Two Powerful Questions to Help You Make Big Decisions
Hi! Gina here.
When it comes to making big decisions, we spend a lot of time preparing for the worst.
I want to quit my job. But what if my next job isn’t any better?
I want to negotiate a better starting salary. But what if I make a bad first impression?
I want to tell them how I really feel. But what if it ruins our friendship?
I want to say “yes.” But what if it doesn’t work out?
“What if” is an argument for why the thing that you want can’t happen. “What if” stops us in our tracks, keeps us suspended in status quo, and prevents us from moving forward.
Preparing for the worst is normal; instinctual, actually. It’s a function of our brain’s survival mechanism (aka “fight or flight” response). It enables us to react quickly to life-threatening situations and keeps us out of harm’s way.
Unfortunately, the body tends to overreact to situations that are not life-threatening like relationship drama, workplace woes, and family difficulties.
I’m over-simplifying here but this is essentially where what-if-ing (and other self-defeating thoughts) come into play. When we consider doing something new or uncomfortable, something outside of the status quo, our brain detects it as a threat. So, If you are stepping into a personal or professional stretch-zone, your brain is going to sound the “what-if” alarm to make sure you stay frozen and inside the safety-zone.
The bigger the stretch, the louder the alarm. You can count on it.
So what do you do when your brain is what-if-ing on repeat?
Since the “what if” question takes you to the worst-case-scenario dead end, consider a new series of questions:
What is the BEST case scenario?
Am I willing to miss out on THAT?”
These two questions have changed the course of my life on more than one occasion. Shout out to life coach Brooke Castillo for introducing them to me. For years, my “what-ifs” stopped me from leaving my full time tech job and starting my own coaching business. In my personal life, my “what-ifs” nearly talked me out of marrying the love of my life.
What if I’m not cut out for this marriage stuff?
What if I end up feeling trapped?
What if it ends horribly like it did for my parents?”
When I stepped back and imagined the best-case-scenario around work, and then later, around marriage, I went from feeling frozen and fearful to feeling hopeful and excited. When I envisioned my business, my future with my beloved, my life as I really wanted it, my whole body smiled. That feeling became bigger than my fear.
Your “what ifs,” like mine, are 99.9% unhelpful. When they creep up, take it as a clue that you're onto something important. From there, ask yourself a new series of questions; ones that move you toward possibility and away from fear.
Gina & Alicia