I was in a conversation with a client recently discussing all the things he wanted to do: "Start this organizational initiative, mend and build this relationship, start exercising again, stop eating so much sugar..."
He explained to me how he wanted to do it, the strategies, some of his plans; he had it all mapped out. And then I asked him the magic question...
"Have you decided to do all this?"
"Of course I've decided!" He said, "I wouldn't be talking about it if I wasn't serious."
I'd heard this before. Many times.
I continued... "How many times have you 'decided' to do these things in the past?" (Many times.) "How do these decisions feel in your body?" (The body doesn't lie.)
My client hadn't decided.
The extraordinary thing about effective decision-making is that we have to decide energetically from the inside out. One fine line that distinguishes the people who aim high, leap in, hit the high notes and create the results they want, from the people who drudge along, play it safe and wonder why they aren't moving faster, is the word -- and aligned energy of -- "decide."
A decision is simply the intention and energy behind your word that you're going to do something that propels, motivates and energizes you to move forward.
For years I told myself I was committed to being "successful" and to building a business that created tremendous impact. I told myself this, and I believed it. I got a lot done and created some great impact. It felt good.
But somehow, at the end of every year, I realized there was much more I could have done -- ways I could have taken bigger risks and been more resourceful -- that would have helped me create even more expansive results. I realized that there were parts of myself that were holding back and playing it safe. If you'd asked me if I'd decided to be successful, I would have said "Of course, certainly!" Because I thought I had.
While the more conscious parts of me were designing my own definition of "success" that was aligned with my life and values, other parts of me had only partially decided to dive in; my parts were not aligned.
Unaligned parts create energetic resistance. Energetic resistance stops us short of creating what we say we want.
Big parts say, "Go!" -- and some of our parts say "Whoa!" This hesitation is something to be honored, explored and partnered with -- not pushed through. Sometimes the hesitation is "should" and ego driven and sometimes it's wisdom and intuition speaking. You want to know who's driving what and why.
We make these kinds of decisions everyday. It's not the actual decision that creates stress; it's the fog of indecision that is exhausting. Indecision is often at the heart of "stuck."
To decide is to choose, to conclude, to energetically step in. When you decide, you kill off the option to back out; you close the back door... You go forward. Deciding doesn't guarantee success; it does mean you have a clearer shot at it. And let's not forget that sometimes making the decision NOT to decide is the most powerful call. It still moves you forward, putting you back in the place of personal power and choice.
How do you truly know you've decided to do something, and if not, determine where you might be stuck? If you're not getting what you want or results are not happening, here are a few places to look:
1) Explore your many "parts" and check in with your beliefs.
As mentioned earlier, I'd decided to be successful but underneath there was fear; fear about what it would mean for my family and my role as a mother. I'd told myself, "If I become too successful in business, I'll fail at being the kind of mom I want to be." I feared that if this work grew too much I'd compromise important things in my life. My parts were at war.
Action: Listen to your parts; give them all their "turn" at the table. The part that wants to create impact and take risks, might find alignment with the part that wants to be safe. The part that wants to be a great parent, can find peace with the part that wants to lead great work. Have a "parts meeting" where they all create agreements around boundaries and shared intentions. The gift here is that you have your own internal advisory board; all parts are working on your behalf. Until they're heard and aligned, they will slow you down.
2) Do YOU really want what you say you want?
I've realized that if something isn't happening, there's a reason. Either one's off the path, it's not the right time, they don't have the right information or it's not THEIR vision. Maybe they want it because they think they SHOULD. (Think losing weight, getting healthier, quitting smoking, going to grad school, etc.)
Action: Strip away the layers of "desire," dig for true motivation, shed the extrinsic "shoulds," and get down to the bottom of what you truly want. It's cool, you get to decide.
3) Are you willing to be response-able for creating a great relationship?
One of my friends wanted to have a good relationship with her partner... it had deteriorated, it was painful, she wanted it to be better. After all sorts of "interventions" and doing "all the right things," she was frustrated. She realized she had not truly decided to have a good relationship with him. Even though she "wanted" that healthy relationship, she'd held back, waited for him to make it so, always held that space for failure -- and then felt justified when it failed.
Action: Decide, really decide, to have a good relationship. The other person doesn't even have to know you've decided. This decision will guide what you look for in them, what kind of "evidence" you gather and how you show up. This ripples.
4) Keep saying you want to do something, but you don't do it? You likely have not truly decided.
That thing that's STILL on your to do list and taking up mental space, perhaps offering up a dose of guilt, yet still not getting done?? It's sapping your energy to make real decisions for things you really want.
Action: Ask yourself why this is on your list in the first place? What about this is important? IS this in fact a decision you want to make? And tell yourself the truth. In the case of the client I mentioned at the beginning of this piece, the bottom line was that some of those things he said he wanted to do -- he really didn't. They were "shoulds." Shoulds reap failure and guilt. Once you're tuned in with what you really want, you can make shifts aligned with your desires and energy. From here, true outcomes are born. (Heads up: game changer.)
5) Honor your intuition -- if you don't want to do it, DON'T DO IT.
Bottom line. Listen up. Give yourself permission to opt out. You deserve to make the decisions that empower you, engage you, energize you and make you happy. These are your decisions -- sometimes an intuitive "yes" or "no" -- "just because" is just perfect. Make them, honor them, claim them and take microscopic actions (or big leaps) to implement them.
An authentic energetically aligned decision creates a path to creating sustainable change, experiencing success AND being energized by it. Where do you hold back in decision-making? What's it cost you? What's your next step? Decide.