A lot of the work I do with clients is around a search for answers. People are trying to understand if their job is right for them, what their current purpose in life is, if their relationship is working for them, if they should move to a new part of the country and so on.
People often feel that if they can just think harder and focus more on the problem, they’ll figure out what they want to know.
Our culture places a premium on being able to ‘work things out’ and ‘think things through’. We are encouraged to make pros and cons lists, we consult countless friends, we go online and search, or read our horoscopes, looking for signs.
We even set schedules for when we expect to know – ‘I really want to have this figured out by Friday’, or ‘I’m giving myself 48 hours to concentrate on thinking this through…’
Sure, sometimes time is a factor. If we are offered a job and need to let the employers know, we can’t ask them to wait for a few weeks while we do some soul searching!
But a lot of the time, time isn’t as urgent a factor as we think it is. We create a sense of urgency in ourselves because we aren’t comfortable with not knowing– and we want to move as quickly as possible from not knowing to a sense of surety.
Our demand to know the answer – to get away from the discomfort of not knowing – is the very thing that can push clarity further away.
We bombard ourselves with more questions; we rail against the fact that we don’t yet know; we wonder why we don’t know and when we will know! We feel frustrated, anxious and irritable – and no closer to the answers we’re looking for.
At times like this it’s understandable that we try to ‘logic’ our way to an answer. And thinking things through has a role to play – if you’re being offered a job you’ll certainly be considering the pay, the commute and the working conditions on offer.
But when we’re considering something that connects deeply with our sense of who we are, or presents the possibility of other changes, like moving across the country for a job, considering a move to be closer to family, or maybe setting up our own business, we won’t find the answers we seek ‘out there’. The answers are inside us – we simply need to find a way to tune in and listen.
Take some time – go for a walk, take a half-day or a day out. Be busy living and enjoying your life; take the focus off trying to answer the question or find a solution.
Then come back to it, in a generous and open way. Try reflecting on the following questions. Give yourself at least five minutes to sit with each question – the more time you give, the more you have the chance for insight:
- What information do I have now? What do I know?
- What is it that I don’t know, and can’t actually know until a future time?
- What am I afraid will happen if I choose X?
- What amazing things might happen if I choose X?
- Thinking about myself, what would I love to have happen in relation to X?
These questions aren’t about what might be considered ‘practical’ or ‘realistic’ – these are about you connecting to what truly matters to you.
Once you’re clear on this and admit to yourself what’s truly important for you, the solutions will follow. We often run into problems because we don’t take time to admit to ourselves – and to others – what we truly want. And that’s one of the things that can make decisions seem difficult to make – we aren’t making choices with any real understanding of what matters to us. The
So give yourself time and room to be brave and admit to yourself what you truly want. Working out what’s possible comes next. And what I have seen is that when we align ourselves to what we truly want and act in a way that’s authentic for us, the barriers we thought existed start to fall away – solutions start to present themselves.
We get out of our own way and start asking, ‘How do I make this work?’ rather than telling ourselves over and again, ‘It’s simply not possible for me’.
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