Have you ever felt like you are stuck between a rock and a hard place? You are stuck between two paths in life? The usually smart, intelligent, witty, and successful “you” is now dumbfounded by your own inability to see clearly. Like the answer is just about visible but when you stretch your hand to reach it, it dissolves into thin air like a wisp of smoke. Sounds very movie-like, but I am sure each one of you has faced this situation at least once in life. Whether you are fresh out of college, 5 years into your working life, or 20 years as a leader, being looked up to by thousands of employees. Whether you are a scientist, an innovator, a teacher, a doctor, a thinker, an artist, a free spirit, or a dedicated housewife. We all have stood in front of that fork in the road.
As a corporate employee, especially in middle management & above, these moments of feeling stuck can amplify ten folds. Because as a leader, your job is decision-making so how can you be stuck with your own. The logic is solid, but we are live creatures and logic does not define us. We are defined by our birth, development, the society we live in, the world we interact with, and so on. When we overuse a cutting knife, it loses its sharpness and we need to sharpen it again. Similarly, too many decisions taken over long periods of time, create a lot of stress and affect the quality of your decisions. Especially in personal career & life decisions. I speak out of personal experience, how these moments of uncertainty, indecision, and anxiety can last for months or even years if not handled with care. The feeling of being stuck always indicates great life changes.
Scenarios can be anything, should I take that job offer or should I wait? Should I move to that country or is it too risky? Should I enter into a new partnership? Should I walk out of this marriage? and so on. Over 95% of the time, people use the same trodden path to deal with feeling stuck in decision paralysis. Similar to the 5 stages of grief, there are stages in a decision struggle.
Let us take an example, James is unsatisfied with his current job. His boss micromanages him; his team undermines him and the company culture is moving in a more outcome-focused direction, treating employees like robots. He has been working in this company for 6 years now and is a Senior manager with several years of overall experience. He is really good at his job, yet he cribs every day about his job to anyone who will listen. He dreads weekdays and waits for the logout time. He is extremely happy on Friday evenings and in a very bad mood starting Sunday afternoons. He decides not to support during weekends, but most weekends he needs to reply to emails on his company mobile.
His inner voice has been nudging him to leave his job and search for other opportunities. His inner voice even succeeded in making him create a new resume and start a job search, though it didn’t last. He continues to crib to his friends, family, neighbors and colleagues from other teams, at times even his dog. He is clearly unhappy, and any time anyone suggests him to start looking out, he finds himself presenting 100 excuses as to why that is not possible right now. I want you to stop here, before thinking that James is clearly in denial and he should know better, ask yourself, is this what you may also be doing? Observe yourself for the next two days and make a mental note of what you talk about the most throughout the day. If you are an introvert, make a note of what you think about most throughout the day. I guarantee you; you will be shocked. You will be shocked to observe how much you whine, complain, and complain some more. You may complain about the government, the management in your company, the roads with potholes, the water crises, the weather being too hot, and on and on. But if you are unhappy at your job, it will clearly reflect in your words and thoughts. This is what I observed in myself a few years ago. For those who do not observe this, kudos for being in a peaceful state. For the rest, you are not alone. When I noticed this, I wondered when I changed from this optimistic, happy-go-lucky, enthusiastic, and happy person to someone I could barely recognize. I still smiled through the day and being an extrovert, I always spoke with high energy, externally I never noticed this change, only when I stopped to observe myself, like a third person watching myself on TV, only then did I notice the subtle yet powerful shift of gears in my energy.
Remember, Thoughts become things. I was creating my reality by my thoughts and hence nothing new was happening, this was a classic time loop. Coming back to James, he too is in a time loop, praying for something external to change his circumstances. Waiting for the company to realize his importance and reward him for his success, for his boss to recognize his hard work, for his team members to recognize his value, for him to get a big win/client so he can prove his worth, or that he wins a lottery and buys an island. He has the power to make changes in his life, he is intelligent and smart, and successful and yet he fails to make a move. He knows he needs to change his job, but his fears kept him stuck, he is unable to distinguish between his fears and his intuition and so he has decided to stop listening.
He is aware of the issue; he has tried creating a resume and searched for some jobs online and latest trends in the job market. He has discussed at times with his friends and family about moving, and now he has moved into denial. The classic symptom of denial is escapism. He plans a trip to Goa with his friends and decides to look for answers at the end of a beer can. The trip is super fun and he comes back refreshed and enthusiastic about work, but this enthusiasm lasts one week. The same gnawing feeling inside resurfaces and this time comes with physical symptoms. He starts getting headaches, backpain, and digestive issues, leading to sleepless nights. Everyone concludes the root cause to be stress, including his doctor. Don’t take stress, do yoga and eat well are the advice he receives from everyone. He agrees that stress is the problem and he tries all the above healing techniques. The result – nothing changes, because no one found the root cause, only treating symptoms can never cure the disease. Infact, it gets worse, he starts getting irritable at work. If you have been experiencing any physical symptoms and the blanket diagnosis is stress, you should stop and introspect. Stress in itself can never be a cause, it is a symptom. Are you avoiding or burying an inevitable change in life? Have you postponed a decision for too long? Or are you in the middle of a life-changing decision?
James continues to work oblivious to the root cause. One fine day, an argument erupts with his boss. Words are exchanged that would not have been otherwise and James storms out of his office. He starts searching and applying for jobs, but he is extremely angry and frustrated. In this mental state, all he cares about is leaving the current organization and so he accepts the best paying option and moves out. The role, the company culture, long term effects on his career all take a back seat. He needs out and since he is really good at his skills, he achieves his goal. Do you think he would have approached this a different way, had been calm and composed? If James had realized that his issues were not due to stress, he would not have suffered so much and rushed into a decision.
This is where we need to mention decision fatigue and intuition. Decision fatigue is caused by taking too many decisions over a long period of time, such that your brain is fatigued and the quality of your decisions is affected. This in turn affects the quality of your life. Change is an inevitable part of life, but successful people know how to ride the wave of change and not get dragged in by the wave. Awareness of decision fatigue and the role of intuition in life can catapult you to another level. Let us re-look at James, he was aware of his unhappiness in his current job. He knew something had to change and he knew he would find other opportunities. If he was aware of the stress caused due to decision fatigue and learned to filter out his intuition from the noise within, he would have moved out months ago. He would not have rushed out and spoilt his relations with his existing boss. He would have planned and executed his job search with patience, accepting only the offer that met his criteria and requirements. The physical symptoms of stress would not have wreaked havoc on his body and he would have saved a lot of time, energy, money, peace of mind and happiness by deliberate living.
Whenever you are stuck, you start feeling suffocated first on your mental plane. Observing oneself during this time yields critical data about oneself. Why am I unhappy? What is the biggest challenge in my life today? Such questions can instantly bring awareness. The next steps can be gamechangers. Instead of discussing and getting overwhelmed with information, gathering facts and remaining quiet is the key. Silence and inner reflection can get you precise answers. Connecting with a mentor or a decision coach, understanding your options and weighing pros and cons with patience, and most importantly checking with your gut feeling or intuition. This takes practice, as being in sync with one’s intuition takes daily practice and meditation. Taking a holistic decision, without the rush, urgency, and panic, charting clear next steps, and moving into execution mode are the winning mantras to life.
I recently published a book “In Two Minds?” explaining in detail the perils of decision fatigue, stress, and basics of decision-making, how Tarot can serve as a powerful tool in decision-making. Over the last 7 years, I have helped numerous individuals make pivotal life decisions. I observed the need for a decision coach, someone who can help individuals understand their intuition and strengthen their decisions. So, I created a unique service for those stuck in decision paralysis, combining my management experience with the psychic art of Tarot. This program brings a support system to identify the best option and moves leaders & executives toward decision freedom within ONE Hour. So, if you are a leader, executive, a professional struggling with a career or life decision, then check out my short free webinar on my website www.thorvidamle.com under the training section, and book a free decision strategy call with me, so we can start planning the best way forward.
Wishing you loads of success!