Are You Making the Right Decisions?
[Note: I wrote this article because a lot of people had been asking me for tips and help in this area -- it's something most of us are usually challenged with in general.]
Did you know that a busy person is not necessarily a productive person? Spending the day responding to fire drills may leave you with the same To-Do list in your head as the one you had when you woke up. Responding to the immediate or common – or even simple or safe – options may lead you to barely accomplish what you really want to achieve in the first place. To complicate things, our fears and emotions enter to sabotage our judgment. Use your time and your energy wisely and make the right decisions up front.
I had a client who was impressively on top of the massive pile of tasks on her plate and had an active social life. She was even pretty good at keeping a workout regimen in there. To manage such a feat, I figured she must be taking care of herself otherwise I couldn’t imagine how it could be sustainable. But, she admitted that she was extremely tired and feeling worn out.
When I asked what could help her improve physically, she thought for a while and decided, “I sometimes skip my workout, so I’ll just wake up earlier in the morning to hit the gym.”
Does that sound like something you’d say? Maybe not to do it earlier, but somehow more. Most experts will tell you that routine exercise can give you more energy and help you beat the stress, and that being in shape means you’re healthy. Often I’d agree… but not this time.
Underlying it was actually a hidden fear to take a step back, even if it’s needed in order to go forward. Most of us are afraid to drop the ball on something. Or we worry that people will think we’re slacking, or that we let them down. Surprisingly, some even fear finding out that we actually have been going the wrong way all along — sometimes we’d rather not know and keep going! None of us like the feeling that we’ve lost time.
So, back to my client — What would happen if she woke up earlier to hit the gym? Her body’s screaming for rest and she’s gonna rest it less and work it harder. On the other hand, what could happen if she allowed herself to step back and prioritize her health? For one week, I asked her to commit to doing ONLY one major activity per day outside of work (responsibly prioritizing her approaching deadlines) and to actively find ways to be refreshed with her new “free” time. She was noticeably uncomfortable, but thoughtful, and expressed being afraid that something would drop and people would be upset, or that she’d miss out on something interesting… after a very long pause, she decided to make the commitment.
What happened? I’ll never forget — a week later when I saw her, she had THE biggest smile… and it went on for the next FOUR weeks. She felt renewed, joyful, and was more energized to tackle that mound of “stuff” awaiting her each day. She was amazed that nothing “dropped” and utterly surprised that people barely noticed! She was sharper, even able to have better perspective to prioritize that mound. In fact, it actually shrunk!
This wasn’t even at the core of our coaching “agenda,” but it was something that greatly impacted her bigger decisions and freed her to pursue them. There are so many decisions to be made, and some are much harder to discern, like: Do I look for a more meaningful job when I have a mortgage to pay? Do I stay in this relationship because it’s “right” on paper? What if I make a change and things turn out worse? What if I end up all alone?
Be careful not to problem-solve the obvious and totally miss what’s underlying. Learn how to address these fears and obstacles that keep us from making the right decisions. Of all the different things I coach on, I love this topic because it’s so practical, and people noticeably become more peaceful and clear about their decisions.
As the hustle and bustle of Fall picks up, I hope you’ll actively evaluate your choices and decision-making so you’ll steward yourself and your resources better and move in the right direction for your life.
Enjoy the sunshine before the long hours of daylight slowly creep away!