Although I am not a history buff by any means, I do love the stories of history; the tales that unfold in real people and how they have impacted our world today intrigues me. Years ago, when I homeschooled my kids, the favorite part of my day was after lunch when we would read history stories together. The kids would choose a character and we’d study that person and his or her life.
One particular story that still stands out to me is that of Julius Caesar. In 49 BC, Caesar was at a cross roads in his life and had to make a difficult decision. As he and his army approached a small stream, the now legendary Rubicon, Caesar knew the magnitude of the repercussions of him crossing it; life would be forever changed. He made the tough decision and forged forward.
This led to:
- A Civil War
- Caesar himself becoming dictator of Rome
- The rise of the Imperial Roman Empire
Julius Caesar wrote his own story.
That was January then – this is January now.
What is your Rubicon?
We All Face Rubicons in Life: The Point of No Return
- Do you stay in this job or take that new opportunity?
- Should you buy this house or that one?
- Do you have that difficult conversation or keep staring at the elephant in the room?
- Should you stay in this relationship or leave?
- Do you go to this school or that one?
When facing difficult decisions, the important thing to understand is that it’s not about the decision. It’s about the power you exercise when you make those decisions; it’s about who you become by making hard decisions.
According to Ruth Chang, Philosopher at Rutgers University, “People who don’t exercise their normative powers in hard choices are drifters. Drifters allow the world to write the story of their lives.”
That’s a pretty sobering truth. How can you avoid being a drifter and write your own story? Let’s look at 3 ways to empower yourself when facing difficult decisions.
1. Choose the Right Perspective
Ultimately, there is truly only one thing you have control over in life; your perspective. It has been said that perspective is everything. Two people can look at the very same image and “see” two totally different things altogether.
The same is true regarding tough decisions. If your primary focus is on the decision, you will most likely have feelings of dread and anxiety. However, if you view the decision as a gift, you are more likely to see the experience as a potential for new opportunities and consequently welcome it with excitement and anticipation.
While most people magnify the decision, the better option is to concentrate on who you will become once you make the choice. Difficult choices are golden opportunities to become more in life; to live empowered and write your own life story. Difficult choices unearth a hidden power you have deeply embedded inside of yourself.
“If you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.” -Dr. Wayne Dyer
2. Make an Unwavering Commitment
Drifters fail to commit. Until you commit, there will always be hesitancy and the possibility to withdraw back into security; to be a drifter. Drifters basically are wannabes; they have the desire but that is where it stops. The difference between a doer and a wannabe is commitment.
Once you commit to something, your mind believes it and the neuroplasticity of your brain starts working in your favor; it’s as if you have already succeeded. A psychological upgrade occurs in your life once you commit to something; you alter your subconscious belief system about who you are and what you are capable of doing.
When you commit to something, you wrap your identity in the decision, embrace it and take ownership of it which in turn increases your confidence and your chances of success.
That’s the power of commitment; it changes what you believe and consequently your results. Basically, you cross the Rubicon; the point of no return.
3. Embrace Your Core Values
When was the last time you took an inventory of your top core values? Core values fuel your decisions and influence your attitudes, beliefs, and behavior. Your Core values are the fundamental beliefs that support your vision and reflect what you value. They are at the heart of what you are naturally inclined to do and form the basis of how your approach life.
The most successful people are those who know their core values and live accordingly. When having to respond to critical decisions, values-driven people are able to act quickly and appropriately.
You have all the resources you need at your disposal to be able to face and make difficult decisions and thrive. My goal for my clients is that once they build their personal infrastructure, they are empowered and learn how to coach themselves. My goal is the same for you. Ask yourself the following questions to help you coach yourself through difficult decisions:
- What is this experience going to teach me?
- How will I be better equipped for life after making this decision?
- How can I view this decision from 3 different frameworks?
- What is at stake if I don’t commit to choosing?
- What have I tried before?
- How much energy will it cost me if I don’t commit?
- How does this decision line up with my core values?
- What is not congruent with this decision and my core values?
- What is my gut telling me about this decision?
Let’s fast forward into the future. People are sitting in a room reading a story; your story. They’ve come to the chapter where you are facing your Rubicon. What will you do and how will it impact your life and the lives of those reading it?
What do you want your story to say about you? You are currently writing it so use your pen with courage, wisdom, and conviction.
The subject of today’s blog was inspired by two sources: my friend Mike who had absolutely no reservations when crossing his skydiving Rubicon, and Ruth Chang’s TED talk on hard choices: https://www.ted.com/talks/ruth_chang_how_to_make_hard_choices
Rita helps her clients:
• Embrace their true potential
• Change their limiting beliefs/thoughts
• Create Purpose
• Live Empowered, Confident, and Successful Lives
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