I saw a sign

… and it opened up my eyes.
And now I have the song stuck in my head...


Anyway, let’s talk about decision making. Some years ago, I attended a workshop run by the School of Life in London on decision making. What I remember from it (without consulting my notes) is that our brains have a limited capacity for making decisions. Now, that limit is pretty high, given how many decisions we have to take every day. One advice was to see in which areas of your life you could “automate” the decision making to increase capacity for other areas. So, for example, the workshop facilitator said that everything in his wardrobe matches with everything. Thus, when getting dressed, he can just reach in for a top and bottoms, and it’ll be fine. Or people who always order the same thing from the menu, have the same cereal for breakfast etc. Of course, that works best for the more trivial and inconsequential decisions in our life.


Most of us have agonized at one point or another about those other decisions, relating to our jobs, relationships or where to live. We start pro and con lists, speak to friends and family and can end up more confused than before. And we might look for signs. Or maybe that’s just me? Almost six years ago, I moved from London to Rosenheim. I loved my life in London, I loved and still love the city, I had my friends there. And still, when I got the job offer, pretty quickly, I decided to move. I still remember my first night in Rosenheim. Lying in bed, admiring the stars through the window and feeling at home. Back then I took it as a sign that I had indeed taken the right decision.


Fast forward to my recent move. Again, my first night in my new flat, and I was lying in bed and it just felt like home. And then I thought: hm, maybe this isn’t so much a sign of having made the right decision (now and back then) but of the fact that I easily adapt to new places? Which would also make sense given the number of times I moved as an adult.

There are “signs” everywhere and all the time, but how do we learn to interpret them? One of the things I tell my coaching clients during our first session is that as a coach I’m not here to provide answers to their questions. I am here to guide them to find their own answers which have been there all along. So, when you see a “sign”, be aware of how the meaning you attach to it, will impact the further course of your story. For example, I slept horribly the first night in this flat. And the nights after, too. I couldn’t fall asleep, then woke up in the middle of the night, etc. I could take it as a sign that it was the wrong decision. Or I accept that I don’t sleep well in new places (which I already know from all the hotels I stayed in during my time in event management). Your mind will start looking for more signs to prove your own theory and it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.


So, really, the only sign you need to look out for is your inner voice which is sure to guide you. Yes, that inner voice can also be affected by our fears which essentially can make any change scary and overwhelming. But when we sit with it, we can find out what lies at the root of that fear. Also, when you talk to your friends and family, check in with yourself on how you react to their advice. Are you seeking their views or are you seeking validation for what you’ve already decided?


My favourite tool to tap into our inner wisdom is to visualize the outcome. Close your eyes and imagine scenario A. Pretend it’s already happened and you are in the future. How do you feel? What can you see? And then do the same with all the other possible scenarios you are considering. I remember the first time I did this with my coach at the time. I was hugely sceptical, as he also made me write down my option A and B on a piece of paper, put them on the floor and made me stand on them. And I was amazed that it worked. I was in the same room, nothing had changed but I felt different depending on which paper I stood. Back then, my take home message wasn’t actually which option to go for, but the fact that I knew I would be ok either way. Which quite frankly has been an invaluable life lesson. To have the self-belief that I can handle things. It won’t always be easy, it will be uncomfortable and challenging at times but I will be ok. And so will you. 

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