In episode 5, we dive into something that is at the heart of spiritual entrepreneurship: intuitive decision making. We explore what it means to bring your intuition – your deep inner wisdom – into your decision-making process. You’ll discover how to discern whether your decisions are coming from a place of intuition or a place of fear. Then, I’ll give you actionable steps that will help you connect with your inner wisdom so that you can make decisions that align with your values.
Intuitive decision-making is important for all entrepreneurs, but I think it’s especially crucial for those of us who consider ourselves holistic or spiritual entrepreneurs. When we can learn to listen to our inner wisdom, we will start to make decisions that will align our businesses with our true selves.
First, I’ll help you learn to recognize whether you’re making decisions based on fear or intuition. I share with you some personal examples of when I operated in fear. (Spoiler alert: it did not go well.) Eventually, I regrouped, learning to let my inner wisdom guide me in my business and my life. That’s when everything changed.
At the end of this episode, you’ll learn how to discern whether you’re making decisions based on fear or intuition (or possibly a little of both). You will have actionable steps that will help you overcome that fear and move into a place of power and contentment.
The Opposite of Intuition?
Initially, I thought fear was the opposite of intuitive decision-making. But I realized it’s a false dichotomy. Our decision-making process is more of a spectrum, with 100% fear-based on one end, and 100% intuition-based on the other. We often move between the two as we navigate through our business and our lives.
In June 2016, I started Caravel Coaching after a decade of working as a mental health therapist and social worker. I loved being a therapist: it allowed me to serve my clients in a powerful way, helping them make positive change in their lives.
In 2015 after four fabulous years living in Germany, I took some time off to help my family transition. My husband went from military life to civilian life, he purchased a dental practice, and my kids were adjusting to life in America. I decided to make helping my family my full-time job.
About nine months in, I realized I missed having a professional identity, and I missed helping people. But I knew, intuitively, that mental health counseling wasn’t my calling anymore. I also knew I was put on this earth to help people. It was a classic example of my intuition telling me that I still needed to serve people, but that I needed to move out of the psychotherapy role.
This realization was confusing and terrifying. I was questioning my identity after a decade as a professional therapist and social worker. Who was I? What was I? It was a scary and uncertain place.
One day, driving home from a continuing psychotherapy education seminar, I was trying to figure out what to do next. Out of the blue, the word “coaching” popped into my mind, clearly and unmistakably, almost as if another voice spoke into my head. I nearly drove off the road I was so startled.
I didn’t know much about coaching at first, and what I did know wasn’t positive. But I also knew I received a clear sign – a definite intuitive hit – that coaching was in the cards for me. After some research, I realized coaching helps people create the lives they want. As a coach, I could remove the shackles of the medical model and help people co-create extraordinary growth in their lives. I decided to start training and eventually received my accreditation from the International Coach Federation.
My Experience With Fear-Based Decision Making
When I first started Caravel Coaching, I had a driving desire to make it work. I was spending time, energy, and a lot of money on this business, and I had to be successful. I had to be profitable. I could not fail. Fear was leading me to keep moving in a direction I wasn’t sure I wanted to travel. I was putting an enormous amount of stress and pressure on myself.
When I’m under stress, I start researching. I researched “successful coaching programs,” but all I found were models of “corporate coaching.” That’s what paid well and made successful coaches, so I assumed I needed to follow suit.
As I began to structure my corporate coaching business, I knew deep down it wasn’t what I wanted to do. My business wasn’t reflecting me.
I wasn’t making decisions based on my values or my intuition; I was making them based on fear. I felt unsatisfied, and my inner trolls began to surface, telling me I was a failure and a fraud.
Recognizing Fear-Based Decision Making
After the first year, I stepped back. That’s when I realized everything I was doing came from a place of fear. The more I wrestled with it, the more I began to understand why I wasn’t feeling satisfied in my work. When we approach anything in life from a place of fear, there is very little chance we will see the sustainable growth that we want.
Fear is a vice grip around our souls, and at some point, something is going to give.
Starting Over and Letting Intuition Lead the Way
In the summer of 2017, I started back at square one. I created a new website and created my own logo, making sure every piece of my business and my brand looked like me. I didn’t want to try to fit a mold. I was showing up authentically.
It was my way of acknowledging the fear and moving back towards intuition. I recognized how fear had affected my decision-making process and then made the conscious decision not to operate from that space anymore. Even if it meant risking failure, and even if it meant people asking what the hell I was doing, I was going to create a business that came from my soul. I spent an entire year living out of alignment, and it did not feel good. I knew I never wanted to do it again.
I don’t believe in mistakes. I learned a lot of lessons that continue to inform my practice with my clients. Many of them are going through the same thing, making decisions rooted in fear instead of intuition. It’s important to share my story so other entrepreneurs realize they can bring their businesses back into alignment with who they are.
When I finally stopped and took stock of what was going on in my business, I was practicing a key concept of spiritual entrepreneurship: discernment. When I took an objective look at my decisions, I could discern if they were made in fear of wisdom.
Discernment is helpful when we are trying to figure out which actions to take, but it’s also important to figure out how to move forward when we hear a stern “NO.” I don’t know about you, but this happens for me a lot: I’m ready to take action, but then I get a sense that it’s not the right thing to do or it’s not the right time. A “no” shows up differently for different people. Sometimes it’s procrastination, false starting, or just a sense that something is off. (For more about these intuitive hits, check out my interview with Emily Walker as we talk more about procrastination as a fear mechanism).
In order to move forward, we have to learn how to discern whether the “no” is our fear talking, or whether it’s our intuition. Discernment can help us decide.
Taking Action: How You Can Cultivate Discernment
At the 17:00 mark of the podcast, I talk about cultivating the power of discernment to help us recognize whether we are making decisions based on fear or based on intuition. I’ve discovered four ways to tap into that discernment and listen to what your intuition is telling you.
How does your body feel?
Start by being fully aware of how the fear and intuition show up in your physical body.
When I make fear-based decisions, I’m unsettled and anxious, and I feel physically uncomfortable. I feel physically constricted in my chest and my throat. For me, I connect these physical sensations to chakras: the fourth chakra, or the heart chakra, and the fifth chakra, or the throat chakra. Those areas feel tight for me when I come from a place of fear.
(New to chakra work? Don’t worry; I’ll have more on that in a future episode!)
When I operate from intuition, there isn’t any tension or tightness. I feel rooted, grounded, and calm. I feel it in my belly and my solar plexus. I notice calm in my 2nd chakra, where creativity lies, and the 3rd chakra – the solar plexus – which is the seat of our power.
By assessing physical sensations in our bodies, we can discern whether our decisions come from fear or intuition.
Have a conversation with your intuition.
Write it down in a journal. Don’t censor yourself of your feelings: just start writing. What comes out on the paper will often reveal what your intuition is trying to tell you. You might also write questions to your intuition, then using a different pen, allow your inner wisdom to answer. Ask the question, then sit and wait. Sometimes, fear starts to show up, but continue writing through that fear. Your intuition will show up.
I meditate every day and find it to be of the most effective tools to hone our intuitive skills.
When I begin meditating, I have a lot of “chatter” in my brain. Sometimes, it’s innocuous, and sometimes it’s hurtful because it comes from a place of fear. Meditation allows us to see those thoughts as they come up, but it enables us to let those thoughts go on by without believing them and attaching to them. Meditation gives our intuition room to play.
Want to learn more about meditation and mindfulness? My book, “ACT on Your Business” offers practical, step-by-step guides to mindfulness and meditation. I think you’ll find it useful.
I talk about one of my favorite guided meditations at about 27:00. This meditation introduces you to your inner mentor, the voice of your intuition.
You can find more guided meditations in the book “Playing Big” by Tara Mohr.
Have a conversation with your fear.
Fear isn’t all bad. It wants to serve us and keep us safe. Try having a “conversation” with fear and ask, “okay, what do you want me to know?” From that, you can discern whether or not to consider that point.
It’s important to note that even when we make decisions based on intuition, fear may still show up. Fear exists to keep us safe, so if there’s anything that is threatening to safety, we will probably feel a sense of fear. To learn more about fear, listen to the podcast starting at about 20:00. The bottom line is this: discernment allows us to recognize fear and then grants us the power of choice: is this a time we need to stay safe, or a time when we need to play big?
When you’re feeling stuck and having trouble discerning between fear and intuition, a coach might be helpful. A good coach doesn’t give you the answers. A good coach believes you already have within you everything you need to find the answers, tapping into your own power and solution.
Make It Work Moment
Applying these tips and taking enlightened action in your business. When it comes to intuitive decision-making, think about the fear-intuition spectrum. Next time you make a decision in business or life, pause, check in, and ask, “where am I on the spectrum right now?”
If you don’t know, that’s okay! Use one of the discernment strategies we talked about today, or create your own to determine whether you’re deciding for fear or intuition.
Ask yourself, “what do I need to do to make this more aligned.”
Once you’ve had this intuitive moment, I want to hear about it! Head over to the Work Your Inner Wisdom Facebook Community and discuss what you’ve discovered with like-minded entrepreneurs. Tell us how you used discernment to recognize whether you’re making decisions from fear or intuition.
If you’re looking for more practical steps from this episode, sign up for my email list to receive the weekly “Deeper Dive.” You can also find more resources at the FREE Wisdom Library on the Work Your Inner Wisdom website.
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Join me next time as we discover how to discern whether our decisions are based on fear or intuition. Until then, let your inner wisdom lead the way.