I’ve always thought gut was an ugly word. It’s the belly, the bowels and everything dark in between. Pain and discomfort seem inevitable counterparts. So when do I trust my gut? When it hurts.
When I can’t sleep, when I feel as though I am bound to fail, when I’m sure that anyone else would be better suited for the job, when I’m nearing panic. That’s when I know that my gut instincts can’t be ignored. Ease and comfort will never be equal motivators.
When my beloved gray velvet couch has molded itself around my body’s form, I know it’s time to accept the new challenge that's been brewing. These are the best, most terrifying times. I feel the weight of everything that could go wrong in the pressure of my pen as I furiously scribble, trying to eek out answers from blankness. But then, hours, days or weeks later, there is a map of sorts. It’s a map of a vision that feels impossible, but also absolutely necessary to my being.
Choosing to chase my dream and build my non-profit was a gut decision that I did everything to fight against. There were other options that seemed safer, more “correct,” better suited for the future that I could not see, but none of them felt fulfilling. That’s the tricky thing about going with your gut. We often spend our time lamenting about how risky or difficult it will be to “go with our gut,” yet we rarely consider whether it will be equally or more difficult to deny that tug.
Does that mean my gut nails it every time? Of course not. And let's be honest, I'm having meltdowns on the reg. But the experience has taught me a lot about trusting myself. If you’re constantly doubting your capability instead of testing it, you’ll never strengthen it.
Most of us start out with weak stomachs. That’s OK. It takes time to build up a rapport with our inner selves. Use a mental checklist to help recognize when trusting your gut is the way to go:
If you’re playing tug of war with an idea for more than a month, it probably means you’re looking for any excuse to shoot down your gut. Save yourself the agony of anticipation and take the plunge. That stress can be much more productively channeled through real action.
You will always fail if you assume that trusting your gut will make things easier. In fact, it’s usually the exact opposite. Decisions that require our gut to chime in are challenging because they require commitment far beyond that initial yes or no. We are heavily invested in the outcome and worried that it’s our fault if things don’t work out, so yes, that’s hard. But don’t beat yourself up if it feels like an uphill battle every time you listen to that little voice. Great achievement requires great sacrifice.
It’s a lot harder to make decisions about our own lives than it is to give advice to others, right? Imagine that someone else is at your crossroads. What would you tell them to do? Would you be more confident in the gut decision if you were not responsible for its execution? It sounds silly, but relieving yourself of the personal pressure and looking at the situation more objectively can really help!