Ep #24 How to Make Pivotal Life Decisions Part 1: Why People Play Small or Not at All

by | Apr 11, 2024 | Manifestation, Motivation, Purpose, SCA Podcast

The Somatic Coaching Academy Podcast | Making pivotal decisions

Watch the episode

Listen to the podcast here

Transcript

Ani
Hi, and welcome to the Somatic Coaching Academy podcast. Hi there, Brian.

Brian
Hey, Ani.

Brian
How are you?

Ani
I’m really good. I was going to make a joke about how I was having trouble deciding what we should do for the podcast today, but I decided not to make that joke because you actually decide what we’re going to talk about, and I just get to show up and be brilliant. So welcome to episode 24.

Brian
So I could say I was having trouble to decide what to talk about.

Ani
You could make that joke, but rather, let me say, Hey, Brian, what have you decided that we’re going to talk about today?

Brian
Well, actually, Ani, this is part one of a four-part series that we’re going to have on how to make pivotal life decisions. This is part one. And so part one, the subcaption for this part, for this podcast episode is ‘Why People Play Small or Not at All’.

Ani
Oh, good title. That’s really good. I like that. I’m so glad we’re talking about this because, hey, who said that the quality of the decisions that you make? No, I’m thinking of a different quote anyway. It’s true, though. We make so many decisions every single day of our lives. And so many things that we talk about at the Somatic Coaching Academy, decisions or something. I don’t think we ever had a class in how to make aligned decisions. It’s one of these things that after an episode like this, we’re going to get emails from the community saying things like, Why don’t they teach this stuff in school? I wish I had known this all of my life. And it’s the things that our students say has really changed their lives to be able to make powerful aligned decisions.

Brian
Yeah, it’s so true, Ani. We weren’t taught this. We weren’t taught a way to make decisions clearly to enhance our own lives, usually in earlier part of our life. And I think this is evidence by, I did a quick Google search on, I just popped in there, ‘how to make decisions’. And in 0.35 seconds, Google came back with 5 billion results. So it tells me that a lot of people need or looking for advice on how do I make a decision. So it’s a huge thing that obviously no one was taught how to do, and everyone’s trying to figure out how to do now. I thought that was interesting. So let’s talk about part one of our four-part series. So let’s just talk about what is a decision.

Ani
That would be fantastic because I see this getting confused all the time out and about. People say that they’re going to make a decision, and then they just think about stuff, and they don’t actually do things or whatever. I could talk to people months later and say, I haven’t made a decision or whatever. I think it’s very confused what making a decision actually looks like.

Brian
If we take it to a small thing for a second, maybe to clarify what a decision is. So if someone’s standing in front of their closet and they’re looking at their clothes in their closet, and they’re trying to decide what to wear in their closet.

Ani
Which blue shirt should I wear today?

Brian
I have a lot I have blue shirts.

Ani
You do.

Brian
So which blue shirt should I wear today? I haven’t made a decision until I’m wearing the blue shirt.

Ani
So to contrast this with I’m looking in my closet at all the blue shirts, and I could say to myself, I’ve made a decision to wear that one. What you’re saying is the decision has not been made until it is on your body.

Brian
Until it’s on my body.

Ani
Think about that for a second. Think about that distinction, because I love that you brought this to such a practical, everyday thing, because so often we say, I’ve made a decision, and you’re not wearing the shirt.

Brian
we say the decision to pacify ourselves or to feed our ego or help ourselves feel safe or whatever. All those things, right? Because it pacifies some type of tension or anxiety. I’ve made the decision, I’m going to do this, and then we don’t follow through on it. We are pacified, but then we don’t follow through. We didn’t really make the decision.

Ani
I want to back up to something you just said. I think it’s so important because when we talk about making ourselves feel better or pacifying. There can be a lot of shame or guilt around the fact that we do that. But let’s just back up the train and highlight with a big old highlighter, something that you said, that it helps us to feel safe. It helps us to feel safe because feeling agitated, feeling ashamed, feeling guilty, feeling, feeling, feeling all these things, very often does not feel safe. So it’s not just that I don’t feel good, and I’m going to do this thing so that I can feel better. We’re trying to help our nervous systems feel safe all the time.

Brian
And that’s our subconscious default state. If you’re asking your subconscious to choose between certainty and uncertainty, it’s going to choose certainty every time, even if the certainty will lead to death, a slow death. Not a fast death, but a slow death. This is the thing about smoking. Every time someone makes a decision to light up a cigarette, there’s plenty of evidence to show that for the vast majority of people, not 100% of the people, for the vast majority of people, that if you’re smoking regularly, it’s going to decrease your lifespan and your health quality. Everybody knows that. And yet people still are smoking. So why is that? Because their subconscious is making the decision to light up the cigarette, to pacify something else that’s going on. And that feels certain. Being pacified feels certain. And known. It’s known.

Ani
It’s safe.

Brian
So making a decision that creates uncertainty takes more energy, actually. And the subconscious doesn’t like to expend that energy to do that. So it’s almost like if I’m standing in front of my closet and I have to go to a meeting, maybe I don’t know the people in the meeting, and I’m looking at a shirt, blue shirt that I’ve worn to a whole bunch of meetings, and I have a brand new blue shirt that’s maybe a little edgy. I’m going to be like, I’m going to wear the… If I was letting my subconscious choose, it would choose the old standby blue shirt every single time, not the edgy blue shirt. It takes more energy to make that decision. That’s a new decision that’s associated with uncertainty.

Ani
Have you been in a store recently where they sell cigarettes and the amount of signage they have about how it can kill you? It’s really interesting. I was in a gas station getting a milkshake with our son Oliver, the the other day, and I was looking over by the cigarettes, and there’s like neon signs with the biggest letters I’ve ever seen saying, This is going to kill you. Beware. And it was just, that’s what’s happening with the subconscious that is still choosing the known. Can we just take a second and talk about conscious versus subconscious decision here for just a second? Because we all think that we’re so conscious, we make conscious decisions. But the conscious mind is approximately 5% of our mind power, and the subconscious mind, which is our body and all of our physiological processes. It’s like a lot. It’s 95% of our total mind power. So if we think that we’re making decisions with the 5%, we’ve really got to be kidding ourselves. We’re really making decisions with our subconscious mind. The subconscious mind is telling us how to think about things. It’s telling us how to feel about things.

Ani
And until we expertly know how to navigate the land of the subconscious mind and how it functions and what it’s telling us and all of that stuff, we can’t really truly know that we’re in alignment and making powerful decisions.

Brian
This is also what you’re saying, Ani, is also tied in with our physiology and our metabolism. Our body and our brain are also designed to conserve energy, to conserve metabolic expenditure. Every decision, especially if it’s a new decision, requires a metabolic expenditure. It’s one of my favorite stories about this was Steve Jobs, of Apple, created the iPod and iPhone, all these things. He wore a black turtle neck every day because he knew that even the micro energy he would spend to try to stand in front of this closet, decide what shirt to wear, would take energy away from him making an even more important decision later on in the day. Absolutely. As the day goes on, if we expend energy with decision making early in the day, it makes it harder at the end of the day. For any of us with kids, anybody with kids, the kids are like, they wear you down to the point where you’re like, fine, ice cream right before dinner is just fine. Go ahead. Kind of thing because we’re just worn down energetically by it.

Ani
I cannot make another decision.

Brian
I cannot make another decision. So decision fatigue is a real thing, too.

Ani
It’s real. Yeah.

Brian
So all those things add up to little decisions, to big decisions. But we’re here talking about pivotal decisions. I think you can roadmap pivotal decisions by understanding the smaller decisions, like what we’re talking about in terms of the subconscious is going to choose the safety, our body is going to metabolically preserve energy, making a different new choice expends more energy. So that’s where the conscious mind actually comes into play. We have to consciously decide to expend that energy and move the subconscious metabolism in a new direction. So that’s where the conscious mind comes into play. But if we’re not consciously thinking about that, we’ll always default back to the easier, more known choice because it saves energy.

Ani
Saves energy. And in the world we’re living in today, it’s busy.

Brian
Busy, yeah.

Ani
One of our kids was saying something about how; We were joking when we were kids, we had to go to the library and look things up in the encyclopedia because there wasn’t Google. And they were like, How did you have time? I said, I think I felt like I had so much more time. I don’t just think that that’s because I’m older and I was a child. I was actually talking to my dad about this, and he was like, No, it actually felt like there was more time. I was commenting about how when I was a kid, he had to drive me around all over the place. And now I’m a parent, and I’m driving my kids all over the place, and I always feel like there’s just not enough time. And I said to him, How did you have enough time to do that? And he said, I went to work. I opened my computer. I did my thing. I closed my computer, and I went home.

Brian
I didn’t take my computer home with me. I didn’t have my computer in my pocket.

Ani
And he’s like, I didn’t have much else to do. I drove you around after I was done with work, and it was nice. And then he was in this thing about how nice it was to drive me around. We saw things, and we did things. And I’m thinking, that is not the life I’m living because of technology. So it feels like life is so compressed. We’re all very busy. And so I think we can all understand that our subconscious mind is just going, “Hey, can we just make it easy here”? But it is a conscious decision to expend some extra energy so that you can make a powerful decision and change your life forever. But it is going to take some energy initially. What happens sometimes is we’re like, Oh, my God, it’s so hard. But it’s going to take some energy initially, and then we get a new change. Hey, Brian, pivotal. So when you’re talking about pivotal decisions, what do you mean, pivotal?

Brian
I’m talking about a decision that changes the trajectory of your life.

Ani
So you’re not talking about which blue shirt.

Brian
I’m not talking about which blue shirt. I’m just trying to frame the blue shirt as a foundational understanding of making a pivotal decision.

Ani
And I think this is really important because life always works in paradox. And so even though we’re using this example of the blue shirt, looking at the example of the blue shirt actually helps us to understand how we make pivotal decisions even better. But the pivotal decision isn’t the blue shirt. It’s working within the paradox here.

Brian
Yeah, certainly. So far, where we are in the conversation here, when we’re talking about why people play small or not at all, so far, we’re saying is if someone doesn’t have enough energy to make a pivotal decision, they’re always going to make the smaller decision. And I think to your point, Ani, nowadays, there’s so many things that suck our energy away. It gives less energy to be able to make more pivotal decisions in their lives.

Ani
Yeah. Imagine if you could make a decision to learn and live your purpose. I can’t imagine what it’s like, to be perfectly honest with you, not knowing what my purpose is nowadays. We’ve been working with a purpose-finding tool that we use ‘Find Your Soul’s Agenda’ for about 10 years. I can’t imagine not knowing my purpose and not knowing how to make decisions in alignment with that. That’s a pivotal decision. I’m going to learn my purpose and live my purpose.

Brian
And initially, that’s going to take energy.

Ani
Initially, it’s going to take energy.

Brian
But just initially, and on the other end of that, we both can agree that decisions actually get a lot easier when you have a compass to help you make the decision. Then there’s less waffling about the decision. We’re going to talk about that in just a couple of minutes. Because that even takes more energy. Like the not deciding, the waffling, the back and forth, the deciding, and then eventually we say, Oh, I’ll just wait to do it. I’ll wait to do it later on. We’re going to talk about healthy and unhealthy waiting in an upcoming podcast. Not going to happen today. It’s coming. Can I share an example of some pivotal decisions in my life as a framework? Sure.

Ani
I was one of them, I’m sure.

Brian
Yes, you were.

Ani
Am I on the list?

Brian
But you’re a lot later. I’m going back earlier. I’m going way back earlier in time.

Ani
We’ll talk about that in two episodes from now.

Brian
When I graduated from college, as a physical therapist, I was 22 years old. It was at the time when the market was open. There was so many openings for PTs, lots of jobs, lots of job opportunities. You could go anywhere. I just graduated in Buffalo, New York. It’s like, who stays in Buffalo? It’s like, Buffalo gets a bad rap. It’s a cool place, but I was ready to go. I needed mountains, and it’s flat there. I needed more outdoor activities and steep things to climb and that stuff. I got an invitation, actually. I was recruited by a hospital down in North Carolina, and they flew me down there and put me up in a nice hotel and gave me breakfast and walked me through. I was able to shadow some people. It was a teaching hospital in North Carolina, right in the mountains in North Carolina, in the Smokies. It was just amazing. Teaching hospital, I was blown away. I was like, Oh, my God, this is amazing. I was like, This is the chance of a lifetime. I’m in the mountains, I’m in a teaching hospital.

Brian
There’s lots of amazing things going on down here. There’s research happening at this place. It was really exciting. I went back home and I decided to stay in Buffalo.

Ani
What? Why did you do that? Why did you do that?

Brian
All this thing because here’s the thing. I was dating a girl in Buffalo at the time.

Ani
Oh, snap. I literally have the same story.

Brian
I stayed in Buffalo because of this relationship, and I ended up working at Buffalo General Hospital, which was a nice place to work, but it was not Memorial Hospital in North Carolina at the time, which is doing all this cutting edge research. And so I think back, so I made a pivotal decision to stay where I was. Now, why? Here’s the part of the story that’s like, wow. So my parents met in college, got married, and started a family. And I was never told, you’re going to meet your partner in college and get married and start a family, but I was never not told that either. And so family for my parents was a big deal. Actually, my whole extended family was a big deal. And you get a job, you meet the person you’re going to spend the rest of your life with, you get married, you settle down, you have kids.

Brian
That’s what you do. That’s what you’re supposed to do.

Ani
And nobody sat you down and read you that list. Nobody read me.

Brian
I just knew it because I grew up in it. That’s what I was soaked up in. And so I’m 22 years old and had an opportunity to go and be in some place that would just lit me up, It could lit me up. All the things I love about my life was right there. I went back and I made the decision I was supposed to make. I made this decision that I was supposed to make and stayed in Buffalo. It was a totally subconscious decision, and I thought I was making the right decision.

Ani
That’s what I was going to ask you. You thought you were making the right decision? I thought I was making the right decision. Like, logical and this makes sense.

Brian
This makes sense. Then about six months later, the girl I was dating at the time decided she wanted to spend more time with her people at her office that she was starting her new job at. And suddenly I became less important to her. And then she took a job in moving to Pennsylvania. And I was like, what? Wait a minute. So when I got the call to go back to Craig Hospital in Denver, Colorado, where I did an internship previously, I was Yes. There was no hesitation. That decision was the most pivotal decision, I think, I made in my very early life to move out of, to move out of state, to move across the country, especially when my father was sending me clippings of jobs around home. He was literally sending me clippings.

Ani
I know he is because he still does it.

Brian
It’s funny. He was like, There’s a job at Albany. There’s a job at Amsterdam, Morial Hospital. There’s a job here. It’s a job there. I was like, I am not making that mistake again. I’m going to move to Colorado, the mountains, climbing, being outdoors at Craig Hospital, world renowned hospital that teaches and educates and all that. It was like, I just landed in Shangri-La. There’s a difference to making now a conscious decision to grow in the direction I want to go, to make a decision to become more of who I am, who I want to be in the world, and not who I’m supposed to be in the world. There’s my story about to contrast, compare pivotal decisions. I didn’t know I was making those decisions based on natural laws, which we’re going to talk about over the next four episodes. That’s really what I was doing.

Ani
And it’s a pivotal decision, and we all know it now from hearing your example. That changed the trajectory of your life. And when you talk about playing small or not at all, well, first of all, I have a lot of compassion for folks, especially when they have a lot of responsibility, like kids, and businesses, and dogs, and cats, and bills to pay, and stuff. Because I think for my own reflection, it’s been easier to make some pivotal decisions in my life, so I think, actually. So I could contrast that maybe another day, that it was easier when I didn’t have so much responsibility. The reality is that’s a trap. That’s a trap.

Brian
We’re going to talk about that in an upcoming episode.

Ani
Yeah, that’s a trap. But that’s where the mind went, right? So you made this pivotal decision, and I’m thinking to myself as I’m listening to you, how many people could reflect back on how many pivotal decisions they’ve made in their lives and count them on one hand? Because when you learn how to make great decisions in alignment with who you are and your purpose, you can make pivotal decisions. I mean, I made at least three off the top of my head this week, pivotal, that I could tell stories about this week. We’re making pivotal decisions all the time, which I think is really important because in the trajectory of the evolution of our life, are you going to wait forever to live? Are you going to know how to evolve so that you can continue over and over every day to step into decisions so that you’re more of who you are living in your purpose rather than who you think you should be or somebody else told you you should be?

Brian
Can I tell you a funny story? Sure. Something you taught me, actually, about making decisions. This is probably 18, 20 years ago, something like that. I was investigating QiGong and Tai Chi teacher training programs. I had been practicing Tai Chi and QiGong for a while on my own, and I was like, I’d really love to learn more about this. I did some Google searches, and it wasn’t Google around at that time. I don’t think it was. It was AOL, America Online searches or something. I found a training program that I really felt drawn to. Every week, I would go back to it and I’d look at where are the trainings coming up? Where are they happening? I’ll go back the next week and where are they going? I would read about it and I’d be like, I’m not ready to do that yet. I can’t do it. I read about it. And literally, I did that for five years. For five years, I knew where I was going to go do a training with. I knew who I was going to do it with.

Brian
I knew it was my destiny. And I waited five years-

Ani
You waited until you met me.

Brian
Until we got together. And then when I showed it to you, you said, I’m going to do that training. And I was like, You can’t do that. You got to wait five years. You got to sit on it for five years. You can’t do it. You can’t just make a decision just like that. What do you think? Who do you think you are? To just make a decision. I’ve been waiting five years. I’m in some imaginary queue that I’m waiting five years. I put myself in that queue because of all these reasons why it was not responsible to go. I would work in a job. The training was across the country. I had to fly. It took a week. I had to spend money. All the blah, blah, blah, stuff around being responsible. When you said you’re just going to go, I was like, You can’t do that. I’ve been waiting in line for this.

Ani
I remember this time because you were showing me on the internet this coveted thing. I think you sold me on it because I looked at it and I was like, That looks great.I’m going to go.

Brian
I’m like, You can’t go. Then I made the decision to go, and everything worked out amazing.

Ani
The decision is putting on this shirt. Brian, what did you do?

Brian
Well, I made the decision to go. I signed up. I put the deposit. I signed up. I gave the training company my money. I reserved my spot. Then once my spot was reserved there, I got a little nervous and a little this and a little that. But here’s the thing. I had made the commitment, for me, putting on the shirt was paying the money. Because once I had the money down, then my subconscious no longer was driving the whole show. If anything, maybe I’ll modify that a little bit. My subconscious maybe came on board a little bit and said, Now you can’t waste that money. So now go do the thing. So I went and did the thing. It wasn’t easy. I did have to figure out my life. I had to leave for a week, leave your business, you leave your family, all that stuff. So I had to figure that stuff out. But I’ll tell you what, that was most definitely one of the most pivotal life decisions I ever made in my entire life was going to that training and learning how to become a teacher of QiGong and Tai chi and that ended up, we created our own institute, and I met some amazing people.

Brian
I still love being in contact with that community. It’s like, oh, my God, that was one of the most pivotal decisions, and I was sitting on it for five years I sat on it.

Ani
Let’s talk about this for just a second. I’m not going to take us too far down this rabbit hole, but you and I also make decisions from a little bit of a different place, meaning you like to find a little bit of information about things or a lot information about things. You research things, whereas I make decisions from the gut. And so when you showed me the information, I knew it was an alignment, and I said, let’s go and let’s sign up. And you already had done the research, which works out very well for me, by the way, in life. I highly recommend partnerships like that. So there are going to be people who will make decisions from their gut. And oftentimes, when I talk to people about this, those folks think they’re crazy. They literally say that. But I think I’m crazy because I shouldn’t make decisions like that. Know thyself. And if you’re a person who relies on your intuition, then know that because that’s a tool you can use. And if you’re a person who likes to get a little information, also use that, but do not use it as an excuse to wait around.

Ani
Like Brian did for five years. For five years.

Brian
So I have a book. Can I read a little something? Sure. A little passage from Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill. There’s a whole chapter in here on decisions, on making decisions, a whole chapter on it. So for those of you who don’t know about Think and Grow Rich. Napoleon Hill spent time interviewing, he spent years interviewing, researching, hanging out with the most successful people of his generation, and he distilled from them the behaviors that made them successful. One of the things was decisions. I just want to just really two quick things. He starts off his decision chapter with, “Accurate analysis of over 25,000 men and women who had experienced failure disclosed the fact that lack of decision, in bold, was near the head of the list of the 30 major causes of failure.” Lack of decision. Lack of decision. Okay, he goes on to say, this is the part that I thought was really cool, “Analysis of several hundred people who had accumulated fortunes well beyond the million dollar mark disclosed the fact that every one of them, every single one of them had the habit of reaching decisions promptly and of changing these decisions slowly if and when they were changed. People who fail to accumulate money without exception have the habit of reaching decisions, if at all, very slowly, and of changing those decisions quickly and often.

Brian
When I had read that the first time, it brought me back to that sitting on the fence for five years thing and why I wasn’t creating the life that I wanted to create and why I really wasn’t happy or felt fulfilled or felt on purpose or felt engaged because I really had a habit of not making decisions at all. And if I made them at all, I made them very, very slowly. And really boiling it down to this question that I had asked myself is, what if I made pivotal decisions based on who I wanted to become in my life rather than who I was supposed to be? Yeah.

Ani
Yeah, that’s powerful. It’s really powerful. I’m thinking about this waiting, Brian, because our subconscious mind, that 95% of our mind power, it’s constantly helping us to get the current results that we have in our life in money, in relationships, and in health. Our subconscious mind is just going to keep getting the same results. And so we think that, I haven’t made a decision yet. When we’re prolonging and we’re waiting and we’re taking a bunch of time, the reality is what we’re doing is we’re further reconfirming our current programs in health, in wealth, and in relationships. And then we are further confirming our lack of decisiveness and our confidence and our inability to be confident. We’re further confirming our lack of trust in ourselves and our self doubt. And as we keep allowing that time to go by, we are further confirming our current programming, and it makes it harder.

Brian
Absolutely. Yeah. You build more momentum. I mean, lack of momentum, rather. More inertia, right? That’s the right word. You build more inertia to stay exactly where you are.

Ani
So the decision to prolong this decisions is a decision, and it is not a decision that moves you. It’s a decision to keep your current programming locked in place and confirm it.

Brian
A 100%. A 100%. Yeah.

Ani
So I really want you to ask yourself as you’re listening to this, do this. On a scale of zero to 10, how small do you feel like you’re playing? So let’s use the zero as, I am playing so small, like I’m so tiny, you could fit in my palm. Okay. And 10 is, I’m out there living loud, living proud, and evolving, and I know who I am, and I’m doing my thing.

Brian
I’m making decisions that are clearly in alignment with who I want to become more of in this world.

Ani
I make powerful, pivotal decisions. Okay, that’s a 10. Ask yourself, where you are right now, and be really honest with yourself. Ask yourself where you are right now on that scale of zero to 10. I think that that level of self-reflection is required because, of course, we can’t change anything we’re not aware of. And it’s a very nebulous topic. How small am I playing? Go ahead and rate yourself. Think about it. And then you can do something from there because you have an awareness. That awareness is not a decision, by the way, not to play small anymore. Don’t mistake awareness for decision making.

Brian
Good point, Ani.

Ani
Thanks. That’s a tweetable. Yeah, that is definitely a tweetable. It’s not even tweet anymore.

Brian
No, it’s X-able.

Ani
Yeah, whatever.

Brian
So you you got that rating. Keep that close by. Keep that right by you for the next four episodes. Well, three more, I guess. This is the first one. Three more episodes of this series on how to make pivotal life decisions. Thanks so much for joining us for this episode 24, and we’ll see you next time on 25. Bye-bye.

Get started today!

Start your Somatic Coach Training Journey by Unlocking Human Potential… Our students always say, “I wish I had started sooner!”

Click to Unlock Human Potential