If you want to know how to get unstuck, you have to be willing to look at how you make decisions.
“Sometimes, the only cost to experience an ecstatic moment is a decision.”
― Dr. Jacinta Mpalyenkana
I selected a corner table in a café off Avenue Montaigne in Paris’s 8th arrondissement. I had spent the morning strolling the upscale, glimmering street, peering into the windows of Dior, Gucci, Prada, Chanel, Versace, and dozens of other boutiques. Each display was an eye-popping work of art, and I had immersed myself in sumptuous design and fashion for hours.
Seated comfortably on the terrace, I had a prime viewing position to watch celebrities and the world’s elite stroll past. “C’est un rêve,” (It is a dream) I said to myself.
I took my journal and pen out of my bag and began listing everything I had achieved over the last 18 months. Next to each accomplishment, I created a column entitled “To what do I attribute my success?” I was looking for a pattern of any kind to gain insight that may help me repeat success going forward.
For the moments when things felt hard, I wanted to be able to remind myself how to get unstuck.
I hopscotched around the list, filling in brief “How I did it” answers until each item was complete. I finished my espresso and settled back in my chair to read my answers, top to bottom.
I had no trouble spotting a pattern.
One after another, my answers were some variation of “I decided.”
- I decided to leave a painful marriage.
- I launched an enterprise with very little cash.
- I chose to invest mightily in my education, training, healing, and self development.
- I decided to dream, look up, and see possibilities everywhere.
- I decided to hire people to whom I could delegate household and business tasks, freeing me to work primarily in my zone of genius.
- I decided to launch online marketing campaigns (even when all the associated tech freaked me out).
- I chose daily habits and rituals that propelled me forward.
Reading over the list, I realized that without knowing it at the time, I had committed to living the art of deliberate decision-making, leaving nonaction and indecision in the dust. Because I had been in crisis in every aspect of my life, I had plowed forward with massive action. I had had no time to dilly dally or ponder or fret over choices.
I had to get going and fast.
I knew that for my future success, I would need to adopt that same mindset of purposeful, focused decision-making, even when (especially when) I had become comfortable with maintaining status quo. I would need to cast aside second guessing, doubt fondling, and endless analysis paralysis, steeped in option weighing.
I would also need to quiet my mind’s fear blurts that announced the thing I was considering doing would be too hard, too expensive, too filled with unknowns, too scary. I wanted to know how to get unstuck on demand.
Deliberate decision-making has a flywheel energy to it. One decision emboldens the next. Creative flow and courage engage in new ways, further propelling us forward. More decisions follow.
How to Get Unstuck
Once we get off stuck and into action, the thing that we had manufactured in our mind as being too steep a hill to climb becomes manageable. That is, when we’ve finally have sat down to do the work, the vast majority of the time it is never as scary or hard as we thought it’d be.
When we stop believing the lie that we have to know the entire series of decisions for a particular goal or course of action (not just the first one), we realize how to get unstuck, release our death grip on certainty and are willing to try.
Warning: that flywheel can also crank backward (if we let fear blurts win the day), spinning us along with it. Stopping us from choosing. Halting our progress. This creates a profound amount of pain as we straddle the chasm of The Before versus The After.
If we find ourselves in a decision-making quagmire riddled with fear, we can ask ourselves the following in order to wriggle out of the funk:
Whom could I ask for help?
What resource(s) do I need?
What might this look like if it were easy?
If I knew how to do this, what would I do?
Next, list the top 3 things you are most proud of accomplishing in your life. To what do you attribute your success? Reverse engineer your moments of decision. The moments you made a choice and stuck with it. The times you didn’t waffle.
The word decide is derived from the following Latin:
de — off
caedere — cut
To decide, therefore, is to cut off (other choices). It is in this removal of options, that our panic response can set in. We tend to forget that we can always make a new decision if the one we made in the past did not pan out, work as we had wanted, and/or take us to the desired outcome.
Please note that this is not a clarion call to burn the boats! We can make choices that powerfully and positively impact our lives while creating a path or runway for the new direction. And we can do this without placing ourselves in peril.
Decisions can be our direct link to our enjoying a rich and joy-filled existence in our personal and business lives. Keystone, deliberate decisions can be scary, but are also our “Get out of Jail Free” card, paving the way for our experiencing the fullness of being alive.
“I want to live a big life. I want to challenge myself. I want to push the boundaries of what’s possible. And I have found that the more things I do that scare me, the bigger life becomes, the more life opens up, the more opportunities present themselves … There’s a liberation in doing the things that scare you.” —Emma Isaacs, Winging It
Let’s choose to lean into the future visions we hold, to take a deep breath, and to decide.