Jumping Without a Net:
4 Strategies for Landing Softly
After entering adulthood, an interesting thing happens to almost all of us. We find ourselves in situation after situation where we have to make decisions that are really important. This starts as soon as we leave high school. College or not? If college, where to go? What to study? If not college, what kind of work or trade school? And the need for decision-making never really stops.
When we are faced with these critical decision points, we often find we don’t have all the information we’d like to have in order to make the decision, so the outcome is unknown – the vision of the future can be murky. In other words, we know we need to jump, but we aren’t quite sure about the net.
What’s to be done in these situations? Many people, leaders, gurus are glad to give advice but at the end of the day, how do we actually know what to do? Or when to do it? How do we avoid the pitfall of paralysis – where the decision we make is to just not make a decision?
As coaches, we work with individuals facing important decisions all the time. While we don’t give advice per se, we have found that there are a few key considerations that seem to be helpful to our clients as they consider what step to take next (or to stick with the metaphor… whether to jump).
“I am the experiencer, not the experience.”
- What do my core values tell me? You may have noticed that we talk A LOT about core values. The reason for this focus is simple – the clearer we are on those things that are truly most important – the easier it may be to navigate life, and to make decisions. As an example, if integrity is a core value – then choosing everything from your career path to prospective employers can be informed by this. “Do I feel good about this kind of work? Does the leadership of that organization demonstrate the kind of integrity that I believe is important?” You get the point.
- “I am the experiencer, not the experience.” A wise woman, Mary Gonzales, recently shared this thought in a talk she was giving. It was a new way of considering the idea that we are all on a journey as opposed to simply moving toward a specific destination. This idea can be freeing to those of us that are making decisions. Knowing that each decision is simply a step along the journey can serve to reduce some of the pressure to make the “perfect” decision.
- Does this feel familiar? When we are in that moment of decision making, possibly feeling overwhelmed and unsure, it can be helpful to remember that we’ve likely been in similar situations before. We have faced important decisions in the past and there will be important decisions to come. How did you manage those prior decisions? If you feel you made poor decisions in the past, what have you learned? How might that inform this current decision?
- The idea of opportunity. Looking at life through the lens of opportunity can be very empowering. It can actually shift the entire thought process. Take a person in the midst of a job search. Of course, it’s important to focus on practical things such as potential income, location, hours, etc. But it can be equally helpful for this person to look through the opportunity lens: “What’s my opportunity to contribute to this organization – how will they benefit from my being a part of their team? What’s my opportunity to grow in this new organization – will I have the chance to develop my skills, forward my career, become a better leader?” This approach can even positively influence the interview itself, allowing the candidate to reinforce this idea of mutual opportunity.
At the end of the day, there’s often no way to ensure the net will be there when we jump, no matter how focused we are on planning, organizing, etc. But that fact doesn’t have to stop us from jumping anyway.
At the end of the day, there’s often no way to ensure the net will be there when we jump, no matter how focused we are on planning, organizing, etc. But that fact doesn’t have to stop us from jumping anyway. Keeping some of these thoughts in mind can be helpful as you navigate through your decision making. And if TLS can provide additional support to you or those that you know are in the midst of making important decisions, just let us know!