Here’s a question I hear a lot:
“How do I know it’s time to move jobs/country/city/relationship? How do I know it’s right? I’m really scared if I make this move it might not work out for me.”
Such is the concern when we dance on the edge of a precipice of a life-changing choice, either large or small. It’s my privilege and honour to hold the hands many smart men and women as they make some awe-inspiring choices of change for the better.
Great change is often accompanied by this one great question: “How do I know it’s right?” and the simple statement of truth “but…I’m scared”.
How do we get past this?
The thing to know when you are facing any great change is this: do not get your sense of “rightness” mixed up with the emotion of fear. Try and separate the two.
The “rightness” you will feel in your body. No amount of clever logic can ever make up for that grounded, centered, aligned feeling in your body that tells you that this thing is the right way to go. If you stop and get still and quiet, the wise guide of your body will let you know, without doubt, that something is a Hell Yes. Or a Hell No. Rightness can be felt and you can trust it. Get quiet. Listen. Trust. Then get logical and pragmatic and use your smart brain to make some smart choices, but first – for the rightness – it lives in your body. Light feels right. Heavy feels wrong.
On the scariness thing. Well, this is where you logical mind to work. It’s very rare for any big decision to come WITHOUT some degree of fear attached, but – crucially – that doesn’t mean it’s the wrong choice. Many people will wait whole lifetimes to make a choice to live their passion or to follow their calling – they wait, and they wait, and they wait. They wait for the decision to come with the absence of fear. For it to feel right AND comfortable. They make feeling comfortable a condition on which the rightness is based. And so, they wait, they wait for right + comfortable, right + comfortable. And that day often never comes.
Right + comfortable may come hand in hand for you. If so you are very lucky and should leap at that chance in an instant! But many times the decisions that are right and powerful in your life will also come with a feeling of nerves and trepidation. Excitement or butterflies. Don’t confuse that feeling with wrongness.
Life is like a series of monkey bars. In order to progress you have to let go of the bar behind you, be swinging unbalanced in mid air, clinging on with just one hand, as you build momentum and swing across to the next bar. There is a moment of fear that is a natural and integral part of the process of progression.
The popular, and brilliant, academic and author Brene Brown recently wrote,
“You can choose courage, or you can choose comfort. You cannot have both”.
She is spot on. Once we know what is right we often need to muster our reserves of courage to make it ours. Courage is not the absence of fear. Courage is doing what you feel is right despite the presence of it.
Rightness can come with a degree of discomfort that’s needed to achieve it. An eye watering mortgage. Waving a loved one goodbye at the airport as pastures new beckon. Returning to study as a mature student. The leap into a midlife career change. Daring to love again. A degree of discomfort is always going to be present, but it doesn’t make it wrong.
Courage or comfort.
One or the other.