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You Must Choose to Succeed in Order to Get Ahead

10/04/2015 06:27 EDT | Updated 10/04/2016 05:12 EDT
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"Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be?"

- Marianne Williamson

Do you have friends who seem to over think things instead of making an instant decision? They waffle to and fro, deciding on one course of action one day, and reversing it the next?

Why does that happen? I believe several reasons come into play. First, there is just pure fear that you make the wrong choice and your life is changed forever. Certainly with major life decisions, this may be true -- to stay in an unhappy marriage, to have children or not -- but most other decisions are reversible or can take you down a different path.

Take young people and their career choices. Often they sweat bullets over the courses to take or career paths to follow, not realizing that in all likelihood they will have several different careers anyway. I know I have.

One of the bigger challenges today is that we have so many choices. So, how do you decide which is the best one for you?

When I am faced with a big decision, I still resort to the old pros and cons list, writing up what is in favour of one direction and what is against it. Mind you, after doing that and weighing up the consequences of what you decide to do, we often still go with our gut instinct. But sometimes just asking yourself "what's the worst thing that can happen?" helps you strategize and helps make the decision less scary.

Talking through your options with someone else helps, too, particularly if they are objective and have no vested interest in you going one way or the other, perhaps by pointing out their observations on the situation or asking probing questions. You'll have possibly reached your own conclusion by the end of the conversation.

Asking around and doing your homework can help inform your decision. My daughter did that recently when she decided to go back to school. She talked to professionals in the field she was proposing to enter, only to find that there were no jobs in what she wanted to do. Wisely, she went in another direction.

Sometimes the universe nudges you in the right direction. When that happens, you have to be alert and paying attention to the cues and clues coming your way. Starting your own business is a huge decision, although one that perhaps some of us have leapt into without much forethought.

But even when you've made that leap of faith, how do you decide what aspect of your business to pursue? I think initially you need to pursue a range of activities, because you don't really know which will pay off and the bills still have to be paid. But down the road, hopefully it will come more clear.

When I ran newbie groups for green entrepreneurs, so often what they started off with when they joined was not what they ended up doing by the end of the six-month-long program.

Why? Because as time unfolds and they got a clearer idea of what their business vision is from a practical perspective through what the marketplace was telling them, they would realize that they needed to fine tune what they were doing.

Yes, you do better when you focus, but you have to be sure that where you are spending your energy and time will in fact pay off for you -- both personally and professionally. If you don't like or love one aspect of your business, it may not be the one for you.

When I started Company of Women, I really wanted to do conferences -- it was an aspect of my previous work life that I enjoyed, and I was good at it, too. But early on it became really clear to me that to offer a conference out of the blue without building a solid base was not going to happen or be successful. It was four years in before I offered my first conference, because by then Company of Women had a following and I had a roster of great speakers from which to draw upon.

All of which means you don't give up on your dream -- you just build in integral steps to get you there.

I've found that once I've made a major decision, it wasn't as scary as I thought it was, and I wonder what too me so long. When you step outside your unhappiness, you find that there is a life and it is there for the taking. It is just getting over that first hurdle of making a move and once you've jumped that... you can win. You can get ahead.

Indecision in itself is a decision. It is deciding not to change the status quo, not to rock the boat and to stay within your existing cocoon, but like the caterpillar, you can choose to grow and evolve and become the beautiful butterfly soaring to great heights.

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