How to Make Decisions That Will Help You Get What You Want

There’s a saying that goes something like this: To get something you’ve never had, you’ve got to do something you’ve never done. That’s absolutely true but I would argue that there’s a lot more to it than that. You’ve also got to think differently than you’ve been thinking, believe differently than you’ve been believing, and make decisions differently than you’ve made them in the past.

Decisions are really just thoughts and beliefs combined with action (or sometimes inaction).

To get different results, it’s worth taking a look at how you’re currently making your decisions.

Decision-Making From Your Past Versus From Your Future 

Once we have established ourselves in our careers, the most obvious way to make decisions is to look backwards, at what has worked or not worked in the past.  

The problem with this method is that it can be incredibly limiting when we’re trying to create something new or different. Making decisions as the person you have been, instead of the person you want to be, can leave you feeling clueless about what to do next.

Thankfully, there’s an alternative. It requires a little bit of imagination and also being open to the possibility that you can achieve what you want. It also requires using the uniquely human part of your brain that is called the prefrontal cortex. It’s what allows you to envision something that does not yet exist, create a plan, and then take action to move you forward.

Go To The Place Where You Already Have Your Desired Result 

The key to getting what you want is making decisions as the person who has already achieved your desired results.

Imagine already having exactly what you want.  

Imagine having the job, house, money, or book deal that you want.

Imagine being calm, confident, collected, organized–or however you wish you were showing up in your life.

Imagine actually being that person.  Inhabit that space for a while in your mind.  What would your days be like? What would your weeks be like?

Then ask that version of yourself:  What should I do next to get closer to that result?  

Would that version of you tell you to watch Netflix or work on your manuscript? Does she want you to avoid looking for a new job or commit to finding something you’ll love? Does she want you to avoid looking at your finances or finally take control of them?

Belief Comes Before Results 

Stepping into that next version of yourself requires you to adopt a new belief system about what’s possible for you and then take action from that place, not from where you are now.

I had a client who wanted to present her research at conferences in her field, but she was terrified of public speaking.  She had presented her ideas to peers before at conferences and had one experience of freezing up on stage that had made her want to avoid repeating the experience.  She was making the decision to avoid taking action because she was convinced that she wouldn’t be able to handle another experience like that.

But part of her knew that she didn’t want to spend the rest of her career hiding.  She had ideas and research that she wanted to share.  And she realized that not sharing was not doing anyone any favors. It was not helping others in her field or patients who could benefit from her research. And it definitely was not helping her to have the career she wanted.

During a coaching session, I invited her to step into her Future Self, the part of her that already knows how to successfully present her ideas.  What would her Future Self tell her to do?  

The answer was clear and unequivocal: “Apply to present at the conferences.  Put your work out there and share it with the world.”  This felt terrifying to her primitive brain, the part of her that wanted to stay safe from potential criticism.

But with some coaching and learning to manage her mind, she learned that she could handle the discomfort of putting herself and her work “out there”.  She allowed herself to feel the discomfort of being in the spotlight. She learned that she could do hard things and that it was worth it to create that results that she wanted.  

Had she made the decision based on her past, she would’ve stayed safe in her comfort zone.  But making the decision as her Future Self gave her what she needed to move forward.  

Try It Out For Yourself

Imagine yourself three years into the future.

What would your Future Self want you to start doing today? What would she want you to stop doing? What would she want you to continue doing?

When you’re at the store and thinking about splurging on a new outfit, imagine having that same outfit hanging in your closet three years from now. Is your Future Self glad that you bought it?

When you’re feeling unhappy at your current job and deciding whether to start a job search, imagine yourself three years from now, having a job that energizes you. Is you Future Self glad that you invested in yourself instead of staying with the status quo?

What does your Future Self want you to believe about what’s possible for your life?

Take her advice. Those actions and beliefs are the key to getting from where you are to where you want to be.

Have a beautiful week.

XO,

Charise 

P.S. If you’re struggling with making decisions from your past instead of from your future, I’d love to help you get unstuck and start moving forward. I offer free strategy calls to help you figure out how to get from where you are to where you want to be. I have only a few spots for these calls each week, so schedule yours here.

How To Know If You’re Growing

Growth sounds like a nice, positive, wonderful thing that we should all do, both personally and professionally.  

But the truth is, growth usually feels really uncomfortable.  Even terrible.  That’s because it requires us to stretch and keep moving past what we know to what we don’t know. It requires that we persevere despite fear, doubt, and uncertainty.  And it requires that we continue to try things even when we have no evidence that we can achieve them. 

Opportunities For Growth Are Everywhere

Although we might think of growth opportunities as those big, pivotal moments in your life and career, sometimes tiny, seemingly insignificant choices that we make can change our growth trajectory or can give us the momentum we need to get unstuck and start growing.  

When I moved to Spain in September, I had such a moment in a parking garage.  Driving here in general presented several challenges for me.  The traffic lanes inexplicably merge without warning.  Left-hand turns are a veritable free-for-all, with people passing you on the left and right when (in theory) you’re in a single turn lane.  You have to change lanes (and therefore look backwards) while driving in circles.  But I dreaded the parking garages the most.  

Spanish parking garage engineers are cruel individuals.  In an effort to fit in as many spaces as possible, they make postage-stamp-sized parking spaces and the narrowest tunnels and steepest ramps you can imagine.  And the worst is that they give you virtually zero space to maneuver into the tiny parking spaces.  

When I first started driving in Spain, I had an errand that required parking in a particularly small parking garage. It would have been easy enough to come up with a way to avoid it altogether.  I could have taken a bus or taxi.  But I was committed to learning how to drive here, so I drove into the garage and was presented with a particularly tiny spot between two columns and to access it, I would need to park in reverse (without a camera).  I had all kinds of negative thoughts about it: “I can’t do this!  I don’t know how!  I’ve never had to do this before!  How can anyone park in these insanely small spaces?”  These thoughts created the feeling of helplessness, which made me want to give up and go home.

That moment was not a moment of growth. It was a moment of being stuck.  

But at the same time that I was feeling stuck, I also really wanted to learn how to park in that space, so that I could face any parking garage in the city.  And to do that, I was going to have to switch my mindset.

So, I coached myself through it.  I reminded myself: “I’ve done new things before.  I can figure this out.  I can do hard things.”  These thoughts created the feelings of motivation and determination, which drove me to figure it out.  I was slow parking the car.  I had to get out to check how much space I had.  But I parked the car without swiping any columns or bumping into anything.

And then, I began parking in spaces like that over and over.  Now, it’s almost easy.  

It could be tempting to dismiss seemingly insignificant moments of growth like this one.  But consider that growth begets more growth, so even a small moment of growth can provide evidence that you’re capable of growing in bigger ways, too.  

Embrace The Growing Pains

We want growth to be easy and when it’s not, we often stop, telling ourselves “I just can’t do that.”  But growth is not supposed to be easy or comfortable.  Accepting the inevitable discomfort of growth allows you to keep going.  There is ease on the other side of growth if you push through it.  

To know whether you’re growing, ask yourself:  

  • Am I trying something new that feels difficult? 
  • Do I feel uncomfortable attempting something new, but continue taking action anyway?   
  • Do I have a goal that I’m pursuing even if I sometimes fail along the way?

If the answer to any of those questions is “yes,” you’re growing.  If that’s where you find yourself, keep going!  Allowing the inevitable discomfort of growth is what allows you to reap the benefits of that later.

If the answer to those questions is “no,” it’s either because you’re not stretching yourself to try something new at all or you started trying but then got stuck.  If this is where you find yourself, pay attention to your thoughts.  What are you telling yourself that setbacks mean about you and your ability to do this?  Are you telling yourself that you just can’t?  

Growth Requires Positive Thoughts 

Since our thoughts create our feelings and our feelings drive our actions, we can’t take positive action from negative thinking.  Berating yourself for not knowing how to do something doesn’t work.  Negative thoughts are make us feel stuck, not motivated.  Only positive thoughts (that we actually believe) can propel us to move forward and grow.  

Growth Makes Life Better 

I don’t want to suggest that we should always be growing in every moment.  Sometimes we just want to enjoy the ease of our current comfort zone.  For example, there is still considerable room for improvement in my driving in Spain. I avoid the incredibly narrow streets in the center of the city completely. I’m sure that my neighbors find it amusing that I park right in the middle of the two parking spaces that we’re allotted in our parking garage at home, because we only have one car here and it’s faster and easier to park that way.

But life is better when we live mostly in growth mode.  By choosing growth instead of comfort, we ultimately expand our comfort zone and find ourselves doing more than we knew we could.  Yes, it’s painful, difficult, and uncomfortable.  But it’s so worth it.  

Go forth and grow!  

XO,

Charise

Believing New Things

There is a saying that if you want something you’ve never had, you’ve got to do something you’ve never done.  It’s absolutely true.  Our actions (or sometimes lack thereof) are what create our results in life.

But to do something you’ve never done before, you’ve also got to believe that you can do it.  You’ve got to believe even though you don’t have any evidence to prove that you actually can do it.  This is where we get stuck, because our brains like to have evidence.  But when you’re trying to do something new, by definition, you won’t have any evidence yet.  You’ve got to believe you can do it before the evidence exists.

What Is A Belief?  

A belief is just a thought that you keep on thinking.  If you want to change your beliefs, you’ve got to look at your current thoughts.

To get something you’ve never had, you’ll have to think different thoughts than you’ve ever hadYou’ll have to believe differently than you’ve ever believed.

How Beliefs Trigger Action 

The process of deliberately thinking new thoughts and creating new beliefs is by far the most important component of changing your behavior and your results. 

We’re not taught this in school.  We’re taught to just do it.  And if we don’t feel motivated enough to take action, we think that something must be wrong with us or that we’re inherently lazy.

This is why learning how your brain works is so powerful.  Your feelings are what drive your actions.  And your thoughts and beliefs create your feelings.  Whenever you’re not taking action, there is always some underlying thought or belief that is the cause.

It is only when you uncover the underlying thoughts and beliefs that you can change them.

What Do You Believe Now? 

The first step to creating a new belief is to understand what your current thoughts and beliefs are.  Write them down.  Do a thought download and see what’s really going on.  Take a look at what is 100% factual and what is a story that you’re telling yourself.  Notice how that story is causing you to feel, and what you do when you feel that way.

Let’s say that you want to find a new job, but you’re not taking any action.  You sometimes scroll through job postings when you’ve had a particularly bad day at work, and maybe you apply for an opening or two, but that’s the extent of it.  You’ve already got a full-time job and a couple of kids.  It seems like there is just no time to start job searching right now.

The thought that “there is no time to start job searching right now but I’m miserable at my current job” is not going to help you feel motivated to do anything productive.  The only thing that thought will probably motivate you to do is to curl up in a fetal position under a blanket.  And perhaps reach for wine and chocolate.  And when you do that, your result is that you don’t make the time for a job search and you’re keeping yourself stuck at your current job.

What Do You Want To Believe? 

Once you know what your current beliefs are and can see how they are causing you to feel and act, ask yourself why you’re holding onto those beliefs.

Imagine what it would be like to be someone else in the same circumstance, having a different belief than your own.

For example, in the job searching scenario, can you imagine that there might be one other person in the exact same circumstances who is creating time in her week for a job search?  She may be carving time out on a Sunday afternoon during nap time or spending an hour or two in the evenings during the week.   She might be getting up an hour earlier, or using some vacation time off of work to job search, instead of going to Disney World.

What is causing her to do that?

Hint:  It’s her beliefs. 

The person who believes “there isn’t enough time for my job search” will not even try to make time.

But the person who is taking action is doing that because she’s feeling committed to making a change.  And she’s feeling committed because she’s thinking something like this:  “Getting a new job is a priority for me right now and I am committed to finding pockets of time for my job search.”

Inherent in that thought is the belief that there is a way to create the time.  The belief that it’s possible and that it’s worth it.

The good news is that you can borrow the thoughts and beliefs of that person—real or imagined—and put them to use in your own life.  Right now.

Here are some thoughts that you can practice to change your beliefs about what’s possible for you right now.

  • I’m open to the possibility that I can find some time for ________.
  • I can find a way to prioritize this in my life right now.
  • I’m committed to figuring out how to do this.

These thoughts create the space in our minds for new possibilities that you have not believed up until now.  They open the door to your creativity and problem-solving abilities, which had been firmly shut by the prior belief what you want wasn’t possible for you.

Try these thoughts on.  Write them down and practice them.  Brainstorm the ways in which you can figure out a solution when you practice believing something different.  Then watch yourself as you begin to create different results in your life.  It’s mathematical.  Different thoughts and beliefs create different results.  Period.

Go forth, believe, grow, and bloom.

XO

Charise

The Real Reason We Procrastinate

The real reason why any of us procrastinate is because of our thoughts.  Positive thoughts drive productive action and negative thoughts drive inaction or unproductive action (such as reaching for a pint of ice cream).  Trying to change your actions without examining your thoughts is like trying to get a broken car to go without looking under the hood.  You can try pushing the car, you can try having a tow truck come along and pull it, but it’s going to be a slow, painful process and you’re not going to get to where you’re going nearly as fast.

But once you understand that your actions are driven by your feelings and your feelings are created by your thoughts, it becomes a lot easier to get to the source of the problem.

Find The Root Cause

When you’re procrastinating about something, whether it’s preparing a presentation for work, starting a job search, or going to the gym, take 10 minutes and write down all of your thoughts about why you’re not doing the thing you wanted to do.  In other words, all of your reasons.  This is called a thought download.  It’s like doing an inventory of what’s going on in your brain and it’s the equivalent of a mechanic looking under the hood of a car.

Let’s say for example that you want to start looking for a new job but you’re not taking action.  What are the thoughts that you’re thinking when you don’t feel like setting up informational interviews, applying for jobs, or updating your resume?

  • If you have the thought that you don’t have time, that might create the feeling of anxiety or apathy, which drives inaction.
  • If you have the thought that you are tired and deserve a break, it’s likely to create the feeling of lethargy, which also drives inaction.
  • If you have the thought that you no one will want to hire you, that will create the fear of rejection or maybe even shame, which will drive the “action” of wanting to hide and distracting yourself with Netflix.
  • If you have the thought that job searching is going to be painful and uncomfortable, that will create the feeling of dread, which will drive you to stay in your comfort zone and watch Netflix.

You get the idea.  Just identifying the feelings that are creating your inaction, and understanding the thoughts that are creating those feelings can have a powerful impact because once you understand it, you’ll be in a position to change it.

Have Compassion For Yourself

It’s very important that you have compassion for yourself when you’re becoming conscious of the effect your thoughts are having in your life.  We all have these kinds of negative automatic thoughts.  It’s part of our wiring, so there is no need to judge or shame yourself for this.  Realize that you are not your thoughts.  You are a human soul with a human brain that generates 60,000 thoughts a day.  Try to become the Watcher of your thoughts to get some distance from them.

When you are ready, look at each of the thoughts that is creating a negative feeling and leading to inaction and ask yourself “who would I be without that thought?”  Imagine letting go of that thought and seeing what that would feel like.  This exercise helps you realize that the negative thought is completely optional.  Your brain may want to go back to it because it’s familiar, but you can gently remind yourself that you could be a person without that thought.

How Do You Need To Feel To Take Action?

The next step is to figure out what feeling would drive you to take the action you want to take.  Usually we need to feel motivated, determined, or committed to take action, but you may need to find a different feeling that will propel your action.  What is it?  Write it down.

Then brainstorm a thought that is believable to you that would create that feeling.  For example, if you want to create the feeling of motivation, you might need to think “I am willing to go outside my comfort zone in order to find a job that I love.”

Or perhaps it motivates you to think about how you could help others if you got the right job, so you could choose the thought “I have so much to offer to an organization with a worthwhile mission.”  That spark of motivation can drive you to take small steps, such as writing down all that you do have to offer and using that list to update your resume or write cover letters.  The more you act, the more evidence you will create to support the thought that you do have so much to offer.

There is no right or wrong thought here:  it just needs to be one that (1) you can believe, and (2) will create positive feelings to drive you to take action.

This is a game changer, because our actions are what create our results.  What results to you want to create in your life?  Imagine the possibilities!

Go forth, grow, and bloom.

XO

Charise