In this episode, Naomi introduces listeners to a decision making framework that can be used when they feel stuck or confused between options.
She uses an example for her own life when she was struggling to make a decision to illustrate how this framework helped her get unstuck and move forward.
Listen to this episode
What you will learn:
- About the framework Naomi uses and gives her clients when they need to make a big decision.
- Questions / journal prompts you can use in these situations.
Featured / Referenced:
Prefer to read? Download the full episode transcript:
Read the full episode transcript:
You are listening to the Dream For Others® podcast with Naomi Arnold, Episode 9.
Dream For Me, Dream For You, Dream For Others®. And now your host, award-winning life and business coach, Naomi Arnold…
I hope you’ve been enjoying the new podcast direction so far and I’m guessing if you’re listening to this right now, you’re not sick of me yet.
I’m hoping this episode will end up being particularly useful to you.
I thought I would talk to you today about making decisions. And I’m not talking about little decisions, I’m talking about BIG decisions
You know, those ones that you get stuck on.
The ones where you’re not feeling a BIG YES, or a HECK NO.
The ones where you’ve done the pros and cons list and am still feeling stuck.
The ones where you might have an inkling what you want to do, but fear or your inner critic is making you hesitate from moving forward.
I don’t know about you, but I’ve had those moments many times before. Where I’ve thought over and over and over and over about something and just can’t make a decision.
A lot of my life and business coaching clients frequently find themselves in a similar predicament too.
So I’m sure you can resonate, or will find yourself one day, stuck trying to choose between Option A or Option B, and think “Ohhhhh this is that feeling Naomi was talking about in that podcast episode…”
And when you find yourself in that moment, you’ll be able to use the framework that I use and that I give my clients when they find themselves in such a situation.
If you have a moment and it’s safe to do so, you might like to open the notes section of your phone or pull out your journal so you can record the journal prompts I’m about to share for future reference. But if not, that’s okay, I’m going to talk you through the process and you can easily return to this episode if you ever need to use the strategy suggested.
So the first thing I do when I’m confused or stuck on a decision that needs to be made is….
I’m deliberately saying heartstorm here because the brainstorm part is often easier or comes more naturally. We can often easily dump the options down from our head, but connecting to our heart or our intuition to seek options is often not considered.
So I’m not saying not to brainstorm, please do. I’m just using the word heartstorm to trigger your brain to consider options you may have otherwise missed too.
At this stage, don’t assess whether the option is feasible or not. Just put them all down on the page. And for some decisions there may not be options – it might just be “should I do this or should I not do this?” For others there might be a range of options. There is no right or wrong way of doing it – just get into the brainstorm/heartstorm mode and write down all of the options.
Once you’ve got all your options down on the page, I would then invite you to answer a series of questions against each and every option. So you are to go through each option and answer these questions.
Those questions are:
- What is the best that could happen if I do this?
- What is the worst that could happen if I do this?
- What is the best that could happen if I don’t do this?
- What is the worst that could happen if I don’t do this?
- What do I intuitively feel I should do?
So let’s use a decision that I found myself stuck on a few years back when I was considering enrolling in a life coaching course, but I wasn’t sure about the investment at the time or whether it was well-suited for me.
For simplicity let’s just explore the question – should I enrol in this life coaching course.
Question 1: What is the best that could happen if I do this?
Now this was about 5 years ago now, so we’re really relying on my memory here, but I imagine it was things like…
I could end up loving it and learning a lot.
I could end up feeling more confident about offering services in the self-help space.
By the time I finished I will have launched my business as a certified life coach and can be seeing clients right away.
It could lead to me having a successful business and being able to leave my current job. As a result, I would have the flexibility to move to the beach and work from home.
I would be able to support people in living their version of a healthy, happy and purposeful life.
I could meet amazing people and build friendships with other coaches and business owners who get me.
It will balance my psychology qualifications and government experience with a different skill set and approach, making my ability to serve in a quality way more robust.
I could quickly make back the investment in the course through offering coaching while I build my other services and offerings over time.
So these are some examples of things I may have written in my journal in response to this question.
So what is the best that could happen if I chose this option? The things I might love, the opportunities that might become available, the absolute best case scenario…
Question 2: What is the worst that could happen if I chose this option?
Again using the example of the life coaching course I was undecided about, my answers to this question at the time might have included…
I might end up disliking the course and finding that it does not align with the direction I want to head in.
I might not make back the investment and if I don’t enjoy the course that might feel like a complete waste of money.
I might not end up using what I learn.
I might end the course still not feeling clear or confident in what I’m going to offer.
I might end the course thinking I’m a terrible coach.
I might end the course still not feeling ready to work with people and support them in living a healthy, happy and purposeful life.
People I care about might judge me and think what I’m doing is foolish or silly.
So again, the question here was: What is the absolute worst that could happen? If all your fears came true and it ends up being a terrible decision, what might happen to make it so?
You’ll find that sometimes, you will feel something click already at question two. For example, you might realise that the absolute worst that can happen is not realistic and that your inner critic is taking you on a ride.
In these cases, you might like to use my process for working through fears and the inner critic – see episode 8 to examine each of these so you can move forward.
And in other cases you will realise these are legit reasons – a big NO might emerge.
Or a little whisper of a YES might begin to shine.
But then if you’re still not sure, you can then work through Question 3.
Question 3: What is the best that could happen if you don’t choose this option?
For me, I likely wrote things down like…
I’d go back to the cycle of researching my options.
I might find something better suited.
I might find the answers on my own. But there would still be a lot of uncertainty.
The best that could happen is that I would still… it just wasn’t that great. I couldn’t think of many things that I could list as the best that could happen if I didn’t proceed with the course.
So that question was: What is the best that could happen if you don’t choose this option? So if I don’t sign up for the course, what is the best that could happen.
If the answer is starting to lean toward a NO, you might have an abundance of options here that feel really good. If the answer is starting to lean toward a YES, you’ll find that the best that could happen is actually a pretty sad scenario. You’ll look at your answers and go, oh my gosh “the best that could happen if I don’t do this, is wayyyy more terrifying than the worst that could happen if I do.” You get my drift?
Question 4: What is the worst that could happen if I don’t choose this option?
So I could remain in the same place I have been for the past 8-10 years – unable to decide what action to take when it comes to changing my career.
I could keep searching and analysing and searching and analysing – the same cycle I’ve been doing forever.
I will have to stay in a job that makes me unhappy.
I won’t see a light at the end of the tunnel.
Nothing will change.
I could miss out on finding the clarity and finally moving forward.
I will continue to feel unfulfilled and dissatisfied.
So again, the question here was – What is the worst that could happen if I don’t choose this option? So in my case, if I didn’t go ahead with the course, what would be the worst case scenario?
A lot of times, if your answer is leaning toward a YES, you will find that the absolute worst case scenario out of all the possibilities is if you don’t choose the option. When you see it on the page like this, you realise that it’s a bigger risk to say NO than it is to say YES.
In other scenarios though, this list won’t feel so burdensome and you’ll start to feel a strong NO settle in.
I then repeat this process for any other options that might be on the table. So for the example I shared, the other course I was considering at the time was a Master in Clinical Psychology as I’d previously done a Bachelor of Psychology with Honours. So I then went through the same questions for this option too.
Then the final question I ask after having worked through all my options is…
After considering my options, what do I intuitively feel about them?
Usually by this point I have my answer – either through clarifying my responses to each of the questions OR because going through the process has allowed space for me to hear any intuitive nudges that might come up.
I often find, and my clients do too, that when they go through this process they will become aware of themselves secretly rooting for an option – so subtly trying to make one response sound more attractive, more ‘right’, than the others.
And in those cases, you can often admit to yourself, “hey, it looks like I already know what I want to do. I already have my answer. It’s time to trust myself here”.
These questions can also be useful for risk mitigation.
So if you do decide an option is a clear YES, but there are some legitimate concerns and risks – you can now work through these. How can you mitigate those risks? What can you do to protect yourself? What can you do to reduce the likelihood that they might occur? What can you do to prepare for this worst case scenario? What support might help?
Again in my case, when I went through this process, it became very clear to me that the life coaching course was what I wanted.
The only reason I was considering the Master of Clinical Psychology was that it seemed like a logical progression from my previous work. It also seemed more serious – like my government and academic friends would think it’s a wise choice. And I don’t know if they would have thought that – but it was what I was telling myself at the time.
Whereas the life coaching certification felt really aligned to me and what I wanted to do moving forward, but I was concerned that my government and academic friends would judge me and think it was a ‘fluffy’ or unscientific move.
When this became clear, I was able to work through some of these fears, show up in my power and choose the option that I knew was best for me.
I was also able to work through some of the risks that were associated with it – so really look at things like my finances and how I could manage this risk that concerned me. I was able to use the ‘worse case scenario’ responses to help me make decisions and put things in place that might help me feel like I had a plan if things didn’t work out how I expected them to.
And in this case, with hindsight, I can say it was the absolute best decision that I could have made – ultimately becoming one of the biggest ripples in what was to become this business.
So today I invite you to store this little decision-making framework in your memory bank and return to this episode whenever you think it might be useful. And if you think it’s something that your clients, friends or colleagues might find useful – please share it wide and far amongst your networks. The more people making decisions that are aligned for them, the more dreams for others will come to life.
I hope you have an excellent rest of the day and a week of easeful decisions.
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