This last week I've been busy just like everyone else. Over the weekend I had the unique opportunity to spend some time with different sets of my friends. One in particular is floating on chaos. Thriving in it, breathing it, just swimming and snorkelling in a sea of chaos!
As we spoke about how to find clarity and direction amongst the many challenges, opportunities, and possibilities he faced an interesting question arose. Typically when I see someone struggling to choose, fighting to find their bliss the question "Why are they struggling?" comes to mind. Those who know me will realize how hypocritical that is of me, but it's reality and helpful none the less.
If you have read the Moving Forward series, you are familiar with concepts such as Hidden Benefits, Limiting Beliefs and the Two Questions. One of the easiest ways to begin moving forward is to examine motivations (read the Moving Forward series for more detail) but sometimes even that doesn't provide enough insight to get someone unstuck. In this case, a little helpful technique called First, Sacrifice.
This technique is useful in cases where you can't choose because you are waiting for someone else to make the first move. You don't want to commit, you don't want to sacrifice, until you know if the move (the sacrifice) will be worth it. To unstick it, you must first, sacrifice. Pay the price, make the move, do the deal, whatever the choice may be. If you aren't willing to be the first mover, then you weren't really invested in that particular option to begin with.
For example, you would like to relocate to another city because you think you can find a better job there. You've researched it and the cost of living is easier, the schools are better, the jobs more abundant, maybe the weather is even nicer. You tell yourself, as soon as I find a job there, I'll move. All I need is to land a position and then I'll sell my house and get to moving.
Anytime you hear "you go first" rationalizations it's a good bet that First, Sacrifice will unstick the thinking. Tell yourself to sell the house, get the move happening, and the job will come. First make the sacrifice, then reap the benefit. Nothing motivates you to forward progress like the very real possibility of failure. Nothing increases your focus on the intangible aspects of a decision like making that decision and sticking with it.
Of course, you don't actually have to just jump in. Just putting yourself in the situation of having made the sacrifice first will often bring the intangibles, the hidden benefits, and the limiting beliefs into sharp relief. Simply being willing to act as if you already paid the price, bit the bullet, sent the note; this can crystalize the full accounting and make it obvious that you are ready (or not), willing (or not), and able (or not).
Next time you get stuck waiting on someone else to act, trying seeing what it's like to give in first.