One of the main reasons that career decisions can be so hard once you’re a mom is that it can seem like you’re limited by your external circumstances. My clients often feel economically or geographically constrained by their mortgage, kids, spouse, etc., and they get stuck in the rut of thinking that those circumstances are preventing them from taking action or having the life that they want.
You do have a choice
Even when you feel constrained by your circumstances, in reality you always have a choice. Our circumstances are not what cause us to feel stuck. It’s our thinking about our circumstances that creates the feeling of being stuck.
The first step is recognizing that you always get to choose. When a client that I’ll call Jane came to me, she felt utterly trapped. She told me that she had to stay at her job that she hated because she had to pay her mortgage. She said she desperately wanted to move back to California, but she insisted that she had to stay on the East Coast because her husband didn’t want to leave his job. She said that she couldn’t leave her job because she had to provide for her kids and because their family relied on her income. But the problem was not her circumstances. It was that she didn’t realize that she had a choice in the matter.
Telling ourselves that we “have” to do something that we don’t like is a negative thought that creates negative emotions such as dread, feeling trapped, or even despair. Realizing that we actually have a choice changes our feeling about our current circumstances. And how we feel drives the actions that we take (or don’t take), which determine our results.
In reality, Jane could choose to leave her job and use savings to pay her mortgage or default on the mortgage. Or she could choose to sell her house and move to an apartment with more affordable rent.
She could choose to divorce her husband and move back to California.
She could even choose to leave her kids behind.
When I offered those as options, Jane did not want to do any of those things. She did not like the consequences of doing those things, but when she realized that it was her choice, it put her back in the driver’s seat of her own life. It allowed her to take 100% responsibility for herself and leave behind the powerless victim role that she had been creating with her prior thoughts.
Own Your Choice
Let me be clear that I’m not advocating for defaulting on your mortgage or leaving your family. What I’m advocating is that you consciously make a deliberate choice about what you really want and then own that choice like a boss. Because that’s where your true power lies.
Notice the difference:
- “I can’t quit my job because I have to pay my mortgage” becomes “I choose to work at this job right now because I want to pay my mortgage and live in my house.”
- “I can’t relocate because my spouse doesn’t want to leave” becomes “I am choosing to find opportunities here because I would rather stay with my spouse here than divorce and relocate.”
- “I have to support my kids” becomes “I am choosing to work for money to provide for my family.”
This is more than just semantics.
The thoughts that we choose to think create our feelings, and those feelings drive our actions or inaction. When we think negative thoughts (i.e. that we “have” to do something) and we feel dread, trapped, or despair, those negative feelings keep us stuck in inaction or drive us to take actions that don’t serve us, such as reaching for a pint of ice cream. When we deliberately choose, we feel empowered, which drives us to take massive action and get unstuck.
What about you? What are you telling yourself that you “have” to do or you “can’t” do? What feelings are those thoughts creating for you? What are those feelings driving you to do (or not do)? What result is that creating in your life?
If you want more help figuring out how to get unstuck and start taking action, contact me to schedule a free strategy session.
Go forth and bloom.
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