Hey, what are you doing? Actually, what aren’t you doing?
You are avoiding something. Of course you are, we all are.
We have many goals and just as many distractions. And often the distractions are the work and support we are giving to others.
The Bottom Line on Top of this episode is that the magic you are seeking is in the work you are not doing.
I’m sure you’re doing plenty of work. The nudge here is whether that work is in service to you or supports you in some way, professionally, personally, or as a development or learning, etc.
When was the last time the work you did produced some of the magic you seek? Magic comes in many forms. So to say it another way, how are you able to see if the road you’re on is taking you forward? Maybe it is, and if there is forward movement, is it on a road that you picked?
Maybe you’re not even on a road yet because you haven’t decided which road to take. That’s a common conundrum. We’re so focused on trying to make sure we make the right decision that we end up delaying a decision.
Episode 24 talked about how indecision is a decision. When we’re not making a decision, sometimes it’s because we don’t have enough information-and that’s totally fair. Other times it’s because we’re weighing the inputs and outputs of the options – again, trying to study a bit harder so the right answer reveals itself.
I want to revisit a few of the points from that episode about indecision and let’s start by taking credit for all the decisions you do make in a day. Some research has indicated that the average adult makes more than 35,000 decisions a day. Now most of those are micro mental moments but you are an actual decision-making machine.
Even brain scan imaging shows that decision making happens quickly- in a matter of seconds – often before we even register that what we just did was a decision.
When we start re-examining the options or side-stepping making a selection at all, we are hitting a mental Pause button. Sometimes that’s simply caused by decision fatigue, this is when the mental overload in the course of a day – or over a period of time – makes it harder to make quality decisions after an extended period of making regular decisions. I definitely get like that by the end of the day, my brain is just less decision-y.
The difference between feeling overloaded vs. being avoidant is in the frequency of how often you’re using that Pause button and how long it is staying on pause. The intentional act of not making a decision – that could be your extensive pro/con list, getting feedback and opinions from other people, maybe reading articles or books or creating a whole new to-do list – that can take up hours, or days, weeks, sometimes months.
Choosing to multitask, procrastinate, research, and sleep-on-it are all tools we use to avoid a decision. Sure, there are complicated, complex things in our lives that require a lot of thought and involve a lot of details. But details are actions once a decision is made. Details are the “How” you execute on the “What”.
Whatever you are still deciding on is what you are avoiding. Watch where you put the question marks in your life, and you might be finding the corners where your mind is hiding from the decisions.
When you feel the pull of procrastination or the indicator to hit pause, give yourself space to explore if it’s driven by an abundance of fear versus an absence of facts.
Start un-pausing and see what happens. And, remember, you get to change your mind. You just have to make up your mind first.
And then there are the times where we feel resistance but then we’re resisting that resistance. Episode 64 was about this, it took a deeper look into the hidden cost of helping. So when you do make that decision, the economics of what you are trading for it (that’s actually a thing, there is a field of study called neuroeconomics) and it looks at the integration of brain science, psychology, and economics- meeting supply and demand. In the case of helping, each of those things contribute to our consideration of how, when, and how much we might help in different situations.
By starting with this framing, we can then look at the different viewpoints when facing the reality of the requests in front of us. Now that’s when our brain can start to see the anticipated cost (meaning how much effort is necessary to actually help?) Or social evaluation (how badly is the help needed and who is going to witness it?) And even some of those anticipated benefits or consequences.
One of the prompts that episode offered was to ask yourself this:
Do I have the time, skills, and desire to help in the best way? We may have the desire but not the skills. Or we have the skills but not the time. Another equally important consideration is to ask: What am I trading in order to say yes or no? In our drive to help or respond, we might compromise on time, skills, desire, and personal cost.
These are quick recaps of much larger ideas and alternatives on how to approach what is in front of you. Today’s episode is a refresher of the other episodes that are available to you but it’s also a reminder that it’s more than okay to focus on you – to make time and take time to seek that magic.
And today might be the right day to do just that, or at the very least, to start to make room for it in the decisions that you will make.