There’s a saying that goes something like this: To get something you’ve never had, you’ve got to do something you’ve never done. That’s absolutely true but I would argue that there’s a lot more to it than that. You’ve also got to think differently than you’ve been thinking, believe differently than you’ve been believing, and make decisions differently than you’ve made them in the past.
Decisions are really just thoughts and beliefs combined with action (or sometimes inaction).
To get different results, it’s worth taking a look at how you’re currently making your decisions.
Decision-Making From Your Past Versus From Your Future
Once we have established ourselves in our careers, the most obvious way to make decisions is to look backwards, at what has worked or not worked in the past.
The problem with this method is that it can be incredibly limiting when we’re trying to create something new or different. Making decisions as the person you have been, instead of the person you want to be, can leave you feeling clueless about what to do next.
Thankfully, there’s an alternative. It requires a little bit of imagination and also being open to the possibility that you can achieve what you want. It also requires using the uniquely human part of your brain that is called the prefrontal cortex. It’s what allows you to envision something that does not yet exist, create a plan, and then take action to move you forward.
Go To The Place Where You Already Have Your Desired Result
The key to getting what you want is making decisions as the person who has already achieved your desired results.
Imagine already having exactly what you want.
Imagine having the job, house, money, or book deal that you want.
Imagine being calm, confident, collected, organized–or however you wish you were showing up in your life.
Imagine actually being that person. Inhabit that space for a while in your mind. What would your days be like? What would your weeks be like?
Then ask that version of yourself: What should I do next to get closer to that result?
Would that version of you tell you to watch Netflix or work on your manuscript? Does she want you to avoid looking for a new job or commit to finding something you’ll love? Does she want you to avoid looking at your finances or finally take control of them?
Belief Comes Before Results
Stepping into that next version of yourself requires you to adopt a new belief system about what’s possible for you and then take action from that place, not from where you are now.
I had a client who wanted to present her research at conferences in her field, but she was terrified of public speaking. She had presented her ideas to peers before at conferences and had one experience of freezing up on stage that had made her want to avoid repeating the experience. She was making the decision to avoid taking action because she was convinced that she wouldn’t be able to handle another experience like that.
But part of her knew that she didn’t want to spend the rest of her career hiding. She had ideas and research that she wanted to share. And she realized that not sharing was not doing anyone any favors. It was not helping others in her field or patients who could benefit from her research. And it definitely was not helping her to have the career she wanted.
During a coaching session, I invited her to step into her Future Self, the part of her that already knows how to successfully present her ideas. What would her Future Self tell her to do?
The answer was clear and unequivocal: “Apply to present at the conferences. Put your work out there and share it with the world.” This felt terrifying to her primitive brain, the part of her that wanted to stay safe from potential criticism.
But with some coaching and learning to manage her mind, she learned that she could handle the discomfort of putting herself and her work “out there”. She allowed herself to feel the discomfort of being in the spotlight. She learned that she could do hard things and that it was worth it to create that results that she wanted.
Had she made the decision based on her past, she would’ve stayed safe in her comfort zone. But making the decision as her Future Self gave her what she needed to move forward.
Try It Out For Yourself
Imagine yourself three years into the future.
What would your Future Self want you to start doing today? What would she want you to stop doing? What would she want you to continue doing?
When you’re at the store and thinking about splurging on a new outfit, imagine having that same outfit hanging in your closet three years from now. Is your Future Self glad that you bought it?
When you’re feeling unhappy at your current job and deciding whether to start a job search, imagine yourself three years from now, having a job that energizes you. Is you Future Self glad that you invested in yourself instead of staying with the status quo?
What does your Future Self want you to believe about what’s possible for your life?
Take her advice. Those actions and beliefs are the key to getting from where you are to where you want to be.
Have a beautiful week.
P.S. If you’re struggling with making decisions from your past instead of from your future, I’d love to help you get unstuck and start moving forward. I offer free strategy calls to help you figure out how to get from where you are to where you want to be. I have only a few spots for these calls each week, so schedule yours here.