Find me over on Instagram or if you want to talk more, set up a time to chat!