The hardest things in life and how to make impossible decisions

The hardest things in life and how to make impossible decisions


What if you don’t have to get anything right?

Just typing that question causes something in my lower back to release. I can feel my buttocks settle into the cushion on my chair as I stop working quite so hard to live up to whatever unconscious standards are running in the background of my awareness.

How about you?

The hardest thing in life is thinking we need to get it right

It seems to me that the hardest thing in life, the hardest thing in building a business, the hardest thing about raising children or growing vegetables, is dealing with our ideas and judgments about getting things right.

Those ideas about what is and isn’t right keep us from going with what we know is true for us in the moment. Preoccupation with getting it right can make decision-making pure hell.

What makes making the right decision seemingly impossible is believing that there’s a right decision to begin with.

The need to get it right goes deep

The imperative that one must get things right is layered, persistent, sneaky. If you’re like me, you let go of the need to get things right, only to discover that you have a new imperative to not need to get things right.

Even (especially?) illness comes with imperatives about what’s right

As some of you know, I was diagnosed with breast cancer at the beginning of June. As you might imagine, I’ve had lots of different feelings and thoughts about it.

Far and away the hardest thing about it has been the persistent arising of theories or concepts about getting it right.

Having the right feelings. (Yeah, like I’m in charge of that.)

Making the right choices. (For whom? When?)

Sending the right messages. (Hopeless invitation to self-absorption.)

What I’ve learned about making the right decision

I’ve been keeping a journal of my breast cancer journey at CaringBridge, and here’s an excerpt from my entry on June 24 about decision-making and getting things right. I wrote it after deciding to get a bilateral mastectomy, but I think it applies to decision-making in general.

“The hardest part of the past couple of days has been wondering if I’ve made the right decision. And the hardest part of that has been wondering what other people would think of my decision. Here, in no particular order, are some of the things I’ve learned.

  1. “Decisions make themselves. We don’t know what we are going to do, and then we do. The less sound and fury I can inject in the interim, the better able I will be to discern the “right” decision. More about what constitutes “rightness” below.
  2. “It’s not over until it’s over. Another way to say this is that I reserve the right to be inconsistent, erratic, and change my mind. If I’m struck with a sudden insight that changes how I see this, I’ll punt. I’m grateful to Dr. Wechter for explicitly giving me permission to change my mind, though she did ask me not to do it the day before surgery. 😉
  3. “This decision stands until it doesn’t. Insight doesn’t flow from second-guessing. I like how I feel about this decision when I am settled down, and I’m going to stand in that. I won’t be surprised if I second-guess myself anyway, but I don’t intend to put a lot of energy into it.
  4. “The right decision is the one you make. I have a bias in favor of decisions made from a place of peace, from what Syd Banks called “a nice feeling.” But there is no ultimate basis for grading the rightness of this decision. How could you or I judge? By whether or not the cancer returns? By whether or not a new treatment is discovered in six months? By how these journal entries affect an unknown reader? Will I meet my new best friend on the ferry one day en route to get my new boobs inflated? (Stay tuned. Or not. LOL)
  5. “We’re all always doing our best. Full stop.”

There is no such thing as the “right way”

When it comes down to it, there is no such thing as the right way to do something; there is only the way we do it. The only justification I have for my choice to have a bilateral mastectomy is that I felt clear, grounded, and peaceful when I let myself want what I want.

And hey, if the best I could do happened to be to make a choice from a place of feeling, confused, ungrounded, and anxious, then that would have to be okay, too.

Because, as I wrote above, I see more clearly than ever that we truly are always doing our best all the time. The only thing that keeps us from seeing that are persistent fantasies and judgments about what our best ought to look like. Those fantasies and judgments are mental constructs, though, and they are utterly trumped by the reality of whatever we are up to in the moment.

I hope to serve, and sometimes I suck at it

As I reflect on my life, I see that I have always hoped to serve. I love it when sharing my experience helps others, and I feel so fortunate that for many years I have been able to earn my living by doing that.

But sometimes when I experience confusion or anxiety or any number of less than, in my opinion, admirable states of mind, I get seriously derailed. I start imagining that I have to get something right in order to be of service, and as soon as I’m on that track, I’m lost in endless self-absorption and self-criticism.

Which pretty much shuts down the creative process, prevents authentic connection and communication, and generates a seemingly accurate self-fulfilling prophecy of wasted potential, meaninglessness, and alienation.

And in those moments my life looks like a wasteland. The idea of service seems like a cruel delusion.

And that’s how it is for all of us. When we are lost, we see loss and waste.

But it’s not real

It sucks to feel like we suck. But the important thing to know about those self-fulfilling prophecies is that they are only seemingly accurate. Because our scary self-fulfilling prophecies are dreams. They are not real.

And sooner or later we come home to ourselves.

We come home sooner when we understand what is going on

We come home to ourselves sooner rather than later when we understand what is going on.

When we understand that, even though they feel very real and compelling in the moment, our fears and judgments are phantoms, we are less inclined to amplify and invest in them.

And like any fire that lacks fuel or oxygen, even the most intense emotional blaze passes when we don’t feed it.

It may burn for a while, but it will not burn forever.

What would you do if you didn’t have to get it right?

If any of this has resonated, I invite you to hold this question lightly. What would you do now if you didn’t have to get it right?

If no answer appears, that could be your answer. Nowhere is it written that you have to know what you are doing or why you are doing it. Wisdom runs deeper than language, and life is far more mysterious than that.

Talk back: I’d love to hear your thoughts and welcome them in the comments section. Also, if you would like to read my CaringBridge journal, it is being cross-posted to my blog at Owning Pink.



Photo by Werner Weisser via Pixabay

Two Reasons You May Not Be Getting Traction

What’s going on when you can’t get traction with a project that’s important to you? It’s always either something in your environment or what’s going on between your ears. If it’s not the environment, odds are that you’re thinking about yourself instead of about thing to be done.

Is it time to stop spinning your wheels?

The Traction Mastermind is an elite coaching program that will get you unstuck and into action. In 16 weeks you’ll dissolve the barriers that hold you back once and for all so you can really be all that you are and do all that you are meant to do—and enjoy yourself in the process.

The startling practicality of happiness

The startling practicality of happiness

Manage for happinessWoohoo! The first in a series of free Happiness Hangouts happens this Friday, August 8, at 9:00am Pacific Daylight Time and YOU are invited.

Why? Because it happens that happiness doesn’t just feel good; it’s startlingly practical.

As the name suggests, Happiness Hangouts are all about happiness and its startling bearing on life and biz. We’ll look at:

  • Why happiness is a default, not a destination.
  • The relationship between happiness and wisdom.
  • How to use happiness as a navigational aid in life and business.

There will be some teaching and some coaching and some who-knows-what-else. Think insight meets pragmatism meets sassiness. (Hmmm. The term “wise sass” just occurred to me. I like that!)

How It Works

Happiness Hangouts will use Google’s Hangouts on Air technology to broadcast a live video feed of yours truly. You can watch the live feed on a page at my Web site or via Google+. If you have a Gmail account, I recommend the Google+ option, because you’ll be able to see and participate in the live chat.

In addition to watching, you can participate in the Hangout by teleconference. You’ll receive all the info about how to watch and/or call in when you sign up. You’ll get replay info as well.

Are you in?

Click the link below to sign up for the free Happiness Hangouts.

I hope you’ll be able to join me!

How to Deal with Resistance–Set It Aside

How do you deal with resistance? You could analyze it, process it, search for the meaning behind it–or you could simply set it aside. Resistance takes care of itself when we shift our attention away from it. The key? Shift your attention away from resistance by engaging with life, not by escaping or numbing out. Engagement will always dissolve resistance.

This summer I have a few openings for clients who are wary of being hornswoggled by New Age “happy talk” yet sense that there are spiritual principles that could give them more leverage in life and business, including getting past even the most entrenched resistance. If that sounds like you, click here for more information and to contact me for an interview.

Six No-cost Ways to Fall In Love with Your Business Starting Now from My Library to Yours

When I stopped writing my weekly ezine after 16 years, I promised that I would look for other no-cost ways for you to be happier and more successful at self-employment. So I said to myself, “Self, what do you have to offer that would be of obvious value to anyone looking at your work from the outside?” I asked it that way, because I’ve noticed over the years in both art and business that the best ideas are usually obvious, after you’ve had them, and that other people generally see what you can’t see yourself.

I wrestled with the question, and then I dropped it, at which point the answer popped right up: “Go to the library, silly.” That would be the vast library I’ve amassed about how to create meaningful, sustainable success when you work for yourself.

So I went to my library and yowza! As I started reading and listening to my favorite heart-centered business teachers, I fell in love with them all over again. Shoot, I fell in love with my business again, which can happen when you see with fresh eyes.

Fall in love with your business

To you help fall in love with your business as well, I’m giving away five primo presentations, which I selected based on their relevance, style, and depth—that you can download now at no cost. I’m also giving a free live teleclass next week on How to Know What to Do When There’s too Much to Do, because I don’t want this gift to be one more thing that sends you into information overload.

As I said, my library is vast, and my team and I are tapping its resources to create an Enlightened Business Intensive. If after experiencing these no-cost presentations you want more, you’ll have an opportunity to enroll in the Intensive. If not, then not. Enrollment won’t open until after all the goodies have been distributed, so there is no pressure to even think about it now.

Okay, enough with the back story. Here’s the line-up.


Superhero Available now: Superpowers, Storytelling and Soul Stuff: How going deep affects your bottom line, Fabeku Fatunmise

As a business owner, there’s so much to focus on. Your business has a million moving parts and they all seem important. But what if you’ve overlooked two of the most essential pieces? Fabeku shows you how to connect with the parts of you that bring what you do into a cohesive, magnetic whole and significantly increase your ability to find your perfect audience, ramp up your income and amp up your mojo, while lining up with the heart of what you do. (Audio, handout, transcript.)

You don’t need to sign up to download Fabeku presentation. Just click here to download it. I do ask you to sign up if you want to receive the rest of the presentations, because I don’t want to clutter your email box with links and reminders unless you are interested.


Planning for Chaos Sean D'SouzaAvailable now: Planning for Chaos, Sean D’Souza

Sean D’Souza is quite possible the most productive person I know. He also has a wonderful life, unlike some of the craze Internet marketers out there. In this session (recording, handout, transcript, and mindmap) he shares an approach to productivity that can help you have a more wonderful life as well. If you haven’t experienced Sean’s teaching before, you are in for a treat. He makes things super clear and extremely practical.

In this presentation he explains:

  • Why most planning systems don’t work. (It’s not your fault.)
  • How to manage multiple projects simultaneously without losing traction.
  • How to build a chaos plan (and why you want one).
  • The sense and stupidity of focus.

Click here to sign up to get Planning for Chaos with Sean D’Souza as well as the other five presentations.


Mark SilverComing May 19: The Three Journeys of Marketing… why smart, effective marketing tactics fail and what’s missing, Mark Silver

Your clients are traveling towards your business, desperately needing what you have to offer, and yet it’s easy to get lost in the desert of the marketplace. If you don’t understand the Three Journeys your just right clients are traveling, you’ll lose them, no matter how inspired your marketing is.

Mark Silver is the founder of Heart of Business and a successful business teacher and healer, who brings an active connection with the Divine to his work. Heart of Business has helped thousands of entrepreneurs and small business owners to integrate the nitty gritty of business with the heart-opening truths of spirit in a way that actually helps the business be profitable and make a difference in the world.

(Audio, transcript.)

Click here to sign up to receive The Three Journeys of Marketing with Mark Silver as well as the other five presentations.

Busy DeskComing May 21: How to Know What to Do Next When There’s too Much to Do, Molly Gordon (Teleclass)

You sit down to plan—or maybe the whole idea of figuring out where to start has you too tense to sit, so you hover, or pace, or stand frozen in the middle of your office.

Where the heck should you start? How do you make the right decisions when there are too many options, too many demands, and not enough time (or you) to go around?

This live teleclass will bring ease and lightness and give you confidence that you can choose wisely and well.

(Live teleclass and recording.)

Click here to sign up to participate in the teleclass and/or to receive the recording along with all the other five presentations.


Michael Neill bestselling author of The Inside Out RevolutionMay 26: How to Achieve Joyous Profitability, Michael Neill

(Audio, transcript, visual essay)

One of the reasons so many small businesses don’t make it past the first year, let alone, the first five years is the amount of pressure we put on ourselves to succeed. Michael Neill proposes a new model for creating success outside the pressure cooker. A model for creating the kind of business you can really enjoy.

In this talk, Michael points to the deeper feeling that you carry with yourself into the marketplace. It’s a state of mind. It’s an understanding. It’s not a set of techniques. It’s not a set of practices. It’s not a place you ultimately get to after you achieve X, Y, and Z. This deeper feeling is always available, and when you connect with it, you immediately tap into the wisdom you need to guide your business.

(Audio, transcript, visual essay.)

Click here to sign up to access Joyous Profitability along with the other five presentations.


Mikelann ValterraJune 2, How to Charge Good Money for Doing What You Love, Mikelann Valterra

After almost two decades of helping people exit the money fog and heal their relationship to money, Mikelann Valterra brings a deep understanding of the psychology of money, a revolutionary approach to money management, and a wealth of personal experience to her coaching practice.

You have a business idea, now you’ve got to charge for it! But how much? You may be scared that you won’t get enough clients if your rates are too high, but your time is precious. Will you end up resenting it if you don’t charge enough? In this audio (with transcript and handout) Mikelann helps you navigate the complexities of rate-setting, while paying special attention to the emotional side of this charged issue.
She explains:

  • Three strategies for feeling good about charging good money.
  • Two ways to avoid giving away too much.
  • The top five reasons why you should be charging at the top of the range for your service.  If you’re tempted to discount, don’t miss this!

(Audio, handout, transcript.)

Click here to sign up to receive Mikelann’s session along with all the other presentations.

The last word…

I guess all that’s left for me to say is, “Enjoy!”


Molly signature


Photo of Stockholm Public Library by Samantha Marx

Pin It on Pinterest