"Good decisions, bad decisions, at least you're making decisions" was the sage advice I once received. At the time, I thought it was crazy. Who wants to make bad decisions? But over time, I've learned that indecision can often be worse. Indecision and uncertainty can be dangerous, as the ability to analyze two sides of a problem and draw a timely conclusion are crucial, especially in the interconnected world we live in today.
An anonymous quote reads, "Indecision is the graveyard of good intention." I challenge you to think about how this applies to you. Do you feel that fear, or a sense of helplessness, stands in your way between where you are now and where you want to be? If you do, ask yourself WHY. Utilize the question of "WHY?" to get to the root of your inaction. It may take five or more why's to break down the amorphous uncertainty, but without doing so, you remain exactly where you were, without any clue as to what your next step should be. Asking yourself "why?" clarifies what is standing between you and your bold action. This questioning process won't take the action for you, but it will provide you with a greater certainty and a sense of control towards your next step.
Because we have become comfortable -- finding ourselves standing still in our comfort zones. Quite simply, our comfort zone is an easy place to be. We retreat to our comfort zones to feel a sense of ease and certainty. We know what to do within it. We know how to excel. Why question what works for us? Sometimes we shouldn't; however, when this place of retreat becomes a blockade between what our essential selves want, then we must challenge the status quo. But challenging the status quo isn’t fun. As a result, we may overstay our welcome in the comfort zone.
Without realizing it, from that function of comfort, comes the desolate and uninspiring interim. Most ironically, this period of waiting is a very uncomfortable place to be. I often don't notice that I'm waiting - standing rigid in my comfort zone. I trick myself into believing there is a good reason that I'm waiting for something external to happen. It is in this ambivalence that action seems to become a fantasy... a world away. Taking that leap of faith in yourself is scary, yet necessary.
Then indecision brings its own delays,
And days are lost lamenting o'er lost days.
Are you in earnest? Seize this very minute;
What you can do, or dream you can, begin it;
Boldness has genius, power and magic in it.
- Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
The action itself is not what we fear – it is our thoughts that are restraining. Break free from those thoughts and move towards action. Soon enough, small steps will become the equivalent of a giant leap toward the creative, the passionate, the driven, and the anew. Use these four steps to aid yourself in the process of revitalization.
1. Ask yourself tough questions. What is the cost of inaction? Create a "why not?" list and ask yourself if the benefits outweigh these negative thoughts. Think about the consequences of the status quo internally and externally.
2. Accept rational accountability. Decide to change your inaction and make yourself accountable for both your actions and inaction. I grew up learning that there are actions of commission and acts of omission. We are equally responsible for what we do and don't do.
3. Follow your own advice. If a friend were in the same scenario, what advice would you give him or her? Taking a step back from the problem or scenario might help you gain objectivity. Sometimes being too entrenched can cloud our judgment.
4. Always listen to your intuition. Do a gut check and gauge what the heart and mind can't. Remember that this requires little thinking... What's your first reaction? How do you viscerally respond to what's going on? If you have strong feelings, listen to them.
The bold action that you take doesn't have to be anything grandiose; it can merely be a step away from ambivalence and inactivity. We may not always get our decisions "right," but there is something both beautiful and powerful about taking action. What are you waiting for?
Are you stuck in a comfort zone? Or have you successfully overcome the strong magnetic pull of this place of inaction? Share your thoughts, questions, or sage advice below. (If you don't typically leave comments, begin taking bold action by starting today!)
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Copyright Carolyn Rubenstein
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