You Don't Need to Know Everything
One of the biggest barriers I so often see standing in the way of people living fulfilled and happy lives, is a demand to know the outcome before they take any action.
We feel that, unless we know exactly what will happen as a result of a decision, we can make no decision at all.
And so we stay stuck, desperate for change but unwillingly to make a move.
There’s a misconception at the heart of this – a powerful one, I admit. The misconception is to do with certainty, and the belief that we can possibly know the outcome of a string of choices - sometimes projecting months or years into the future - before we have even taken one step.
The interesting thing here is that, when we try and decide in this way, we have little to no interest in what is actually important to us right now – instead, we are trying to make decisions based on possible future scenarios. And we are often paralysed into inaction until we believe we can be assured of a successful future.
The truth is, we don’t know what will happen next. The only useful and accurate information is what we believe to be right for us, right now – not how we think we might feel if X happens in six months’ time.
You see, there is no map for life. We can’t plan the journey out in advance.
Life is like night driving - you see only as far as your headlights reach.
You see the bend in the road and you take it. You see the turn you need just ahead and you make it. You see obstacles and you avoid them.
You don’t go wrong – even though you can only see what is just ahead of you and not beyond.
You don’t go wrong because this is all you need to know – the next thing to do.
And just as soon as you have done this, you see the next thing that there is to do. And then the next, and so on.
And we know what there is to do next - the thing that’s important to us - when we take a breath, stop, allow our thinking to settle and listen for the wisdom that is already present, but which has been drowned out by all the ‘what ifs’ and our desire to forecast certainty far into the future.
Now, I’m not suggesting we don’t plan at all, that we set no course or direction. I am simply pointing out that we can’t know what the outcome of step 23 will be before we’ve even taken step 1! And it’s our misunderstanding that this kind of certainty is actually possible that often keeps us pinned in place.
When we abandon our attachment to the idea of a map and certainty, we consider only what feels right for us, right now.
And we can then ask ourselves, in relation to what seems simple and right for me right now, what One Thing can I do towards this? It could be as small a thing as making a phone call or sending an email. And we do it.
And then the next step makes itself known.
Before we know it, we are gathering momentum, acting instinctively and heading in a direction that feels right for us but without a stifling attachment to how we get there or exactly what it looks like.
When we take a breath and allow our thinking to settle, let go of our attachment to a precise outcome, and follow what our intuition is guiding us to do today, we suddenly find we are spurred into action and the decision about what we should do is actually not so difficult after all….
* This article was first published as part of my regular column for https://iwconnected.com/london-magazine/