I recently spoke about the importance of taking action, and one of my students commented on the significance of knowing that what she was doing was the “right thing”.
The right thing! What a fascinating subject. Its roots are so deep; they are intertwined with the essence of our beings, the nature of everything we do in life.
Ironically, this is the question that we tend to ask ourselves more and more as we reach the middle of our life journey. As small children, we never ask ourselves if what we are up to is the right course to take. We take it, no matter what. Those who are older learn to care less about the process and more about the experience.
No matter how many times a baby falls on its side, it is determined to crawl, then walk, then talk. Does it need validation that these are the right things it needs to do? Babies just know what they want, and this is all that matters. They will get wherever they decide to be unless there is something extraordinary on the way that prevents them physically from achieving what they want.
Tenacity is in our nature. But as we grow older, we go through a stage where we start to doubt. We want instant results. We stop trusting ourselves. Is it unnatural? Well, actually no, because now we are dealing with our maturing brain exercising its core programming: keeping us safe from potential danger.
Keeping us safe literally manifests itself in self-sabotage by talking ourselves out of trusting our journey.
Having those negative voices in our heads is in itself a natural thing, too.
Where the real danger lies is in allowing the brain to win and allowing it to hold us back from where we want to be. I think the majority of human beings on Earth are caught up in this argument with their inner voices, unable to win. The hard part is that it is not just a one-off battle. It is something that will happen again and again, and you will continue to face the evil infinitely, like Dr Strange. Does it sound familiar?
I definitely suffered from listening to the negative chatter inside my head for many years, especially around my 30s. And I lost over and over again. It kept me stuck, disempowered, out of control. I remember describing how it felt. It was a feeling of a free fall into a bottomless pit. When I thought things could not be any more devastating, they seemed always to get even worse – caught in a loop of being afraid, unsure of what my next step should be, tolerating impossible situations and impossible relationships that were sucking the life force out of me day after day.
Until one day something changed. A thought. A realisation. An epiphany! And it was so simple. It almost seemed like an excuse.
It was when I realised that I was not focusing on where I wanted to be.
I did not even know precisely what it was that I really dreamed about. There was no clarity. So I kept asking myself if what I was doing was the “right thing”, forgetting to address the actual question – the right things for what?
What are you trying to achieve? What is the perfect life for you? And how are you going to get there?
The things about going from A to B is that there is more than one way to get there. And most of the time there more than one way that is the right way to get there. Even more so, the only right way to get there is to try and test and be ready to… No, not fail! Ready to make a U-turn when required. And more importantly, be ok with it!
Imagine you are driving on an unfamiliar road, and you lost your way. You would make a U-turn and get back to where you last knew where you were, and try a different route. No overthinking, not really even knowing if the second route is the one that will bring you there. But even if it is not – you just do it again. You make another U-turn. Eventually, you will find your way, as long as you are ok with making as many U-turns as required to get where you want to.
Just like those babies, right?
It applies to everything in life. From a decision whether to have a coffee or water the first thing in the morning, to getting married, and running your own business.
The key is to be aware of the doubts and the chatter and focus instead on defining where we want to be and what exactly we want to achieve. Even better, focus on the point beyond where you are heading – what is the next level after that, and how do you imagine that life to be?
Then work backwards and set smaller goals to take you there. Even if you are not sure they are the right things to do – you can always make a U-turn, go back to the point that worked for you and start from there. As long as you know your destination, you will find the way.
As a visibility strategist, I encourage my students to go back to their vision regularly. Building a personal brand is a long term strategy with not many quick wins, so being aware that self-doubt, looking for validation and the rest of the “doubt brigade” are there to kick in daily is the secret. Allow it, and you will feel disempowered, stuck, and frustrated. Focus on your destination, and your journey becomes exciting. An adventure you can actually enjoy.
Then, before you know it, your reality starts changing rapidly. Your voice becomes stronger; your content resonates with the right people deeply; your business grows as you are attracting the best of them to work with you.
And the most wonderful part – you transform within, re-discovering that natural tenacity and determination to get where your vision takes you!
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