I meet people all the time who want to change their lives– want to pursue their passions, want to quit their jobs, want to finally live life on their terms. But wanting is easy. Deciding, on the other hand, is scary. It moves us from just thinking about changing our lives to actually taking the necessary action to doing so. Today, I’m going to help you “flip the switch” from wanting to deciding. Because when we decide to do something, we find a way, not an excuse.
WHAT YOU’LL LEARN:
- Why your current circumstances have absolutely no bearing over what you’re capable of achieving
- The REAL differences between wanting and deciding
- What this concrete decision looks and feels like for you and your future
- What Ellen DeGeneres and I have in common 🙂
- How to “flip the switch” from wanting to change your life to deciding to change your life once and for all
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Welcome back everybody. Thanks so much for being here as always.
Today’s episode is titled, “The Decision to Change Your Life.”
Naturally, because of the field that I’m in, I’m approached by people all the time about wanting to change their lives– wanting to do something more meaningful with their days, wanting to quit their job, wanting to find a career they love, wanting to take a risk, wanting to break the rules and live life on their terms.
But wanting is easy, right? It’s easy for any of us to want something.
Deciding to change our lives is what’s scary. Because it moves us from just thinking about changing our lives to actually taking the action to change our lives. And that’s why there are far less people actually changing than there are people wanting to change their lives.
Now although deciding can be scary because it involves facing our fears head on and breaking social norms, it’s also incredibly liberating. When we decide, I’m going to do this, that’s the moment that the shackles come off and we’re able to freely explore the possibilities and make shit happen for ourselves.
Just the other night, I was watching the Ellen DeGeneres stand up on Netflix with Nathan and OMG I was dying laughing. I not only love stand-up comedy…I think it’s such an easy way to add humor and laughter into your everyday life, but I also love Ellen, so it was kind of a twopher for me.
Anyway, throughout her standup, Ellen would talk about some heavier topics, that she’d then transition into humor. Things like her coming out, her battle with depression and even the death of her ex-girlfriend.
Well, she begins to talk about a time in her twenties, when she had no money and was sleeping on a mattress on the floor in a basement apartment that was infested with fleas. And one night, as she lay there on this mattress, surrounded by fleas, and desperate for some guidance, she thought: wouldn’t it be cool to talk to God on the phone?
And from that question, she begins to rapidly write in a journal, in a complete state of flow and when she was done, she read it back and thought: this is hilarious.
And then in that very moment, she decides: I’m going to do this on the Johnny Carson show (The Tonight Show) and be the first woman in the history of the show to be asked to sit down.
Just like that. As quickly as a snap of the fingers.
Now, at that time, her decision– and I’m being intentional there when I say decision. Because it was a decision. It wasn’t a: Oh I want this to happen. I wish for this to happen. Or even this is my goal for this to happen.
No, it was: THIS IS WHAT’S GOING TO HAPPEN.
Do you see the intention behind that statement? There’s a greater strength and force behind that statement.
Versus I’d like for this to happen. Those statements are polar opposite.
Anyway, her decision at that time would seem wildly improbable to people on the outside.
I mean here she is, 21-old years old, broke, a female (which trying to break out into the entertainment business at the time in the 1980’s as a female was a feat in itself), not to mention…she wasn’t a singer, she wasn’t an actor, she wasn’t a dancer, and really at that time, she wasn’t even considered a comedian. What she had was a few sheets of paper.
But who she was…was somebody who had a strong desire to do something and the strong belief in herself to back it up. And that’s it. That’s it you guys.
She made the decision– I’m going to perform this on Johnny Carson because I am talented– I am funny, I am entertaining– and I’m capable of doing so.
End of conversation. No ifs, ands or buts about it.
And of course she went on to do it. I think it was 4 years later, she performed and sat down on The Tonight Show.
That is the power behind consciously making a decision to change your life. When you make a decision to do something, you find a way, not an excuse.
Excuses rise to the surface when there’s just a want. I want to quit my job, but…
I want to open a café, but…
I want to go back to school for my law degree, but…
That sense of want turns into hope. And hope is very passive. Hoping for something to happen means waiting for something outside of ourselves to change and provide us with that something.
I want to start an online business, but I don’t know where to start. I don’t have enough money to get it going. I don’t have the resources. I don’t have the time to sit down and work on it. But hopefully, one day that’ll change. Hopefully, one day I’ll have more time and more money and be more focused.
That kind of thinking is what keeps people stuck and stagnant.
Think about something that you want. Something you’d like to see happen in your future. And notice that passive attitude you have toward it. I’m willing to bet that you haven’t made that concrete decision for yourself, yet.
When I was watching Ellen’s stand up, I loved that she chose to share that story because 1.) I love when public figures use their platform as an opportunity to inspire others by just telling their stories, keeping it real and saying, “Hey, the odds were against me too. I didn’t just catch a lucky, big break. No, I made my big break happen for me. I could’ve easily had a million excuses– no money, no resources, no chance. But I chose to think differently.” I loved this story because it brought me right back to when I too made the decision to change my own life.
And side note, the title of her stand-up is Relatable. Which if you’ve watched it, she in a very hysterical way points out how very different her celebratory, elite lifestyle is from her viewers, but because she’s so masterful in her comedic craft, most viewers leave feeling closer to her than ever before.
Including myself. Not only could I relate to the anxiety she feels at a restaurant when the waiter isn’t writing down the orders or her frustration with slow drivers, but I could also fully relate to her gutsy decision that night in her basement.
Although, I wasn’t sleeping on the floor in a basement infested with fleas, I felt the same pain that she had felt. I felt the same hunger for more that she felt.
People will ask me all the time– Oh my gosh, how did you have the courage to just quit your job, with nothing else lined up , in debt, with bills to pay? How did you bring yourself to take such a big risk?
And my answer is and has always been…
I woke up one morning and just decided that I was going to make it my mission to find a career that I loved and I wasn’t going to stop or settle until I did. It was that one decision that was the catalyst for everything that would come next in my life. It was the catalyst for quitting my job that same morning, moving cross country, diving into self-help, doing my own self-discovery work, building my coaching business and now getting paid to do what I love.
For the 9 months at my first corporate job and for the 9 months at my second corporate job, I wanted my life to be different.
I hated sitting in a cubicle. I hated being treated like a child who had to ask to use the restroom. I hated selling radio ads– because I didn’t give a crap about radio.
I wanted to not dread going into work every day. I wanted to be making more money. I wanted to work in a better environment. I wanted to be obsessed with my job. I wanted to love Mondays as much as I loved Saturdays. I wanted to work for myself and have the freedom to work on whatever projects I wanted to work on.
I wanted all of these things for about a year and a half. But wanting and hoping that these things would come to fruition didn’t change my life. I was still walking over to my cubicle and punching in.
The day my life actually changed was the day that I decided to change it. Because all of a sudden guys, all the excuses melted away.
All the excuses that I was hanging onto for a year and a half melted away. Things like, I can’t quit, because it will look bad on my resume. People will think I’m an idiot if I leave this job. I’ll never find something else. I won’t have enough money.
As soon as I made the decision, I’m going to find a career that I love, that’s when the magic happened.
I made the decision. And the strong belief that backed it up (for me), was I know I have so much potential.
And again, just like Ellen who was convinced she had so much comedic talent (with a few sheets of paper), I was convinced I had so much potential, without any idea what that potential actually looked like.
I mean that is how powerful our minds are. That’s how much power they have over the trajectory of our life– over the everyday both big and small decisions.
So again, from an outsider’s perspective, it seemed improbable, impractical and unrealistic. I had almost $100K in debt, monthly bills that weren’t going to magically stop, no clue as to what I’d do next, no business degree or an ounce of business knowledge to work for myself. It all seemed like a reckless dream that would come crashing down on me in time.
But when we decide this is what’s going to happen, sure other people in our life will have their own fears and reservations about it, however…the freedom and liberation that you feel makes it all OK.
You realize the magnitude of the decision and the scariness of the unknown, but the truth behind the decision is a clear indicator, that this is the right direction. Nothing feels better than that (especially because chances are you’ve been traveling in the wrong direction for so long). And then you TRUST and then you just GO. And you go on this journey that’s not always smooth, but in the core of your soul, you know you’re on the right path. And that knowing is what keeps you going– until you’ve landed The Tonight Show, until you’re an entrepreneur, until you’re graduating law school or cutting the red ribbon at the opening of your café.
That stuff doesn’t happen you guys from wanting or wishing or hoping. It comes from deciding.
Now, you might be thinking, OK, Shaina: I know what I want, but how do I just make a decision with that much conviction?
That’s a great question, and I’m not going to lie, I find this question difficult to answer. And the reason being is that if you were to ask me specifically, how did you do that? I’d say, I don’t know, I just did. It’s like the decision came through me.
Like I don’t really think there’s a step by step guide to deciding– first take out a piece of paper and pen, write down your declaration with a black marker, scream it from a rooftop and then burn it up, while chanting “I will.”
It’s more of this internal shift– like a flip of a switch that happens.
And I know that answer sucks, because it stills leaves you wondering, How do I flip that switch? So first, here are the similarities that I recognized in Ellen’s story and my own:
1.) We were both in a low place.
2.) We were both asking for guidance and opening ourselves up to a higher power for an answer.
For most of us (unfortunately) it takes hitting rock bottom for us to experience this shift in thinking. Ellen was depressed when she made that decision. I was depressed when I made my decision. And I almost hate to say that because I do NOT want to put this subconscious belief in your mind that you have to reach a point of depression for this to happen, because you don’t. I think it’s easier to go after something, when we get to the point where we literally have nothing to lose.
However, it does NOT need to get to the point where you’re down to your last dollar, having an emotional breakdown on the floor of your bathroom, OK?
You can avoid that rock bottom experience, by just waking the F up. Taking a step back from your life and observing it in a new way, from a new perspective.
Getting real with yourself and saying– OK, if I keep doing things the same way I’ve been doing them, what is my life going to look like in 5 years? Probably the same way it does now. Sometimes just seeing the road your headed down in your mind’s eye can generate that hunger for change and ultimately make that concrete decision for yourself– whatever that might be.
I know for some people, this flip of the switch can happen just by reading a book, listening to somebody tell their inspiring story, or hey even listening to a podcast episode like this one.
Now if you are the type to feed your brain with a lot of self-improvement information–awesome. Just be careful that you’re not mistaking the “high” you get from the information as taking action. Because again being inspired to changing your life and actually changing it are two very different things.
My advice to you is to ask yourself those hard hitting questions about your present and your future. Am I happy right now? What needs to change right now? What lies and excuses am I buying into?
Guys, you’ve gotta bring the problems to the surface. Because that’s what happens when we’ve hit rock bottom right? It means that all of our problems are steering us in the face. We’re swimming in the pool of all the messiness.
So if you’re looking to flip that switch, you must stop trying to avoid, ignore and resist what’s happening in your own life.
And my last “tip” for you…is to find your sense of urgency. Oh boy, this will put some juice in your electrical switch, for sure!
For Ellen, it was I want to be the first woman on Johnny Carson. For me, it was I want to be in my dream career by the age of 30. Otherwise if this doesn’t happen, I’m going to still be living with fleas on the floor. Otherwise, I’m going to still be having an emotional breakdown every day in my car before a sales appointment.
Use time and a strict deadline to your advantage– Oh my gosh, my 30th birthday is around the corner. This is not how I want my life to be in my 30’s. OMG, the deadline for applications is in 3 months. If I miss the deadline, I’ll have to wait an entire year to apply again.
Lastly, identify why YOU deserve this– why you are so damn special and this decision to XYZ will happen for you.
You must have that confidence and strong belief to back it up because that’s what’s going to drive you to pulling the trigger.
So to recap. Ask yourself the hard hitting questions and bring your areas of least satisfaction to the surface, instead of waiting until you hit rock bottom. Until the Universe has to step in and say, Dude, if you aren’t going to take control here, I’m going to throw some big ass red flags your way until you wake up. It doesn’t need to get to that point. And then once you’re clear about what you want to change, you want to find that sense of urgency.
What are you not willing to tolerate anymore and why? What deadline is approaching? Really grab a hold of that “life is too short” mentality.
And then, you want to lay out all the reasons why you’re so deserving of this thing that you’ve decided you’re going to achieve.
OK my friends, so as we wrap up here, once again I just want to remind you that the only permission you need to get what you want is your own.
You get to decide…this is what I want and this is what’s going to happen because I am blank.
When you can form that statement and say it with conviction, there will be no space between what you want and you going out there and getting it.
That’s it for today guys. Thank you so much for listening as always. I’ll see you next time.