In my work as a coach, it is rare that a client isn’t stuck in some form of the IDK quagmire.
They want more time or more balance, they want a new career, they want a different relationship with others, etc. but they JUST. DON’T. KNOW. HOW. to get there.
It doesn’t take much coaching for us both to realize that they do, in fact, know how to take action toward those goals but they are simply afraid to act. They have allowed themselves to replace I know what to do but it doesn’t feel good, with I don’t know how. One is true and one is a lie we tell ourselves; one will keep you moving forward and one will keep you stuck.
There is a difference between not knowing what to do and knowing what to do but being afraid to do it.
What is so interesting about the phrase I don’t know is that every time I push a client to explain to me what they would do if they did know, they ALWAYS come up with a laundry list of solutions. In truth, knowing has always been within them. The issue has never been in the not knowing, the issue rest solely with the discomfort of executing on those solutions. That is where evolution resides.
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At that point of awareness, we have two options:
We accept that we are going to let fear ruin all the fun and that we are choosing not to act despite the fear.
We give fear the middle finger and get to work.
What would your life be like if instead of allowing yourself to say “I don’t know,” and closing a door, we instead acknowledged “I do know what to do but I’m afraid to act?” Would you still allow yourself to stay stuck?
Recognizing when we are afraid to act is the first step to creating the life of your dreams. Allowing yourself to say “I don’t know,” is a choice to remain where you are. It is a choice not to pursue whatever it is you’re wanting in your life. Once we can get past “I don’t know,” and realize that we do, in fact, know what to do next, that is where we make a true choice. That is where we must confront the fear associated with acting and decide whether we are willing to act despite the fear or if we would simply prefer to stay put. There is no right or wrong answer but the beauty in this process is that regardless of what you choose to do, it will be your conscious choice.
You will choose to execute on the first step that you know is available to you or you will choose not to.
And to be clear, it’s not about knowing every step of the process. It’s about knowing the next right step and trusting that once you get there, you will then determine the next next right step. And on and on you will trudge ahead, the path becoming clearer as you go.
In contrast, when we live in “I don’t know,” it relegates our life to some unknown fate; it reeks of victimhood. It relinquishes control for action because it suggests that we simply haven’t been gifted with the knowledge we need to create the life of our dreams. In that space, our life and our dreams are outside of our control and there’s nothing that we can do about it because we have not been gifted with knowing.
It is a fallacy we tell ourselves because it sounds so much prettier than, “I know what to do but I’m afraid to do it.” Being afraid to act is not a bad thing. There is honesty in that. There is no truth when we live in “I don’t know.” Most of us are unwilling to live in a space of “I’m not willing to act because I’m afraid.” Therefore, when we relinquish “I don’t know,” it is often the first step to action because refusal to forge ahead in the face of fear is not something that many of us are willing to accept for our lives.
Today, when you find yourself saying “I don’t know,” as it relates to something you want for your life or in your future, I urge you to challenge yourself to explore what you would do if you did know or how you could find out the next right step. With that information you have a choice to make: whether to act upon that knowing or not. Regardless of which path you take, there is beauty in being honest with yourself. Do you want it enough to act despite the fear or don’t you? Because simply wanting it, without more, is never enough.