Feeling overwhelmed, directionless or stuck? Follow these 7 steps to create to confidence, clarity and vision.
So many of us swing between feeling motivated and ‘on-track’ and overwhelmed, frustrated or confused. It seemingly comes out of no-where, one moment we are busy ticking things off our lists, the next we’re wondering if we are on the right path, feeling anxious and demotivated.
My belief is that there is an underlying issue that we are avoiding or numbing ourselves from. Something requires us to leave our comfort zone, to grow or transform. We tend to feel this more as we get older, yet the idea that we can do anything about it becomes harder. Jennifer Garvey Berger explains this brilliantly:
‘At every age – we feel like we’re done with our evolution. We’re wired wrongly to believe our big changes are behind us. Because we don’t think of ourselves as growing and changing in the future, we invest our energy into protecting the person we have become, rather than growing into what we might become next’.
That’s fundamentally the problem, we get settled in ‘who we are’ or who we think we ‘should be’. Our identity can be the thing that limits us. What’s worse, more often than not, it’s not even our own thoughts that stops us, but what we believe others will think!
That’s the real tragedy, that we don’t follow our dreams because it’s not what we think ‘should’ do or are expected to. Bronnie Ware, an Australian nurse who spent years working in palliative care, wrote a book called The Top Five Regrets of the Dying. The most common:
“I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me”
How do you do that?
The following 7 steps will help you uncover the path for you, release what’s been holding you back and find the courage to take the first step.
1. Find your why
First, you need to understand that it’s not what you do but why you do it; what drives you, what do you value, what makes you get up in the morning? What does success mean to you? (Clue: it’s about more than money). Defining this clearly will help guide you towards living a life that’s right for you.
If you don’t know the answer to those questions, then spend some time uncovering your values. An easy place to start is what makes you really angry – that will be a clue that one of your core values has been trespassed upon.
When you know your “why” it becomes easier to focus on what matters the most in your life.
2. Stop discounting what you think
You likely have thoughts that bubble-up about what you’d like to do in life but you discount them.
These are what Rebecca Campbell calls ‘soul whispers’, and my invitation is to listen to them. Don’t ignore them or push the idea away, instead start to consider that they might be valid.
Don’t judge yourself or the thought.
This is often why we feel paralysed, we intuitively know where to go but talk ourselves out it or discount it as nonsense.
Remember – this is the work of your inner critic, which designed to keep you safe in your comfort zone. Watch out for that.
3. Accept that you are enough
To follow your own path you need to move from “what will people think” to “I am enough”. As Brené Brown puts it in ‘Daring Greatly’ you have to “build shame resilience”.
If you can accept yourself and worry less about what others think you’ll be able to make choices that that will make you happy.
To do this we need to get to know and tame our inner critic and practice self-compassion. The idea of this may make you uncomfortable, read on…
4. Feel the feelings
We all avoid or numb ourselves in order not to ‘feel’. We will zig zag down different roads rather than face what scares us – our feelings, our vulnerable truth.
Ask yourself, what are you avoiding, controlling, procrastinating on or blaming others for?
Be mindful and understanding how you numb the feelings. It’s not just drugs and alcohol, one of the main ways we numb is being really busy.
Does this resonate? Do you fill every minute with tasks and checklists to avoid being still and tuning-in to yourself?
This has been a big one for my clients recently, especially those who were furloughed, as on lockdown there was enforced stillness and it was destabilising.
So, can you sit with you feel your feelings, explore them, be open and vulnerable? Don’t be afraid to feel the feelings, as once you do, they will pass and you won’t have to fear them anymore. It will create space to hear those ‘soul whispers’
5. Raise awareness of your stories
‘Until you make the unconscious conscious, it will direct your life and you will call it fate’ – Carl Jung.
We need to become aware of what we are telling ourselves. In simple these are our ‘stories’ (or ‘life script’). They will tend to be along the lines of:
- Other people can do those things but not me
- I’m not good enough
- I can’t make friends easily
- I’m unlucky in love, I never meet the right person
- I don’t have any deeper purpose
- I don’t have any transferable skills
None of these are necessarily true, they are protection mechanisms we develop when we are young and to help us make sense of the world.
What comes up for you? Can you identify your stories? They may become apparent if you ask yourself what patterns you repeat your life?
By understanding these, we become conscious of how they are influencing our thoughts, behaviours and decisions.
The power of raising awareness of this is that it gives you the opportunity to consciously take a different course of action, where you can legitimately expect a different outcome.
Rewriting your stories and life script it will change your life for the better, this is a core part of the work we do in my coaching programmes.
6. Understand your anxiety
Everyone feels anxiety to some degree. It is fuelled by uncertainty, so the global pandemic and impending recession is triggering everyone. An overwhelming workload, excessive demands on your time, feeling social isolation or discomfort or a sense of shame will also lead to greater anxiety.
The key is not just finding ways to sooth your anxiety (like taking a bath to relax or getting up early to catch up on emails) but addressing the thoughts, emotions and behaviours that cause it.
As with understanding your stories, spending time tuning-in and getting to the root of your anxiety is important.
What unhelpful thoughts, patterns or stories do you tell yourself? Can you challenge them and replace them with more empowering thoughts?
If you can do that, you can manage your mindset and choose where we focus our attention.
7. Connect to your authentic power
Once we have done through the first 6 steps you have started to align with your purpose and your values, you have cleared some space, and begun to manage and upgrade your mindset. Now you need to own that and start setting your boundaries.
If the idea of asserting yourself by setting boundaries makes you anxious, don’t worry. Once you’re tuned into your ‘why’ and your values, you’ll start to connect with your authentic power.
This is a place where you can speak with conviction and integrity, because you’ll know it’s the right thing for you.
It is not emotional or reactive but calm and centred. When you speak from this place, people will hear your authentic truth and be less likely to try to give you their advice to talk you round to their way. It sounds good doesn’t it?
I speak from experience as I went through this when I was about to leave my ‘on paper’ amazing ‘Global Head of’ role and start my business. When I told people before I went through the 7 steps, everyone wanted to give me their advice.
However, once I had been through the process, I had such conviction that the same people told me that they wished they could do I was doing and wished me luck.
I hope that these 7 steps make sense to you. They are not another tick-list but deep work that you need to do so that you can find your confidence, clarity and vision.
A clear sense of purpose will let you focus your efforts on what matters most, compelling you to take risks and grow out of your comfort zone.
Knowing your ‘why’ will help you find the courage needed to make changes, stay motivated and start on a what may be a more rewarding and exciting path.
Are you ready for this? If you are, I can support you on this journey to more clarity, confidence and vision. Book a free discovery call here to find out how.