I have a friend who used to agonize over any choice she had to make, big or small — from what to wear to work or eat for lunch, to joining or, to whether she should go back to school for a post-graduate degree.  Invariably, the decision-making process consumed a tremendous amount of her time and energy.  As a result of her decision paralysis, my friend was often late for work, constantly made and broke commitments with friends and family, and always accomplished far less each day than she planned.

What caused her indecision?  She felt that no matter what action she took, she was not in the driver’s seat of her life — that life was driving her instead.  But that’s the biggest lie you can tell yourself.  The truth?  You have the power to choose what you believe about your life.  You can either choose beliefs that limit you, or beliefs that energize and empower you.  Not surprisingly, successful people believe in their ability to design, shape, and change their lives.

Here’s what can you do today to feel more empowered and motivated, even when you’re uncertain or fearful about taking action.

  1. Recall past accomplishments.

Maybe you got a great job right out of college.  Perhaps you ended an unhealthy relationship, even though it hurt.  Or you moved to a new city and created a whole new life for yourself.

Reflecting on past “wins” fuels future success because it reminds you of the competence you already possess.  It’s proof that you can make big choices.  You’ve already proven your personal power, so stop hesitating.

  1. Listen to your inner voice.

Just as there’s no right or wrong way to organize your closet or design your home garden, there’s no right or wrong way to live your life.  Meditating and/or taking some quiet downtime to tune out the noise of the day (or the noise of unsolicited opinions from friends and family) can help allow your inner voice—your intuition—to rise and become more apparent.  Get still and really pay attention.  What does your intuition tell you?  It’s like having an on-demand mentor at your side, silently guiding you.  The more you listen, the louder it gets.

  1. Ask yourself: “And then what?”

If you have to make a decision that’s scaring you, keep asking yourself “And then what?” until you get to bottom of it.  Last week, my friend Sara told me that she was worrying about whether to pursue a promotion at work.  Her biggest fear was not getting it and having to find a new job.  She was spinning her mental wheels with “what ifs” and worst-case scenarios, but she wasn’t getting anywhere.

So I asked her to do an exercise with me:

-OK, say you go for the promotion and don’t get it.  Then what?

-I’ll be so disappointed.

-And then what?

-I will feel miserable and like a failure—like I am not good enough to get ahead.

-And then what?

-I will probably feel really dissatisfied in my current job.

-And then what?

-I will want to look around for a new job soon. I think?

-And then what?

-I guess I’ll have to get on the job boards and maybe connect with some former colleagues.

-And then what?

-I don’t know. Contact some people I know. Maybe see if they have openings.

*Long pause.*

-Actually, one guy I used to work with sent me an email a couple of weeks ago about an opening on his team. I could get back to him now and just ask!

 *Face brightens up a little.*

 -I guess I just need to go for it… I mean, internally and externally look around…

*Trails off … thinking.*

-Yeah, I just need to do it!

Ding, ding, ding!  Sara’s body language and facial expression completely shifted.  She felt energized and empowered because she was back in the driver’s seat, actively designing her future.

Then we shifted gears to talk about how to approach a promotion with her manager.

  1. Take action.

Commit to yourself.  Commit to overcoming the negativity.  Commit to a better life.  When you commit fully, cutting off any other possibility than what you want, you are going to push yourself to the next level and you are going to demand more of yourself than anyone else could ever expect.  And that is true power.

You can live your life by default – letting things happen to you – or by design – getting out of your own head and making things happen.  Which way do you want to live? The power’s yours.

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