If you can’t make a decision, this exercise is a game-changer!
Have you ever had a hard time making a decision because you know that decision is going to greatly impact your life and you want to be sure you make the best one?
I’m Alexis Buhrman, Coach and Creator of the do-it-yourself vision and goal-setting course, The 48-Hour Planning Retreat™. I help high-achieving professionals create lives with more purpose, peace and pleasure and one thing is for sure:
If you want to create a life you love, you’ve got to get comfortable making decisions.
I think people expect that our jobs as coaches is to give our clients advice when it comes to making decisions, but that’s not what a good, trained coach does.
In my experience, most people don’t benefit from advice. And here’s why.
We don’t want to do things we don’t want to do. It’s that simple.
I’m no exception.
If my coach were to tell me something I should do, and it didn’t feel right for me, I wouldn’t do it. I would likely try to find a way that would get me the results I’m searching for in a way that feels good for me.
You see, when it comes to decisions, other people’s advice isn’t always helpful.
Have your parents, your spouse, or your best friend ever given you advice you just didn’t agree with? Maybe influenced a decision you made that you regretted?
I mean, most of us have at one time or another. Because we think advice will help us. When in fact, it actually hurts us.
Because humans are all unique. Since we all have our own life experiences, strengths and values, each of us is going to look at the decision through our own lens of life.
The prescription in my glasses aren’t YOUR prescription, so we’re going to see things VERY differently.
As a coach, my job is not to tell you what to do, but to ask you questions that can help you make your own decision – one that is unique and right for your needs.
Today, I want to share one of my favorite coaching exercises – and it’s super simple and super effective if you’re stuck or trying to make a decision about your life.
Your future self-exercise.
I think we all want to know we’ve had a life well lived when we come to the end.
But we get so bogged down and busy in the day-to-day grind that we don’t think about the future, certainly not decades into the future, but only what’s right in front of us.
If you’re struggling to make a choice it’s probably because you’re thinking of the now – what’s going to happen as a result of making that choice right now, or in the next few months or even years.
But what do you think your future self would say? If you were able to ask your future self at 50, 60, 70 and beyond, what do you think they would have to say about this decision?
Here’s how you do the exercise in the simplest, easiest way.
You can do this even if you’re too busy to shave your legs, okay?
Get a piece of paper and let’s journal this out.
First question: What’s the decision you’re struggling to make?
Write it down.
Second question: What am I concerned about?
In my experience, I find we get stuck on making a decision because we get overwhelmed by all the what-ifs.
We start thinking about all the things that feel hard, all the things that could go wrong, what will happen if they go wrong and then we get into this freak out thought spiral.
Our brain starts to overwhelm us with all these thoughts and beliefs, and then more questions, right?
And I don’t want you to get in that spiral.
Because the truth is, you’re not a mind reader. Neither am I. You don’t know what will happen when you make the decision.
You might be so happy you did and wish you did it sooner. Or, you might regret it.
One thing is for sure. Nothing will happen until you make it happen.
Being afraid of all the things that could potentially go wrong shouldn’t keep us from making a decision.
We want to get all the fear and noise out of your head and on paper. All the concerns and fears.
We do this because sometimes it seems like there are a lot of “what-ifs” to overcome, but oftentimes when you see them all written down, they’re no big deal. Just details.
Like “What if I move and I don’t like the neighborhood?”
Get a new one when the lease is up, or rent something with a 6-month lease!
See what I mean?
When you address these concerns, you’ll likely find there are many that are easy to work through.
These are the questions I help my clients find answers to. But what about the ones that aren’t so cut and dry?
What if I leave my marriage and regret it? If I’m not smart enough for the job? What if I decide not to have children?
These are the questions that are hard to ask, but that I believe one person has the answers to.
Your future self.
I believe that deep down, we know what’s right for ourselves.
We just get stuck in our heads with all the details and fears and analysis paralysis. We stop trusting our gut and our inner compass, so we think we need to look outside of ourselves for the answers.
But nobody is looking at your life through your glasses, from your perspective. Except, of course, you. So ask yourself!
The third question: What advice would my future self give me?
If you’re staying in a deeply unhappy or unhealthy marriage because you think it’s what you’re supposed to do and you aren’t sure whether to leave or stay – what would your future self say?
What would she have done or wished you would have done looking back 5 years from now? 10? 20?
Are there things she’d regret or rejoice?
If you never went to college and always wanted to so you could get a better job, but you’re afraid you’re not smart enough, what would your future self want you to do?
What would it cost you 10 years from now if you stayed in the same job? In 20 years? What would your retirement look like? Could you retire?
What would be the cost of continuing to avoid making the decisions? Would your future self thin it was worth the price?
These may not sound like fun questions to ask, but some decisions in life aren’t fun to make. Some feel so scary but once made, feel like a huge burden has been lifted from your shoulders.
I truly believe we all have the answers we need within us – we just need to ask the right questions to access them.
Once you’ve made a choice, THEN you can start focusing on the details and what to do next.
And remember – life is full of choices and you can make new ones all the time. Just because you make one, doesn’t mean you can’t pivot if the decision didn’t turn out like you hoped.
So you leave a job you were comfortable in for a new one and realize it’s not a good fit.
You can find a new one! You don’t have to commit 100% to your decision if you get more information and realize it isn’t the right one for you.
Sometimes we just have to make the choice and go from there.
It’s not the end of the world.
Thank you so much for giving me the gift of your time. If you can’t make a decision about something, I hope this video was helpful.
I’d love to hear from you.
Have you tried the future-self exercise? If not, give it a go and let me know what you learned in the comments.
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