People ask me how I write these columns every week. Well, I’ll tell you: sometimes I have a plan, and sometimes the plan goes out the window in favor of an idea that keeps popping up.
If it keeps popping, I start writing.
And so it was this week. The thing that kept popping up? “Michele, how can I get out of my own way?”
Excellent question. Good news: I’ve got three ways for you to start.
First, figure out why you’re making things harder than they have to be. Is it because someone once told you that anything worth getting requires a struggle? The Anxious Struggler zeitgeist runs through popular culture. Boy meets girl, boy wants girl, boy triumphs over adversity (and her initial disinterest), boy gets girl. See how the struggle pays off there? [except, of course, in the TV Show “The Bachelor”, where it appears a boy can go through the whole “get the girl” scenario, dump her and get another girl, thereby adding to the struggle, emotion and pathos. I’m just sayin’.]
In my experience, people often create more of a struggle than there really needs to be just to satisfy widely held cultural values around struggle. When, in fact, the things that are often best for us are those things that come easily. In a spiritual context, many faiths talk about allowing, submitting and being open. When you are open to the gifts already there for you, you don’t need to struggle. You can just receive. Nice idea, huh?
So, to really get out of your own way, drop the struggle and take the most fluid, joyful, easy path. Which leads to the second tip…
Center in your strengths. You may have heard me say this once or twice before…but if you are an excellent writer, why work in a field where you never write? If you are great with people, why work solo in a lab? If you can sing, why not do it?
“Nobody will pay me for what I’m good at,” is something I often hear. Which is an excellent example of someone being in his own way. Your expertise is always valued. But first it has to be valued by you. It’s funny that what comes easily to us is often the thing we discount the most. Sure, to live in your strengths you may have shift the way you benchmark your success. If you go from being a Wall Streeter to running a hospice center, you will probably take a pay cut. But you will definitely get the bonus of doing something that matters and has meaning. Priceless.
When you center every day in your strengths, you are absolutely in the flow. Life is effortless. Plus, it’s really, really fun.
Third thing you can do to get out of your own way? Listen to your intuition. OK, I know that many of us are Just The Facts, Ma’am kinda folks. And you all are rarely in your own way, if you want to know the truth, because you see the facts and decide and move on. It’s us intuitive people who think and re-think, and mull and ponder, and see a zillion options and maybes and might-possibly-happens and get in our own way because it can’t possibly be that easy, can it, I mean, got a minute to let me run this by you, what do you think?
Did to me. Until I did one little exercise. I wrote down every time I’d had an intuition about something and turned out to be right. I also wrote down every time I’d had intuitive guidance and did the opposite of what my gut told me. Figured out the consequences of those choices right then and there and realized: My gut is almost always right. Like 95% right.
So, now, I stay out of my own way primarily by listening to my gut and letting it lead me. Sure, sometimes I give myself the 24 Hour Rule: I wait 24 hours and if the gut feeling is still there, I go ahead and do whatever needs doing. If, in 24 hours, I feel icky — I don’t do whatever. I just move on.
And, I’m out of my own way a lot of the time. But it’s not just me — it’s plenty of other people, too, who manage to stay out of their own way. They do just three simple things. 1.) Challenge your thoughts about the value of struggle. 2.) Center in your strengths. 3.) Listen to your gut.
When you’re out of your own way, you’ll find that great stuff will happen. You’ll have happy effortlessness in your life.