Start knowing. Try saying those two words to yourself in a very calm, very wise, very ancient, very adamant voice—the next time you panic. Just say it and then breathe. Then get quiet and see what comes up. I promise you that your very next thought will be the truth.” – Elizabeth Gilbert
“Um, I just knew I had to.”
That’s the answer I’m given (in some form or another) by every successful entrepreneur I’ve ever coached, when I’ve posed the question, “What made you start your business?”
In fact, this answer applies to most significant things. Having a baby. Writing a book. Deciding to take a six-month sabbatical and travel. Saying yes to curiosity and accepting that first date. Yes to that (scary!) promotion. Yes to that unlikely opportunity to move to a new city, start blogging, buy a puppy.
When something is stirring within you, stop saying, “I don’t know!” Because you do. Here’s why:
1. Logic is limited.
Logic has a place in the world, yes. We can do the numbers. We can consider the options and the outcomes. We can weigh the pros and cons until the cows come home. But the most important decisions in life are seized by instinct. We feel them. That’s why confident decision-making is so commonly referred to as “listening to your gut.” Logic isn’t everything—and it never can be.
2. Your answer exists, but your permission might not.
Most often what’s lacking from our inner knowing is the absence we permit ourselves to obey our own call. We might think, “But I have a decent job, friends, a good family… must I want more/something else/something different?”
The answer is yes, if something stirs within you. Because you cannot eradicate your desires. All that’s missing is your permission to let them become real.
3. You are stuck in judgment.
When you type an address into Google maps, it tells you the fastest route and the time it will take you to get there from your current location. That’s it. All it needs is where you are right now and the destination. It doesn’t ask, “Wait, have you been there before? But are you sure? Where were you yesterday/last week/last year?”
A big part of truly knowing what you want and going for it is losing what’s happened in the past as a barometer of where-to-from-here. Maybe you regret not taking a job because it scared you. Maybe you regret breaking off a relationship because commitment freaked you out.
Forget (and forgive yourself!) for what you have or haven’t done until now. It’s all OK! All that matters is today and what’s next for you. Yes, really.
4. Intuition is real. (It’s in there!)
If you don’t feel intuitively guided, it just means you are not fully aligned with yourself in the present moment. Maybe you are stressed out, over-tired, or over-thinking. That’s OK too. You might just need some quiet time or more sleep.
A clear (rested) head provides massive mental and emotional clarity. “Sleep on it” is sage advice. If you still need help with decision-making even when you’re in a calm, relaxed place, you can ask yourself these 12 questions.
5. Fear is your filter.
Fear is behind every excuse we give ourselves to keep saying, “I don’t know!” So ask yourself: “If fear could leave my body for just a few seconds, what would I do next?”
Try this for a few minutes. Sit down. Relax your shoulders. Do whatever it takes to even make your body feel even 5 percent more comfortable. Take 20 deep, calming breaths (not just two or three). Imagine that, just for a few minutes, fear could leave your body entirely—poof! Without fear as a meddler, what comes up for you? What do you really, truly know for sure?
The answers to your life’s questions begin and end with you. You’re the only person who knows what you truly want. So stop asking around. Stop saying “I don’t know!” Turn inward. Start knowing. It might not be easy, but you do have the answers, don’t you?
And you are ready for them. I promise.
Susie Moore is Greatist’s life coach columnist and a confidence coach in New York City. Sign up for free weekly wellness tips on her website and check back every Tuesday for her latest No Regrets column!