If you’d asked me that question a year ago, I’d have sighed deeply and thought about all the circumstances in my life that were out of my control. That was the reason I couldn’t have the life I wanted.
Then a funny thing happened, they all got stripped away.
I was living alone, completely alone for the first time and all the excuses were gone. No kids to care for. No spouse to work around. It was the cat and I.
And I still wasn’t doing the things.
It was a shitty place to be and it was made all the shittier by the realization that the only person holding me back was me.
I wasn’t deciding. I wasn’t deciding what I wanted to do. I wasn’t deciding who I wanted to be. I was wallowing in indecision for a thousand really good reasons… but even though the reasons were really good, was it helping me to stay stuck in indecision??
This whole situation was made all the more ironic because of the book I’d just finished writing, “How Do You Like Your Eggs” which is all about making decisions. I actually say in my book, “all the suffering is on the side of indecision”
I was right.
As I’ve waded through these last months, I’ve had to face some hard things. I’ve faced regret. I’ve faced sorrow. I’ve faced loss. I’ve grieved a life that hasn’t turned out the way I planned.
But the most difficult of all was the suffering that comes from fear. And I discovered that fear is a weed. A weed with roots. Those roots are indecision. Once you decide, there’s nothing stopping you from pulling that weed out. When you allow yourself to stay stuck. To not decide. To not take action – the weed grows and grows and grows. It feels impossible to pull out. But fear is a shallow growing weed. Once you decide, it’s easy to pull the entire thing out.
When I won’t decide what to do next, fear grows out of control. All the options stay open. The fear spreads. It’s insane.
Once I decide, I cut off the roots. I say, “this is the way I’m going” and the only thing left to do is keep moving.
But what the hell is it that we’re even afraid of?
- Fear of Fucking Up (Fear of making the wrong decision). Ugh. We’ve all felt this one. When you’re standing at the fork in the road of your own life, believing that one way is right and one way is wrong is the surest way to find yourself stuck. We turn what is actually a thousand small decisions into one large decision. We create an all or nothing decision – and then wonder why we aren’t willing to make it.
If you aren’t ready for the idea that maybe there is no one ‘right’ decision and no one ‘wrong’ decision, would you be willing to just make the next best decision?
I’ve been living this way for months now. I can’t see the big picture. I don’t have all the answers. If I could’ve sprinkled fairy dust and fixed everything, I’d have done it by now. I’m fresh out of fairy dust. I’m tired. I’m overwhelmed.
So instead of making all the decisions for the next 5 years, I’m just making the next best decision for me. One decision at a time. One day at a time. Stepping one inch forward and testing the ground. Repeat. I’ve noticed that the fork in the road isn’t that wide at first. I could probably cross over or find a new route if I need to. Hell, I could probably double back.
The point. Not deciding is a decision. Not making a decision out of fear that it’s the wrong decision IS the worst decision. You never get any closer to figuring out what works that way.
- Fear of Pissing People Off (upsetting people). This is where we lose focus on ourselves. As women, we’re taught to keep an outward focus. We’re taught to put our children first, our spouses first, our extended families first, anyone and anything but ourselves. That outward focus leads to people-pleasing. People pleasing means we consider everyone else’s thoughts and feelings before our own… and that’s why I wrote, “How Do You Like Your Eggs” because if you do that long enough, eventually you won’t even know how you like to eat your eggs for breakfast… but I digress.
What if you couldn’t upset anyone else? What if their reaction to what you did or didn’t do wasn’t your responsibility? What if you could make the best decision possible – such an amazing decision that Oprah invited you to meet her, Dolly created a charity in your name and the Pope canonized you – and someone was unhappy with you. You see it’s possible. You can be the ripest, juiciest peach in the world and some people still don’t like peaches.
Start by acknowledging what you’d do if there was absolutely no one else to consider. If no one’s feelings would be hurt, I’d skip Easter this year. Then really think about it. Is it your responsibility to make sure that there is an Easter dinner? What if you didn’t do it this one time? I mean, you could always do it again next year. What do you like doing at Easter? Making baskets. Okay – I made baskets for a few people that were important to me. And I’m dodging the rest. I’m literally not going anywhere or talking to anyone all day. Doing Holidays isn’t best for me right now. And that’s okay. It’s best for me.
The point? Start with at least telling yourself the truth. Once you’ve done that, you can decide just how far you want to take it. There’s no wrong decision (see #1).
- FOMO (Fear of Missing Out). FOMO sounds like a joke. And sometimes it is. We justify our behavior by saying, “I have FOMO.” We try to keep all our options open just in case something better comes along or we realize we wanted something else. Here’s the real truth about FOMO. Not deciding is deciding. Not choosing because you’re going to miss out means you’re missing out. It also means that you never really get clear on what you really, really want (has anyone heard the Spice Girls/Disturbed mashup??? If you’re trying to make a decision this is a great background track, just saying.) If you never get clear on what you really want, you never get what you really want.
In our guts we know this is true. We know that choosing one thing means not choosing another. We’re fearing the emotion of regret… like we can’t handle wishing we’d chosen the Butterfinger bar over the Reese Cups. We can. And sometimes you don’t know what you really, really want until you’ve done the thing you think you want and figure out that, nope, it’s not what you wanted.
I have this awesome part time gig where I sell designer handbags. Talk about getting to watch decision-making in action! I always tell my clients to try on the bags, to walk with them, to throw your phone/wallet/keys inside and see if it really works for them. Sometimes just putting a bag on their shoulders helps people decide. They notice the bag hangs too low, the strap is too small or too large and it cuts into their neck. Making another decision then becomes easier because now you know more about what you don’t want. Being willing to pick the wrong bag in the store means that you’re more likely to love the bag you bought when you get home.
You will absolutely miss out if you stay afraid of missing out. Guaranteed.
This is where I get honest, life has seriously kicked my ass lately. I had to wander around in the land of indecision. I had to get all too familiar with my desire to please people and make everyone happy (which contributed to the ass kicking I’ve had). I’ve stood at the fork and not known what to do.
But when I saw that I wasn’t living the life I wanted to – and there was no one left to blame I had to own that it was my own indecision… my own fears that were keeping me stuck.
If you’re not living the life you want right now, let’s get on a call and talk. We’ll figure out what the next best step for you is so you can tell fear to go fuck itself, too. And maybe… have what you want, what you really, really want. (Thanks Spice Girls!)