A. Follow conventional wisdom, take the choice that looks best on paper
B. Make pro and con lists out the wazoo
C. Poll your friends
D. Avoid making a choice until circumstances make one for you
E. Get quiet, hear what your gut has to say, and then act
What’s your go-to option?
I’m guessing it’s A, B, C, D, or some combination of the above. You’ve definitely had an E experience, but it was years ago, and now you’re wondering if it was just a fluke.
Listen, I hear ya. Sometimes making a choice is petrifying. When I began coaching in earnest, I felt I had to decide between coaching full-time and writing full-time. Although I’d been earning a very nice living as a freelance writer for nigh on a decade, I was disenchanted with the state of the magazine business, and intimidated by the path of the professional blogger. I swallowed hard and chose coaching.
Let me be clear: I love being a coach. I love connecting, teaching, and developing relationships. I freaking love helping people get what they want! My clients have made changes that range all along the spectrum from little to big, and some of them are on a completely different trajectory today because of one or a series of decisions they made as a direct result of our conversations. I am a coach for the long-haul, and am honored and humbled to have found this line of work. (I would never have done it, ever, without numerous nudges from my coach.)
But a big piece of me missed writing. Like, really bad.
So much so that my subconscious put the brakes on my coaching career. I spent many months avoiding conversations with anyone who could potentially be a client. I got a lot of advice from folks – some whom I paid for their advice, some whom I didn’t – that I needed to own my decision to be a coach. But you know what?
I am a fan of the middle path. The path that runs between the obvious, on or off, black or white choices.
The truth is, I love both. Writing + coaching = my genius. (See that photo of 2-year-old me at the typewriter? That, my friends, is bliss.) Sometimes my two passions intersect – I write articles about subjects that I also broach with my coaching clients, or I coach clients on how to communicate more clearly or start their own businesses based on their innate genius. And sometimes they don’t.
When you make a choice and it doesn’t sit right with you, you can always choose again. It may not make sense to an outside observer, or your best friend, or your Mom. But it makes sense to your gut, and that is all that matters.
Here are the parameters for writing projects I take on. May they inspire you to set your own guidelines for an area of your life that needs to be re-jiggered:
- It’s a story I want to tell
- It’s a topic I want to bring more awareness to
- It’s an opportunity to work with someone I admire
- It’s spreading a message that will deliver mad value to just the right people
- It excites me
These guidelines have enabled me to sell an essay to Yoga International, a multi-page article to Parents magazine, several blog posts to Gaiam.com, and a book that’s coming out in January that I am excited to start telling you more about in the next few weeks.
Really the only way to be sure an opportunity meets any of these criteria is to take a minute to get quiet, check in, and see what kinds of thoughts and sensations I’m experiencing. A flutter in the chest? Spontaneous ideas while washing the dishes? Yes! A clenching in my gut? Holding my breath? Searching for ways to justify why the discomfort I’m experiencing just thinking about the project is worth the money it pays. No. Effing. Way.
Some of you out there will be able to make a decision to just start listening to your gut from here on out. Not many of you, mind you, but if this is hitting you at just the right time and you’ve had it – up to here! – with leaving your gut out of the decision-making equation, you certainly could flick a switch and start putting your intuition in the driver’s seat. Let today be the day that switch gets flicked!
For most of us, though, it’s not as easy as flicking a switch. It’s more like a walk through an unfamiliar room with no lights on. Lots of feeling your way, occasionally walking in to walls, then redirecting and heading off in a different direction. And it’s perfect. Gradually, the light starts creeping in from under the curtains until you find your way to the rod and then – boom – you open those drapes and the landscape is suddenly crystal clear.
A to the men. =)