Throughout my work as a coach, it has become apparent to me that there are a number of reasons why we don’t spend time thinking about the life we want, let alone getting round to making it happen.
People of course have many individual reasons, but there are also some very clear themes that I often hear people saying, these include:
- I don’t know what I love to do, I never really ask myself the question
- I don’t have time to think about it
- I’m OK as I am
- Now’s not the right time
I think we often avoid asking the questions of ‘what do I want?’ and ‘what do I love to do?’ through fear of what we might say. It’s as though we believe that if we say it out loud, or write it down, somehow we’ll only end up being disappointed. Disappointed because we’re not where we want to be or disappointed because of a seemingly inherent scepticism that it’s just not possible to do what we love, and that anyone who has achieved this is the exception to the rule.
So before we have even given any ideas a chance to surface we’re batting them back down.
What I see is that people get caught up in a struggle between wanting to change because they’re not fulfilled, but not being unhappy enough to make the change. Jim Collins described this best when he said that good is the enemy of great. I think we can often aim and settle for just surviving, rather than consider the possibility of thriving.
It all comes down to a perception of the risk versus the reward. Making a change is often seen as a high risk, and then because of our belief that it probably won’t work out anyway, we see very little reward for taking that risk. So although the current situation may be offering quite a low reward, it is also providing a low risk which means more often than not, we sadly stay where we are, yet feel stuck and unfulfilled.
Ultimately what I believe really stops us from living the life we want comes down to two key things:
- We’re not specific enough in what we want (we don’t design our lives)
- We don’t trust in ourselves to make it happen
Taking risks is about being able to deal with uncertainty. From what I have seen, those who deal best with uncertain times are the people who back themselves. They definitely don’t know all the answers, but they trust that whatever happens they will find a way to make it work. Richard Branson is a great example of this. His trust in himself, together with the belief his family has in him, are hugely apparent throughout his autobiography.
However we don’t all start off with this kind of trust and belief in ourselves, and to be honest a few years ago I couldn’t have dealt with the uncertainty of life as a freelance coach. But now I can, and ironically I didn’t develop the confidence to deal with whatever came along until I took the risk to live this sort of life; the leap came before the confidence!
So what helped me to leap then? Well I got specific and designed my life. I wrote down exactly what my ideal day would look like, how I would feel, who I would work with, what I would be doing, how much money I would be earning and what steps I needed to take to get there.
Getting specific and breaking the goal down into smaller manageable tasks made it feel far more possible. So instead of thinking about the enormity of leaving to set up my own business, I would focus on what needed doing that day. This could have been anything from writing an email to someone I wanted to connect with, to identifying how much money I needed to save to fund the time whilst I built up the business. Then before I knew it, the next task was to hand in my resignation and walk out the door.
So what can you do today, no in fact, what can you do right now that’s a manageable task and can take you one step closer to where you want to be? Maybe it’s as simple as taking 10 minutes now to think about what you want?
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