Perhaps you’ve experienced it at least once in your life – knowing deep inside that it’s time to take a big step, yet you can’t seem to do it. You know that it’s the right thing to do, and yet you resist. You postpone. You delay. You follow other distractions in order to avoid taking action. Let me assure you that you’re not alone. At some point in our lives, this happens to all of us. So the question is: Why do we resist taking the next big step, even when we know that it’s right?
The short answer: Because we sense that once we take that step, something significant will change. Maybe everything will change, and nothing will be the same again. And that can feel both exciting and scary.
Something big may be gained, yet something may also be lost. Some part of us really wants that change, yet another part avoids it. We can feel the tension and conflict inside – lots of stories in the head and turmoil in the belly. Our deep inner knowing tells us that in the bigger picture – in service of more than just us – it’s the right thing. Yet are we ready for what will come as a result? Are we ready for what is waiting just beyond our action?
At a fundamental level, these kinds of decisions are really about honoring our truth. They’re about speaking up for what is important to us or for what really matters – about stepping forward into the fullness of who we really are and the path we’re here to walk. These are the moments when we find out what we’re really made of.
And so what do we choose? Are we willing to trust that we will find our way if we are deeply honest with ourselves and live into what we believe and what we know to be true? Do we choose to step forward in the fullness of who we are – to take the step that we know deep inside is the right one, and embrace the changes that may come? Or do we choose to live in fear of what might happen – of what the future might hold – and step back?
Barack Obama said, “We did not come to fear the future. We came here to shape it.”
How do you choose to shape your future? How do we as a collective choose to shape our future?
If you choose to follow your deep inner knowing and to step more fully into all of who you are, you will probably experience challenges. It won’t always be smooth sailing. Yet Life has a way of carrying us when we are on the right path. From my own experience, I can assure you that, if you stay the course, you are likely to reap great rewards – great learning and big growth.
First, your sense of who you are and what your life is about will become stronger. You will further embrace the response-abilities that come with claiming your place in the world.
Second, your relationships with people, ideas, beliefs, possibilities, and the world around you, are likely to shift. How you move in the world and interact with others will change, because you will be thinking, feeling, and acting from a sense of clearer purpose and direction. Not every choice you make will turn out to be a long-term choice. You will go down some paths that you soon realize are not the right ones. It’s OK, just turn around and look for another path that is beckoning. Trust that every choice you make – every path that you explore – will bring you further insights and understanding and will help clarify and inform your next steps. Some you will stick with, others you will let go.
Third, you will experience new levels of freedom. You may not recognize that freedom right away. At first, the floodgates of emotion or reaction may break open, both within you and others, and it can become overwhelming. If that happens, keep breathing. Keep grounding deep inside yourself and in who you know yourself to be. Every time you intentionally step through your fear and resistance and stay the course that every fiber of your being tells you is yours, you walk in the truth of who you are. You stand more confidently in what you have to bring to the world. Eventually, you stop worrying about whether or not you can do it and you just do it!
For me, the first and last lines of David Whyte’s poem, Start Close In, serve as my call to action and help me keep it simple.
Start close in,
don’t take the second step
or the third,
start with the first
the step you don’t want to take.
In time, you will look back and be grateful that you took that big step. In fact, I look back over my life with incredible gratitude for every big step that I’ve taken. Every considered risk has paid off, even if not always as I had expected or hoped. Yet in retrospect, I see why I had to take that step and what became possible because of it. I’m taking big steps now. And more will come, I’m sure.
What is the next big step waiting for you? If you’ve been reluctant to take it, it’s OK. Just be honest and compassionate with yourself, and engage your fear. Ask your fear what is underneath the flashing lights and screaming sirens. What is the real message that it’s asking you to pay attention to? Respond to that message. Take care of what you can take care of; put everything into place that you can.
And then take the step. Trust that new doors will open. Trust that new possibilities will emerge that you hadn’t imagined. Life will carry you. And you will have taken another big step forward.
About the Author:
Alan Seale is an award-winning author, inspirational speaker, transformation catalyst, master teacher and mentor to many leaders and coaches, and the founder of the Center for Transformational Presence.