Several years ago, a friend sent me an article from the New York Times entitled, “The Advantages of Closing a Few Doors,” by John Tierney (February 26, 2008, Science Section). It happened to reach me at an opportune time, as I had been weighing the pros and cons of continuing to train with another company’s leadership training program versus building my own coaching business.
Whenever I felt confused about which choice to make, I defaulted to, “Well, you can do both!”
Now sometimes, this super, mulit-tasking attitude can be exciting: we choose to play BIG in our life and we say YES to all the great opportunities that are coming our way. But what I now know is that this attitude also has you play SMALL. Instead of making powerful choices for YOUR LIFE, you don’t make any choices and end up “getting by.”
And this is exactly where I found myself. I was chasing after two dreams and neither one was taking off. I was doing “OK” but wondering why I was becoming more and more exhausted, confused and unfulfilled.
What I learned from this article, is that most people will keep their options open, even when they know it is costing them, in order to avoid the emotional feelings of LOSS that occur when they close doors. They found this out when M.I.T. conducted an experiment using a computer game where participants won real cash by looking behind virtual doors on their screens. The only way to do well in the game, was to allow doors to close while you focused on “clicking” through one door. According to this article, “They should have ignored those disappearing doors, but the students couldn’t.”
Even when we know we can’t do it all, we will try to take it on, in order to avoid the pain of seeing an opportunity disappear. But for us to be successful in life, sometimes we have to make a choice and close some doors; as I recently did: after 2 years of training with the leadership program for another company, I chose to complete so that I can focus on my own coaching.
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The following are five steps to help you close doors. I used them myself and I hope they provide guidance for you and any door shutting you need to take on.
1. Don’t rush things. Sometimes you are stuck between options because you don’t yet have enough information. If you are patient and allow some time to go by, you will gain more and more clarity until you feel like the race horse at the starting gate of a race, and you know, “It’s time!”. For me it took several months of keeping my Leadership Training Door open, before I got very clear that I needed to make a powerful choice for myself. And I am thankful that I did not make the move earlier, as I may have been left wondering if I had made the correct choice.
2. Use your internal compass. Notice which activities bring you the most joy, ease, and flow. The option that feels forced or like a “to do,” may be the one that needs to get dropped.
3. Ask for help. Sometimes we need to talk with someone who can give us perspective. To help me with my decision, I hired a coach who is a successful solopreneur. I talked to her about my dilemma and she helped me to see why I was ready to make a move and close one door in order to pursue another dream.
4. Trust yourself. Once you have made up your mind, trust yourself. At this point, avoid getting more input from others. Everyone will have their own opinion and only you know deep down what is true and right for you.
5. Take a deep breath and close the door. Write the memo, make the call, have the conversation. This is where you draw the line in the sand and take the leap of faith. Make sure you use definitive language (i.e. “I am…” vs. “I am thinking about…”) It’s fine to have a list of points written out to support you through this, but know that these are not your “reasons,” because you don’t need to have reasons, you just need to make the choice.
Now it’s time to celebrate for taking a stand for your self and your life! On the other side of closing one door is your new found freedom and focus!
Enjoy and here’s to YOUR Success!
About the Author: Heather Gray is a life coach, gifted intuitive healer, and the co-author of the award winning teen guidebook, Real Girl Real World: A Guide to Finding Your True Self. Heather works with clients from around the globe and recently moved into her own studio space at the Imagine Anti-Aging Boutique in Pittsford, NY. Read more, book a session and download her free guide, 7 Signs Your Life is Off Track (Are You Off Track or On Purpose?) at soulfilledlife.com