We all struggle at one time or another with making decisions in our lives. Since the pandemic, most of us have experienced the need for certainty in an uncertain world. We all know the old adage translation from Erasmus by Richard Taverner, “better the devil you know, than the devil you don’t”. This makes those hard decisions weigh harder on us; especially during times when the simplest of decisions seem overwhelming. Chalk this all up to what psychologist, Roy F. Baumeister, called “decision fatigue”. Like when just walking down a grocery aisle can flood us with heart palpitations due to having too many choices of salad dressings to pick from. It is no wonder stress, depression, and rage is on the uptick around things that seem so unimportant in the real scheme of our lives.
How do we get out of decision paralysis? Christine Kane from Soul Sourced Entrepreneur says it’s four steps: Intention, Decision, Results, and Biggest Challenges. Abby Davisson of Roadmap for Life’s Biggest Decisions has crafted a five-step: Clarify, Communicate, Choices, Check-ins, and Consequences. Deepak Chopra has clarified four steps: Emotions, Self, Vision, and Environment. You will find many; however, in the end, they all seem to have the three steps I have called my VPN. It’s my inner guidance system that leads me to the heart and soul’s destination where I can fulfill my wishes with conscious decisions and consistent, committed actions.
VPN stands for the three steps to making a hard decision easy:
VALUES: Know how you want to feel in every situation in life. What is your best state?
PRIORITIES: From those values, we can see easily what actions will provide us with that
NEUTRALIZER: Although the decision is hard because it requires standing up for
ourselves, facing adversity or opposition, and stepping out of the status
quo; it is also easy because it opens us up to the truth of what works for
us and frees us to do it our way. This can be a neutralizer to the nervous
system. This is why many experience a feeling of relief when they finally
make the right decision.
To connect to your VPN ask yourself these three questions:
What's in my way of making this decision in the first place?
What would happen if I....?
What would be the possible outcome if you do nothing? What if you let someone else deal with it?
Did it the "normal" way?
What would be the possible outcome if you did what is expected and/or what you normally do in this scenario? (Doing Nothing may be the same thing)
Did it another way?:
What would be the possible outcome if you did it another way you secretly wish for? (Doing Nothing may be the same thing)
3. What decision would make me feel relieved and free?
Let's tackle these three steps by taking you through one real-life problem I have had; so that, you see how this can work for you.
My boss was abusive, I made under 35k a year, and I had just turned 35 years old. I was broke, depressed, and stuck. I knew I had to make some hard decisions quickly that seemed impossible at the time. So how did I use the VPN Questions to get me unstuck? First, I had to know what my end game was. What were my values and what was standing in my way from feeling them through and through? Most times, what’s standing in the way is FEAR. Yep, that elusive elephant in the room that everyone sees but likes to deny exists. How do we tackle FEAR? We name it! We call it out for what it is and what it has led us to do or not do in our lives.
And then we ask, “Instead of fear, what do we wish to feel?” That feeling is our values. I wanted to feel autonomous and have a sense of freedom.
So I knew that working toward a virtual bookkeeping business would give me that but it meant baby steps. These were my priorities. I had to say “yes” to what would bring me autonomy and “no” to what did not. This meant questioning every time I was confronted with a choice and asking, “What would happen if I … “ and walking myself through the outcomes. If the outcomes felt freeing where I was autonomous then I had to say yes. But if they did not, I had to find another way.
In going through the VPN process, I slowly registered my LLC, imagined a new job until I got enough clients, stood up to my abusive boss, and left! It took 3 months to leave and 2 years to become a full-time successful entrepreneur but it was all worth it.
In The VPN Process I learned how to know what I want, find my yes, and bravely make the small steps toward it. You can too!
Check out my One Month Coaching Package to get started today!
In the March /April 2023 Natural Nutmeg Issue a better version of this article will be posted with an offer in the magazine for my new exclusive "Love Your Image" coaching package.