How Much Should You Trust Your Gut?
A LinkedIn discussion started with the question: Do you trust your gut in making big decisions or do you have a process that you follow?
I was surprised by how many business women trust their gut exclusively. I believe that’s a mistake. Not the trust your gut part, but the exclusively part. And I say that coming from a lifetime of being pretty intuitive. I can honestly say my “gut-o-meter” is better than most. Still, in times of stress, I know how easy it is to confuse a gut feeling with fears and wants.
Too often I’ve listened to women who tell stories about jumping into something because some feeling says “yes” even when everything else says “no” or “wait” to get more information. They are willing to get involved with that “bad news” guy or get talked a business partnership that could never work out except on paper. When asked “what would happen if…” questions, too many women are willing to say something like “I”ll worry about that if it happens.” Later, when something goes bad, most women admit, “I had a feeling about that, but I ignored it.”
Trusting your gut is easier when you’ve looked at all sides and faced potential problems. Yes, it’s true you can spend too much time weighing pros and cons and lose an opportunity. What’s more likely, however, is that you’ll only focus on the good potential outcomes and ignore the rest. You can get into more trouble by not looking at all the things that could go wrong and determining how you will handle them if something happens.
On top of that, in the middle of a do-over, your intuition can get clouded by stress. It can also get clouded by the desire to get to the end or the pressure to make a decision. Any of those can gunk up the channel to your higher self.
How do you avoid that? Look at what you want to do, then:
- List of all the good outcomes
- List all known obstacles
- Get input from people you trust. That may or may not be family and friends. It might be really good to get help from a coach or counselor.
- Brainstorm how you could handle those obstacles
- Be honest with yourself about your physical and emotional ability to deal with the obstacles and its remedy
- Let’s say you want to buy a house. You find one you really love and the realtor says you can afford it. Yet it’s at the very high end of your price range. Still, you really, really want it. On the upside, it’s in a great location so there’s a 99% chance it will appreciate in value. On the downside, it needs some work. You think your gut is telling you to buy it, telling you how happy you’ll feel living there. But the obstacles include living in the home for a while before you can redecorate, furnish and upgrade. Can you live with that? Will the stress put a strain on your personal relationship, and maybe other relationships?
- Once you know what obstacles you could be facing, figure out how you will handle them.
- In my success workshops I teach women to list out whatever obstacles they can so those can be dealt with up front, or at least prepared for in advance. That preparation can relieve some stress and, as a result, let real intuition float into consciousness and be helpful.
- Sit down with the pros and cons. Now you’re better prepared to make an intuitive decision. Sit quietly and let your gut talk to you.
- If you feel a ‘yes’ then go forward. But pay attention and be open to a ‘no’ if it comes up (that is, don’t ignore your gut).
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