Next week, I’m flying to Toronto to attend Blissdom Canada—a blogging and social media conference I’ve been half-thinking of attending for years now. I’ve never been to Toronto, and I love the opportunity to put aside some of my many roles (tucker-inner, grocery shopper, dinner planner) and dive into thinking about work. I know I’ll come back refreshed and excited to see my kids, I’ll have gotten some great thinking and some great working done, and I’ll have scratched my itch for seeing someplace new. It’s definitely a win-win.
So why did I spend an hour of yesterday morning trying to change my flight and come back early?
Because this is what happens when I, or you, or anyone, makes a decision based on a true desire:
You get quiet. You get clear on what you want. You make the decision that will move you closer toward what you want. And then, at some point and for some duration, the doubt will show up.
“What were you thinking, taking three nights away from your life and spending money on plane tickets, taxis, meals, and hotels?”
“Are you crazy?”
“Wouldn’t it be better if you didn’t do it?”
That kind of thing.
You know what I’m talking about, right?
Sometimes these thoughts are initiated by someone close to you. They ask, “Are you sure?”
Or maybe they don’t say anything, they just look at you with a wrinkle in their forehead and boom, your thoughts do all the rest.
The doubt that shows up after a big decision is just part of the process. The only thing it’s a sign of is that you are doing things differently.
It’s not the truth. Or a warning. Or an omen.
It’s neurotransmitters traveling along a very well-worn groove in your brain. It’s chemical, not spiritual. And if you just allow yourself to experience it for what it is (essentially, a laser light show that only you can see), it will pass. Peacefully. All on its own. And stay gone.
So how can you stay steady even through the inevitable period of “WTF?!”:
- First, remember it’s just part of the process and doesn’t require any response out of you at all other than to notice it and let it pass.
- Take a few deep breaths, walk the dog, chop an onion, pet your hamster, get out the journal or the paints …whatever typically helps you feel like yourself again.
- Remind yourself that you made this decision based on a sincere desire, and to whatever extent you can, choose to have faith in that (desire does come from the Latin root de-sire, or of the father, as in divine).
- Doubt the doubts. Would it really be better if you came back early? Or didn’t go? Is it possible that everything is happening exactly as it should? That you will be so happy you stuck to your guns?
- Make another decision that supports this initial one. Chances are, there is something unclear about the path you’ve chosen, and how your brain reacts to the uncertainty is freak out. So go ahead and make some other piece real. A secret purpose of doubt is to give you the chance to commit more fully to the path you’ve chosen. (Click to tweet!) If you didn’t have that moment of second-guessing, you wouldn’t necessarily have the opportunity to say, “Oh hell no, I’m doing this!”
For me, yesterday, what the doubt meant was that I spent 20 minutes on the phone to the airlines to just see if I could change my flight. Turns out I could, but I’d have to call a different number and wait on hold there, and then it would be a minimum of $600 extra dollars. That was enough clarity to get me to kiss that doubt goodbye.
Phew, now that’s out of the way. =) Let the excitement commence!