by Marcia Zidle, Featured Contributor
MOST OF US have said this at one time or another:
I should have gone with my gut. Or, I knew what I should have done but didn’t do it. Or even, my heart said one thing but my head said something different.
We all have an inner voice that acts as a guiding system. It advises, warns, and reassures us. But do we really listen to our instincts? And do we act on them? Or do we push them aside and seek other people’s opinions?
Pay Attention to Your Inner Voice
For example, let’s say that you have a new service or product to offer to your customers or clients. You’re hired a marketing specialist with lots of great ideas on how to do this. He suggests tried-and-tested methods, talk about great success stories and you get swept along with his enthusiasm. Yet, you’re bothered by doubts and you don’t feel 100% committed. But he comes highly recommended.
What’s Going On?
Instinctively, you felt that something wasn’t quite as you wanted it to be. But you ignored that little inner voice – and now you’re angry at yourself for getting into this situation in the first place and displeased with him for causing you to move so fast.
If you’d taken the time to really listen.
to what your heart and instincts and then compared it with what he suggested, you would have noticed the difference between what YOU wanted and what HE wanted you to do. Then you could address these differences before making the final decision.
How to Trust Yourself More?
The solution is to start believing – really believing – that we do know what’s right for us. Here’s an exercise I’ve used with leaders who were making very important decisions about their business, their people or career.
1. Look at decisions you’ve made.
Note times in the past that you took action based on your instincts, that “inner voice” that you heard.
- What was the situation?
- What did you instinctively feel about it?
- When you stayed true to yourself, what was the outcome?
- If it was positive, how did you feel about yourself and the results?
- If it wasn’t as positive as you hoped for, what has this taught you about yourself?
2. Notice patterns.
Perhaps you trust yourself in one area of your life but not in another. Some people find it very easy to decide what’s best for others but they struggle with decisions about themselves. Or they find it easy to make tough decisions at work but in their personal life they are indecisive or impulsive.
3. Get rid of limiting beliefs.
If you regularly ignore your instincts in certain areas, ask yourself what’s different or challenging about these areas?
For example, you may have had an earlier really bad experience which created a sense of “I’m not good at math or relationships or whatever.” You fill in the blank. This tape keeps playing in your head: “I failed before and I will fail again.” What can you do to reverse that thinking and develop more confidence in yourself?
Smart Moves Tip:
The secret is to regularly pay attention to your inner voice. Then pause and confirm what it is saying to you before making that important decision. With practice we can get to a point where you won’t doubt the wisdom of your inner voice and so follow its direction with clarity and confidence.