Have you ever tried to talk yourself into doing something that you didn’t really want to do?
Maybe you wrestled between two paths…both had pros and cons and you just couldn’t figure out which path was right for you.
I like to think that I’m pretty clear on my desires and that I know what I want in my life in most instances, but often it’s just not that simple.
Sometimes decisions battle it out in my mind and cause me anxiety or delay, especially if the decision involves money.
How do you sense when is “enough”?
As a writer, I’ve built relationships with editors in the last few years and I feel grateful that the editors I’ve worked with still know and remember me. I’m grateful that my relationships are such that often editors come to me rather than I having to pitch stories to them.
It’s a great place to be. And I feel good about the work that it took to get there.
I used to be the kind of person who took any freelance job, no matter how little it paid or who was asking. I was hungry for work. And whatever it took, even if it meant burning the candle at both ends, even if it meant working for $10 an article, I made my deadlines.
But it exhausted me. And then there was a part of me that began to kick myself for taking on too many projects, getting too little sleep, and stressing myself out. It got to the point where I started to question why I was working so hard in the first place.
This is when I knew I was losing my focus; I was forgetting my intention behind all my heard work.
I recently had this dilemma when I was invited to write a feature story for an international travel magazine. Being a feature story, nice glossy cover with a high word count, I knew it could be a profitable project, not to mention the byline and all the interesting things I would discover while researching the story.
Plus, I had been increasing my assistant’s work hours so the opportunity for extra cash sounded really good.
With that, I eagerly replied to the editor, letting her know that I would come back with some story ideas.
Then the knot in my stomach set in, the slight unease that I knew was there even while I was writing back to the editor.
I already had two big projects on my plate both due within a couple of weeks. And the deadline for this feature story was only in three weeks. Plus, I was preparing for a writing class I was going to teach the coming month. And I had an important upcoming family function I was helping my mom with, not to mention attending to life with my family at home.
Suddenly I knew I had bitten off more than I could chew.
When You Deny Yourself the Truth
But what about that glossy cover article? What about the byline? What about the chunk of change I could get writing the article? It would certainly be a nice piece in my portfolio…
My mind was going on and on.
I could fit it in, why not? So I might lose some sleep, so I might feel under pressure. It’s nothing I haven’t gone through before. It’ll be like college again! You know, just like when I had six midterm essays due the same week! You’ve done this, I told myself. You can do it again. And you’ll get a check in the mail for it!
I kept going back and forth in my mind. My gut was saying “You’re going to stress yourself out!! You’re going to be working through your weekends!” But my mind kept saying “But wait! That’s $$$ extra dollars!”
I really didn’t know what to do. I felt kind of stuck.
But then I realized “Hey wait, I run my own freelance business; I can call the shots and take projects when and from whom I want. There’s no one that’s telling me what to do right now. I can ultimately decide how hectic my schedule will be. That’s the virtue of working for myself! I CAN decide my own schedule!”
Looking back, it seems obvious. But when you’re in the thick of things, caught between decisions, it can be hard to step back, take a deep breath and realize that, at the end of the day, employee or business owner, you make the decisions in your life. No one’s stopping you from simply deciding.
So I decided to write the editor back and tell her the truth, that given my current schedule I wouldn’t be able to meet her deadline. And I referred another colleague to her so she wasn’t left hanging without a writer for this piece.
After that move I felt relieved.
I had taken off some pressure. And more importantly, I had given myself permission to focus on the projects I already had.
I had given myself permission to go at the pace that felt right for me and that really honored the work that I was already doing.
I had given myself permission to enjoy the process.
And I knew had I made the right decision.
How I Made a Smart Decision from an Intuitive Place
I learned these important questions to ask myself from one of my mentors.
I asked myself if this was something that I wanted with my heart. In other words, did this feel good for me?
The answer was no. I love writing, but with other big projects on my plate, I knew it would be losing my nights and weekends to get this done. I knew I was capable, but did I want it? I knew I wouldn’t enjoy the hectic pace, so my heart said no.
Is this something that I wanted with my head? Did it logically make sense?
Yes, I could justify making money from the article and the great byline for my portfolio. It made sense in that regard.
Did this align with my long-term goals and short-term goals? Was this part of my path?
It aligned with my short-term goals for an income boost, but didn’t align with my greater vision of empowering women to be true to themselves and to not say “yes” when they really want to say “no.”
Did this excite me, even if it was a little scary? Was it more a “woo-hoo!” than a “ugh”?
Definitely an “ugh.” I knew if I took the project I would be dragging myself through it. Travel excites me, but with my plate loaded with other pressing projects, I knew it would not be fun; it would just be another big task that would scatter my attention.
Am I making this decision from faith and love and not fear? Was this inspiration or desperation?
It was total fear. I was tempted to take the project not because it inspired me, but because I was eager for the money and the byline and worried that I wouldn’t be offered the opportunity again.
And this is when it is really hard to say “no”…because, on paper, it seemed silly not to do this.
But this is where we do not honor ourselves. This is where we too often dismiss the voice of truth within us and surrender to our fears.
Why is this a problem?
Because every time you go against your truth, you kick yourself later because you know how you felt. You knew it wasn’t right for you.
But we’re scared because we don’t know where the extra money will come from, whether another opportunity like that will come our way… We just don’t know.
We can only go on faith and that inner compass that guides us to what is truly right for us.
And when you decide to follow that voice of truth in you, you know it’s the right decision because it was decision that comes from love, not from fear.
So next time you’re faced with a tough choice think about the following questions:
- Is this something I want with my heart? Does this feel good to me?
- Is this something I want with my head? Does this logically make sense to me?
- Does this align with my goals? Is this part of my path?
- Does this excite me, even if it is a little “scary”?
- Am I making this decision from love and not fear?