What To Do When You Can’t Decide

By Lissa Rankin

FYC

We usually refer to “finding your calling” as getting in touch with your life purpose. But you may be called to do any number of things that may have nothing to do with your professional life. These types of callings tend to come up whenever you find yourself unable to make a decision.

Should you stay or should you go?

Should you follow your intuition or play it safe?

Should you take a leap of faith or stay on the cliff?

Decisions can be beastly, especially when the stakes are high. But you don’t have to make these decisions alone. I believe The Universe calls to us, guiding us to where we’re meant to be. In the beginning, this guidance will show up in subtle ways, like a thought or an idea that feels like a crazy idea. Then you might read something that feels like it was meant just for you, something that reinforces the crazy idea.  Then that perfect book- the one you were SO supposed to read right now- falls off the shelf in front of you. Then you have a dream full of instructions, or you see a vision of something, or you hear a voice telling you what you need to do.

How You Know When You’re Being Guided

You may not recognize the guidance at first. You might not even notice it, and if you do, you might write it off as mere coincidence.  But if you don’t pay attention to the first whisperings, then the signs from the Universe get more obvious. You may get physical symptoms because you’re not listening to the whispers. Things might start happening to rock you out of your comfort zone.

Things might even start to get really trippy.  You bump into the person you need to be talking with in the middle of Central Park when neither of you even live in New York City.  You’re talking on the telephone, confessing what you know you must do to a dear friend, and right when you share how scared you are, a walkie talkie voice interferes with the phone line and tells you you’re not alone. You find out that you and your mentor are being guided by a spirit guide who calls himself by the same name.

This is when you know you are being called. You’ve been given clear instructions. But you may not like the instructions you’re being given.

You Still Have Choice

Free will is a funny thing when it comes to spiritual guidance. I believe we are guided with “signs from the Universe,” and these signs are suggestions, recommendations even. But we don’t have to follow the guidance. We have free will, and we may either fail to observe the signs or ignore the signs.

I think we’re given a lot of leeway when we first become aware of something we’re being called to do. We’re given a sort of grace period, a Divine time out, during which we have the opportunity to make peace with what is being asked of us. The Universe gives us a break and understands why we’re not doing what we know we must.  So there are no immediate consequences to failing to heed the guidance. The Universe understand that we’re only human.

The Grace Period Ends

But then one day, the grace period is over, and what we’re being called to do becomes urgent.  The signs from the Universe start coming fast and furious. The Universe is not going to let you off the hook any longer.

At this point, you still have a choice. You have free will. But if you don’t act on what is being asked of you once your grace period is over, things will start being reorganized for you, and you may feel like you no longer have a choice. You’ll get fired from that job you’ve known you’re supposed to quit. The relationship you’ve been thinking about ending will end without your choice.  Your life will start reorganizing in order to make this thing that must happen inevitable, until you’re laughing or crying at how obvious it is that you’re NOT LISTENING to what you’re being guided to do.

When It’s Time To Surrender

That’s when you finally throw your hands up and say, “I give!” You surrender. You strap on your seatbelt because you know you’re about to go for the ride of your life, and it’s a ride you can’t control, so you might as well throw your hands up and yell, “WHEEEEEEEE!” You’ll feel the butterflies, the roller coaster feeling in your belly, and it will just be a sign that you’re on the right path, even though you don’t know where you’re going.

What If Your Calling Hasn’t Showed Up Yet?

Join me, Martha Beck, and Amy Ahlers for Find Your Calling, a free teleclass  designed specifically to help you hear your inner guidance, get in touch with your life purpose, and do your part to change the world. We remember how much angst this can inspire, and we all have so much compassion for you if you’re one of those who is still struggling to find your life’s purpose.

If you already know what’s calling you, and you’re still in your grace period, your job is to just make peace with the truth of what you know you must do. If your grace period is over, you might as well just do what you’re being guided to do. Just let go, darling… your resistance only makes it harder. Trust that the Universe would never guide you to make a choice that isn’t safe, and there is no reason for you to be afraid.

Are You Being Guided?

Is there something you just know, but you’re too afraid to acknowledge it? Are you in denial about something you’re being called to do? Are you still trying to find your calling? Tell us your stories in the comments.

Letting go,

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What Motivates Visionaries To “Dominate” The World?

By Lissa Rankin

te108-361835d9-ab5f-4437-8c80-65a1ecfdbcad-v2I’m writing this on a plane from Portland back home to San Francisco after joining 3000 visionaries and thought leaders who attended Chris Guillebeau’s World Domination Summit. This very inspiring conference was peopled with those inspired by Chris’s manifesto “A Brief Guide To World Domination,” which is less about colonization and more about saving the world.

Gretchen Rubin is saving the world by teaching people how to be happier, Don Miller is helping people rewrite the stories of their lives, Nancy Duarte is helping people tell stories that can change the world, Bob Moore is changing the world by putting people before profit, Jia Jiang is changing the world by helping people learn to take risks by getting comfortable with rejection.

Pretty much everyone I met was either on a mission to fulfill a calling or on a quest to find one. After the conference ended with a tear-jerking sparkling apple juice toast, I found myself reinvigorated in my own mission to heal health care, and everyone I spoke to felt inspired to change the world in their own small or big way.

It was awesome.

But as the afterglow of the post-WDS Bollywood dance party wore off, I found myself pondering what motivated all of us to try to make the world a better place.

I wound up posting this on Facebook:

After spending the weekend with 3000 visionaries committed to changing the world, I find myself reflecting upon on what motivates visionaries. Are we motivated by a pure, unadulterated desire to leave the world better off than we found it? Or are we operating from a place of deep unworthiness, of not being enough unless we make the world a better place? Or is it some combination of both?

So many people are desperate to find their calling, their reason for existence, their meaning of life. And many others, like myself, feel they have found it- and are now on a quest to fulfill a vision. But is the quest driven by the right motives?

What made Martin Luther King, Jr campaign for civil rights? What made Nelson Mandela take a stand? What made Abraham Lincoln free the slaves? What made Evita and Mother Teresa fight for the rights of the poor?

Is it a deep-seated sense of unworthiness that needs to be healed? Is it ego? Do we need to feel like we’ve contributed big things so we know we are valuable? Is it karmic? Are we trying to pay off some debt for wrongs committed in past lives? Are we craving love, acceptance, external validation?

Or is it noble? Are we just caring, committed souls devoted to service without any self-serving motives? Are we clear vessels for Divine work in the world moving through us?

What do YOU think?

The Facebook Response

Forty-seven people responded with very thoughtful answers, including these:

Beth Gradone Krajewski wrote, “I suspect human beings come from mixed motives much of the time, and we can afford to be forgiving of the ego-ridden places in ourselves and others if the work is really being done and done well. But motives do matter, at least as far as they can poison the work if not recognized and dealt with. Lifting up the questions and asking all those who engage in visionary action to get real about their self-worth and the source of their dreams only furthers the work itself and the quality of the results.”

Jennifer Newcomb Marine wrote, “I think the vision, altruism and drive spring from someplace pure in your heart. Then fear and ego get involved and create this start-stop dance of self-doubt, craving validation, and thinking, ‘To heck with everyone!’and so on… The trick is to get out of your own way so you can make a contribution. But the journey there is full of learning about how and why you trip yourself up too.”

Pamela Potter wrote, “I really think it is a divine push that we can’t avoid. Many of the historical figures weren’t what we’d consider personally enlightened and many of them didn’t get any kind of recognition until much later, so I don’t think ego figures in. If you are called to do something, you just CAN’T not do it. Even if you just babble at people and write a blog that no one reads or articles that don’t always get published, your heart has to know that you are doing something. I’m not sure most of us go into it with a plan. We just can’t stop thinking about our thing, what ever it is, and we have to DO something.”

Lori Santo posted, “I personally feel that it is a powerful inner pull….. combined with a ‘Priestly Divine Appointment’ ~ which of course transcends language ~ coupled with an intense sense of and alignment with profound compassion for humanity.”

The Evolution Of The Species

I don’t know the answer to the questions I pose. But I have a hunch that our species is evolving, maybe not so much on the physical plane, but at the level of consciousness.  For many years, many of us- myself included- have been spiritually asleep.  But more and more people are waking up to a broadening consciousness, and this awakening is accompanied by a desire to leave the world better than we found it.

Uri Geller once suggested that we only use 10% of the capacity of our brains, and while PET scan imagery and fMRI seem to refute this, I do suspect we have capacities of consciousness we are only just beginning to tap into.  Neurosurgeon Eben Alexander, author of Proof Of Heaven, wrote about how his near-death experience, which occurred while he was technically brain dead, changes his belief that consciousness lies in the brain. He now believes that consciousness transcends the brain, that we have souls that exist beyond the body, and that there are realms of consciousness a few lucky ducks like Dr. Alexander and Anita Moorjani have been blessed to experience and then remember.

Stealth Agents For God

World Domination Summit has nothing to do with religion, Chris Guillebeau certainly wouldn’t self-identify as a spiritual leader, and many of those who attended probably wouldn’t even label themselves as spiritual, but I left World Domination Summit with a strong sense that the Divine is at work though the vehicle of the people who attended this conference.

Martha Beck would call these people “The Team” or “Stealth Agents For God”. We are all doing our part, in our own Divinely unique way, to make the world a better place.

So I guess it doesn’t really matter what motivates those of us to “dominate” the world. The important thing is that we are making ourselves vessels, allowing Divine work to move through us, spreading love and kindness and compassion and grace, leaving the world better than we found it.

What Do YOU Think?

Tell us your stories.

With love and world domination,

5 Tips To Help You Recover From Perfectionism

photoAs I headed to Albany, New York last week to film a 90 minute public television special, as well as 6 hours of additional DVD content that would be included as part of the PBS fundraising pledge package, I knew I was walking into a situation that was completely out of my comfort zone. I so wanted to feel like I was going to just nail it on that television set, that I would get it all perfectly right on my first try, that I would wow everyone with my professionalism and TV chops, that everyone would come to me later and say, “Lissa, you’re a natural!”

So I loaded myself up with expectations, hoping I’d get it right, wanting to impress my producers and please my publisher and all that jazz. Naturally, heaping myself with expectations of perfection only left me feeling stressed and overwhelmed in the months before the film date. And then, suddenly, I was backstage, about to appear before a live studio audience to deliver what I hoped would be a perfect performance. (No biggie.)

Permission To Be Imperfect

Suddenly, inside my head, I heard the soothing voice of Brené Brown (with whom I just did a free teleclass – you can listen to us here). When Brené was about to appear on Oprah’s Super Soul Sunday, she wrote herself a permission slip, which she hid in her pocket. The permission slip said, “Permission to be imperfect.” So right there, back in the wings, I wrote myself the same permission slip, and when I stood in front of that studio audience, I told everyone to bear with me because I was about to give an imperfect performance.

I then proceeded to royally flub up several times, stuttering over my words and misreading the teleprompter. Fortunately, the special was prerecorded! All I had to do when I screwed up was stop, admit my mistake, and try again. The audience had even been prepped so that if I said the same thing twice, they were supposed to pretend they were hearing my hopefully wise words for the very first time!

What If Life Had “Do Overs?”

After a few mistakes and do overs, I said to the audience, “Wouldn’t life be great if we were allowed to just pause and get a ‘Do over’ in other aspects of our life?” And then I realized I’ve done just that. I married imperfectly – twice – and I’ve now been with husband #3 for almost eleven years. (Do over! Do over!) I wound up unhappy in my job as a practicing physician, so I went through a massive career change. (Do over!)  My health broke down because I wasn’t caring for my body or my mind, but I was blessed to get a do over in my health and am now down to half the dose of one of the seven medications I was once taking.

I have been pausing, admitting my mistakes, and doing life over again time after time! And this, I’m realizing, is one of the essential keys to a happy life.

The Pressure Of Perfection

Perfectionism can be a real joy killer. If I had been too afraid to appear imperfect, I might have stayed in two unhappy marriages or kept a job that was sucking the life out of me.

Perfectionism can also be a barrier to intimacy, as well as a potent form of self-sabotage. If I had been committed to trying to give a perfect performance in front of the live studio audience, I might have missed the chance to giggle and connect with the audience the way I did when I flubbed up my words and exposed my imperfections. They might have wrongly assumed that I had it all together, when the honest truth was that I was terrified to be doing something so far outside of my comfort zone. As soon as I let go of the expectation of perfection in myself, my whole body relaxed. I could be imperfect! And I would still be good enough…

I realize that’s what it really comes down to. When I’m too focused on being perfect, it’s usually because, deep in the shadows lies a basic lack of worthiness. Some part of me thinks that, if only I overdeliver, I’ll finally be good enough.

But beneath that shadowy part of myself lies something deeper, something more true, something I call my Inner Pilot Light, and that part of me know that I am – and YOU are – inherently worthy simply because we all have sparks of Divinity within us, and we don’t have to prove anything in order to earn that worth.

Excellence Or Perfectionism?

I notice in myself this struggle between the quest for excellence and the tug of perfectionism. Where is the line? How much striving for excellence is noble versus how much is just ego, rearing its overfluffed head?

Heading into the filming of this public television special, I was aware that, yes, the stakes were high. Yes, my publisher had invested a lot of money to produce this special. Yes, a lot of people will view it. And of course, I want to do a good job.

The same was true in my career as a doctor. A person’s life is on the line. The stakes are high. You don’t want your surgeon to be one of those medical school slackers who swears by the “C=MD” formula! But is it really necessary to push yourself to be top of your class like I did?

Here are my thoughts on how to tell the difference.

5 Tips For Avoiding Perfectionism

1. Give 90%.

90% of the pain of perfectionism comes from trying to eke out that last 10%, when 90% is pretty damn excellent.
 
2. Choose ease.

If you’re finding yourself pushing, striving, trying too hard, or if your work becomes burdensome, you feel the pressure piling on, and you’re in “fight-or-flight” all the time, you’re edging beyond the desire for excellence into perfectionism territory. As Christiane Northrup taught me, try being less sperm, more egg.

You’ll know you’re really in the flow when you’re doing great work, but it doesn’t feel like struggle, when you get winks from the Universe, things line up easily, and the quality of your work doesn’t suffer – you just didn’t have to suffer in order to achieve great things.

3. Know your inherent worthiness.
 
As long as we look outside ourselves for validation that we are enough, we will always be tempted to overdeliver. Try repeating affirmations that remind you that your value lies within. “I am more than enough.” Lather. Rinse. Repeat.
 
4. Send your Gremlin to time out.
 
There’s a voice in your head that can be a nasty bastard. I call it “The Gremlin,” and it’s the voice of your fearful, insecure inner critic.  If you’re not maxing out your output, giving to the point of depletion (and for many of us, even then!) your Gremlins might be tempted to wage war.

Instead of letting your Gremlins get the best of you, listen to your Inner Pilot Light and know that you don’t  need to be perfect. In fact, as Brené Brown teaches in The Gifts Of Imperfection, your imperfections are actually the gateway to intimacy, the way people can relate to you. Who can relate to anyone who never makes mistakes? (BO-RING!)

5. Set goals but release attachment to outcomes.

It’s one thing to set the goal of delivering a genius manuscript or a standing ovation performance or a gold star sales report or a successful surgical outcome or the desire to win the case/ land the client/ get the deal. It’s another to place your sense of value in how much you achieve.

Instead, do the best you can (well, 90% of your best) and then let it go. Trust. Have faith. And lean into your own sense of inherent worthiness.

Are You A Perfectionist?

Tell us your stories…

Imperfectly yours,