Solved Challenge: 5 steps to take to gain clarity and take the right decision for you

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Dear Chris,

Let’s recall your challenge first:

Arriving mid-career, I’m feeling uninspired and unmotivated and ready to move on professionally and location wise with nothing that ties me here.

How do I get past the fear of comfort and on deciding which option would be best…..either taking a sabbatical to travel, find a similar job somewhere else or create my own business?

My passions are travel (to discover cultures and landscapes) and being creative (I am currently a product designer)…all while being my best in the present moment & job too!

Overcoming fear

It seems that you have already come up with a few ideas of what you could do next. The main part of the challenge seems to be the dilemma of how to overcome fear and choose the right option.

There is only one person in this world that knows which option is the best one for you. It is of course you. But in order to be able to find that answer, you need to do some inner work first.

We would like to offer you a 5 steps process that will support you through the work of self-discovery, dealing with your fear & going for what you want in life.

In the first two steps, you’ll be opening up and seeking clarity, which will help you align with your life purpose or a long-term vision. One thing that can happen in this process is that you’ll enable your creativity & resourcefulness and you’ll discover a completely new solution, one that hasn’t come up before.

Then we’ll provide you with an understanding of what fear is and how to deal with it so that it doesn’t stop you from moving on in your life. The last few steps will be about making up your mind and going for it.

The 5-step process to gain clarity and overcome fear

Step 1: Open up & seek clarity
Step 2: Go through all your options
Step 3: Work with your fear
Step 4: Select your option & make a plan
Step 5: Get ready & Go for it

Step 1: Open up & seek clarity

Life purpose

Best decisions are the ones aligned with your life purpose or your long-term vision. You already do have some options, but you are not sure which one to choose.

In order to be able to select the right solution for you, you need to create some space, open up and seek clarity.

Observe yourself

One way to do this is by taking time to observe yourself and noting down which activities bring you joy and motivation. It is a simple exercise, where you switch on your mindfulness and your “inner observer” and for a few days you note down every activity that gives you that sparkle of excitement and inspire you to do more. That is a very important step of gathering information about yourself.

Imagine the best version of yourself

Another way to gain some clarity is to get comfortable, set a good amount of time and imagine yourself in a world with no limitations. There is no fear, no money issues, no pressure. You can do & feel anything you want. Imagine your absolutely favorite scenario. Envision yourself in 5 years and answer those three questions: 

Where are you? 

What do you do? 

What do you have?

If you sense that you are limiting yourself, or simply are unable to set yourself free, imagine that you are shooting your favorite movie. And that main character can do what he/ she really wants to do. Where is he/ she? What is he/ she doing? What does he/ she have?

You can also try the following

Other ways to open up and seek clarity could be to do some journaling, especially free flow writing. Wake up in the morning, and before your brain starts attacking you with the thoughts, start writing whatever comes to you. Allow a totally free and unlimited flow.

Moreover, if you are keen on meditation, it is known to be a wonderful way to obtain clarity.

No matter which method you choose, ask the question that is the most vivid for you at the moment: What should I do next? Which option should I choose?

And allow the answer to come to you.

With those mindful and imaginative activities, you’re gathering plenty of invaluable information. In the next option, we’ll discuss what to do with it.

Step 2: Go through all your options

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Use your inner resourcefulness

You have already come up with some options before sending your challenge to us. Now that you’ve opened-up and used your mindfulness and imagination, it is a great time to use your resourcefulness and creativity to see how you can use that information to generate some more options.

All the ideas are good, even the craziest and most unrealistic ones. The purpose here is to open up to solutions that you have been overlooking due to your own limitations, for example, fear. Write all the options down.

The “feeling” and “thinking” part of you

Now we’ll touch upon the decision-making process. Some of us are more prone to taking the decisions based on what our gut tells us, while others base them on a solid & pragmatic analysis. The best conclusions are the ones that offer the right balance of the “feeling” and “thinking” part of you. 

Take a piece of paper with all your options noted. Now read them out loud and write down the first reaction as you hear them. What’s the emotion? Fear? Excitement? Make sure to note it down.

You have just noted down your first intuitive response. Now we’ll move on to the thinking part. This exercise is more time consuming, so you may want to select only a few most attractive options. Write them down and start working with pros & cons of going for each of those options. If you feel like it, you can prioritize them (more here look at step 2)

Are you gaining some clarity? Are you having the favorite option coming up to You? Before you take your final decision, we’d like you to take a look at the next step.

Step 3: Work with your fear

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Why do we feel fear?

Fear is a natural component of taking decisions. It’s a reaction that happens in our bodies which can be measured (e.g. faster heartbeat) and is well explained as a fight, flight or freeze response.Then, depending on our personalities & experiences, a complex chain of processes makes us respond to fear with a variety of different feelings and behaviours.

Fear has been really needed in human evolution. It has helped keep our ancestors safe. So acknowledge that fear in some situations in necessary. However, it is a good idea to ask yourself a question: is changing your life path, getting another job or setting your own business really a life-threatening situation? It may not be, but just because you are moving into the unknown your brain goes DANGER! And the fear is present for you, it may be so present that it is stopping you from moving on.

Worst Case Scenario

If your fear is not deeply rooted and not too strong, it may be enough to work with the worst case scenario.  All you need to do is to answer the question: What is the worst thing that can happen?Note down your answer.

Now write down what will you do if that happens? You can do that exercise for each of your pre-selected options. That simple exercise will show you that every situation has a way out. That may be enough for you to be able to take your decision.

However, if your fear is deeper or stronger, you may need to do more inner work and learn how to control the fear before it controls you. 

Learn how to feel the fear

So one way to overcome your fear is to learn how to feel it and move on with your life (feel the fear and do it anyway). You can tame your fear by realizing what it actually is. Fear is just a vibration in your body. It’s not going to kill you, yet we are afraid to feel the fear as if it was going to kill us.

Allow yourself to feel the fear. How does it feel physically? Is it a squeeze in your stomach? A heaviness in your chest? Try to play with it. Can you make it smaller? Can you make it bigger? Use your imagination. Can you imagine that you can gather all your fear into a ball? Yes? Then throw it out of the window. This requires practice, but you will come to a point where you see that you do control your fear. 

Another extremely important aspect is to compare the “pain” of fear with the “pain” of staying where you are in your life. Is it really so much worse to feel the fear than to be miserable, uninspired & unmotivated to move on?

Step 4: Select your option & make a plan

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Which Option to choose?

Now that you’ve worked with your fear and you see that it’s not all that scary… which option will you choose?

Still not sure? Then do the first steps of the process again. No-one said you only need to do that once, and that 15 minutes is enough. Discovering what to do and making a life-changing decision might be a journey. Especially the part of seeking clarity, mindfully noting down all the activities that bring joy & excitement and learning how to use that information to select your favorite option may take some time.

The piano of purpose may not fall on you… yet

The important thing here is that you may not be able to find all your answers in one go. That doesn’t mean though that you should put your life on hold, stay where you are and wait for “the piano of purpose to fall down on your head as you walk” (if you don’t get what a piano of purpose is, have a look here at Brendon Burchard’s post. You can also listen to our podcast to find out more ). 

Most of us need to experiment, try the different things out before we obtain the certainty that we are doing things that are aligned with our higher purpose. It may happen that for the time being, you are selecting your first step on that journey.

But whenever you are ready to move on make a damn good plan! 

As you’re making your plan, it is a good idea to have a close look at your current reality. What might stop you from doing what you really want to do? Which strengths do you have to help you on your journey? What will you do if you fail on some of your actions? (your “plan b”, or fallback plan)

Step 5: Get ready & Go for it

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Get Ready…

So now that you have selected your option and made a plan, it’s time to go for it. 
Gather up all your courage, prepare what needs to be in place and just do it. Even if what you have decided for now is to stay where you are and learn more. Still go for it all in, set the time aside for your mindful observation, be at your best. Commit to yourself. 

… and Go for it!

When you have decided to go for a big change, go for it ALL IN. It is your life and you are your own boss, so commit to making it happen as if you were indeed committing to your boss :). 

The most important thing is to concentrate on “WHAT” you want to achieve and be willing to try many different “HOWs” out, in case things don’t go as planned. As long as you treat failure as “F.A.I.L.” (First attempt in learning) and you open up to taking all the learning and trying something else out, you will succeed eventually.

Summary

Good luck Chris, we’d love to hear back from you. It’s a great journey that you are embarking on! Self-discovery and gaining clarity is a life-long process and both our life purpose, as well as the long-term vision may change over time. But switching on your creativity and resourcefulness and committing to observing yourself mindfully, are the best things you can do in order to be living the life at your best.

Anna & Marta