Are you happy with your life direction?
It’s a question most people land on at some point in their lives.
Whether you’re not completely sold on the career path you’re heading down, or you’ve lost your usual zest for things that once brought enthusiasm, it’s common to question your choices.
Sometimes key life changes or differing circumstances trigger you to question what you’re doing. Sometimes you look around and see other people who seem to be comparatively happier, or more successful. You wonder, "Have I taken the wrong path?"
The tricky thing is that the answers to those tough questions take some introspection. No one can give you the answers, but we can look at a few aspects of the human condition that can help you reach your own important insights.
We can look at how our innate biases impact your decision about what to do next.
Any time is a good time to set and manage goals, but the beginning of a new year is often a trigger for people to assess where they’re heading.
We’ve all heard of “New Year’s resolutions,” perhaps you’ve even set some yourself. How successful were you in achieving them? The numbers for people “falling off the wagon” are telling - around 80% of resolutions have failed by February.
We know that the secret to making resolutions stick is not to make resolutions at all. Why? Resolutions tend to be ill-defined ideas such as “lose weight” or “work out more often.” They fail because there are no clear parameters, steps, or measurable outputs. The human brain is wired to prefer the same old routine, so it’s difficult to get results without a good plan.
Goal-setting is much more effective, particularly if those goals are clearly defined. Visualizing your way to those goals is a strategy that has been proven to be...
Have you ever reached a point where you just feel “stuck”?
It doesn’t matter what you do or how your frame it, things that used to excite you just don’t spin your wheels anymore. Perhaps you feel like you’ve reached a sort of crossroads.
What if I told you that you may be experiencing a clash with your personal values? This is very common - perhaps you’re working in a job that doesn’t fulfill your values, or maybe your values have changed over time.
When you just can’t muster the energy and enthusiasm you once had, when you’re missing the joy certain things once held, it’s important to stop and evaluate. Sometimes the feelings you get can be associated with depression or anxiety. On the other hand, sometimes feeling stuck can be a trigger for depression too. Evaluate carefully and always seek help where needed.
Here’s why values matter when it comes to feeling fulfilled:
Here’s the thing about putting off your important decision…
Not deciding is a decision.
As long as you realize that, and you’re okay with that, then I guess you’re okay. Just don’t fool yourself into thinking you’re making a wiser decision by repeatedly kicking the can a little farther down the road.
It’s kind of like what I tell people about relationships. “Your relationship is like a plant. It’s always either growing or dying. It’s never just staying the same.”
If you have dreams to chase, a better life to pursue, or things you need to make right, don’t fall into the trap of thinking you’ll do it “someday.” Or else you’ll end up like the people interviewed by Bronnie Ware, a palliative nurse who spoke with dying patients about their top regrets.
Want to know the number one regret of the dying that kept coming up over and over again?
Here it is:
“I wish I’d had the courage...
I have a secret.
It’s one simple question that gets more “results” than any of the other sophisticated techniques I use with my coaching clients.
Would you like to know the secret question? Ok, here it is…
“How do you want to feel?”
When all the deciding is done, and you’re busy taking action on the new life-direction you’ve chosen, how do you want to feel?
Why is this question so powerful?
Well, it’s simple, really. You see, gaining clarity about how you want to feel is more important than anything else.
It’s more important than figuring out which job will earn you more money next year. Or which house is going to appreciate more over the next 15 years.
It’s more important than analyzing your aptitude for the business idea you might leave your job to pursue. And it matters more than the odds of success in one relationship or another.
All of those factors are...
If you have ever wrestled with a big decision, this will be familiar to you…
After thinking about it for days, you have a sudden insight. You feel fairly certain about the course you should take. It feels like a weight has been lifted off your shoulders. But then…
You wake up the next morning and your insight from the day prior no longer seems that significant. Or you see a hole in your original thinking on the matter. The weight of the decision comes crashing back down on you.
This same pattern repeats itself over and over.
After several weeks, you no longer trust those moments of certainty. You take them with a grain of salt, knowing in a different mood or after a bit of reflection, there’s a good chance you’ll be back to square one.
This is a common experience that reflects uncertainty about the risks involved, uncertainty about the factors that matter most, and the effect of your changing moods.
Let’s get one thing straight.
Feeling anxious about a big life decision is perfectly normal.
The fact that you feel anxious is an indication of your intelligence. Because the more intelligent a person is, the more likely he or she will put considerable thought into mental simulations of the future.
And when the future is difficult to see, you are faced with a form of blindness you’re not accustomed to. As an intelligent person, projecting your mind into the future is second nature to you.
Yet the complexity of the modern world, coupled with decisions that involve multiple unpredictable variables, can create uncertainty. It’s as if one of the main senses you use to navigate the world is suddenly missing.
So you feel anxious.
Here are just a few of the ways decision anxiety can manifest:
To make decisions, we run mental simulations of the future.
The better you get at that skill, the more likely you are to get what you want.
While that sounds simple, mental simulation is a marvelous form of power. And generating complex models of the future, for decision-making, is one of the most impressive feats of the human mind.
Would you like to get better at it?
Here’s the first step for improving this skill. Acknowledge its difficulty. Come to terms with the fact that this is one mental skill worthy of receiving your deliberate attention.
As a psychologist, I have seen firsthand that intelligent decision-making is more important than IQ when it comes to finding relationship success, happiness, business success, physical health, and financial peace of mind.
And I’m not the only one who considers good decision making to be among the most potent forms of intelligence. The famous theoretical physicist, Michio Kaku makes the case in his book, The Future of the Mind. He...