Stuck? Maybe it’s because you are smart…

signpost at sunset_ stuck_ decision making

I adore my clients. I am continually grateful to be working with people who love working with me and the very best bit of having been in practice so long is that the referrals I get for my unique mix of Architectural Interior Designer-come-Coach are often a perfect match. I am not saying this to brag, but to put the following article in the context of caring service, not criticism.

Most of my clients are very smart people. I work with successful lawyers, doctors, business people and entrepreneurs at the top of their game. My twenty years experience in the design world has revealed a pattern: often the smarter my clients are, the more stuck they get. Decisions that prevent the beginning of, or are required in the process of a renovation will become overwhelming and fraught, and one of two outcomes will present: either progress will be slowed or stopped, or a rash decision that has not been well thought out will be made, simply because it is there, and easy. 

My clients may put it down to business distractions and demands, to juggling work and family life, to marital discord, or to cost. But I’d like to offer that the root of the problem lies in their clever brains.

When I sit with my smart-but-stuck clients they initially fill the room with their own reasoning, their assessment of their own behaviour, and their belief structures. They tell me the efforts they have gone to, to get to the root of their problems, and that it is most definitely (as it is unsolvable by them) an external issue. They tell me, in advance, that it is unlikely I will be able to solve their problems. 

But I know the Truth. And deep down, so do they (or they wouldn’t have employed me!). It is nothing to do with anyone or anything else. They are creating their own stuck-ness.

Whaaaat??? Read on…

We humans can cleverly (and as far as our brains are concerned, perfectly rationally) justify our stuck-ness to reasons outside of our control. And we can be quite comfortable with that thought.

Cat stuck in bird box

NEWS FLASH: for as long as we believe that external factors are causing our indecision, we are giving away the power to change our results. 

Right let’s go a step back before I go on with this: how can you tell if it is your clever brain cutting you in a holding loop, getting in the way of your decision making, your clarity and your productivity? There are 6 telltale signs (any of these is an indicator, more than one is a definite!).

You’ve watched other people get stuck and been able to figure their way out for them

You have read your fair share of psychology and self-help books, and consider yourself pretty self-aware

You are a high achiever

You are embarrassed by being stuck, and feel this is very out of character (or at least out of your desired character traits)

You are hiding your stuck-ness behind a successful show

You consider it is unlikely that someone else will be able to coach you out of this, if you can’t do it yourself

So how do I help my clients move past feeling stuck?

The first step is taking responsibility. Yes that icky feeling you now have, perhaps with a measure of defensiveness? That means you are being honest with yourself. 

The second is having a long hard look at your current position and thinking. You have to know, truly, where you are right now, to enable you to move forward. 

The third is to set a target. In the age old wisdom, if you don’t know where you are going, you’ll get there. We have to set our internal sat-nav up to get to our desired destination.

But how do you know which destination to set your Sat Nav to??? Surely this is part of the issue?

Here are some ways I speak to my clients about this:
Future you:

Let’s say you have two options. I wave my magic wand and both of them work out perfectly – forget the impossible nature of the journey, just think of the perfect results. Now. Which one fills you with more joy? This is the choice you should make.

What’s your why?:

Knowing what your “why?” is will frequently pave the way for the right course of action. Choose an option open to you. Why is this important to you? And why is THIS important? Repeat this question for a minimum of 5 Why’s, to get to a root why. Not only will this help clarify but knowing your foundational why will also give you the motivation and resilience to see your option through.

Trust your gut:

If you have a number of options, take your self to a quiet space and settle. Ask yourself, calmly, if you want option a. Note your response in the nanosecond after you ask. You will have a sense of a future opening up, or a sense of a future getting smaller. This little reaction is your intuition. Listen to it! Repeat for all options. Choose the one which gives the most expansive reaction.

You must be aware of the difference between intuition saying no, and fear. Once you have stablished that the action you are considering does not endanger you or another, fear will only appear as your brain’s way of trying to keep you safe, keep you in the cave where there are no new things that could be dangerous. While this was an essential part of our survival as a species (better to think there is a poisonous snake and be wrong, than assume it is OK and get bitten), we would have got nowhere if we hadn’t left the cave!

Now you have a decision, what are you feeling? You will most likely be filled with relief. All the energy your brain has been using to oscillate between your different options, can now be engaged fully in one direction. This single line of focus, with a solid why and confidence that your choice has been made soundly, ensures the best possible result.

So now you can put your smarts to productive use!

If you would like to read more about developing a direction, see my article “Project Sat Nav, finding your project’s direction”

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It is hard to hold acceptance as possible in the face of brutality. It is hard to hold that every person is 100% worthy in the face of murder, when my first, visceral thought creates abhorrence. 
My second thought is the one I choose: 
I do not now, nor will I ever accept wilful, wasteful, bitter harm to another human. I allow and want myself to be deeply upset and angered by this. 
I accept that this behaviour was a choice made by a human. 
I hold that humans are 100% worthy, regardless of behaviour. 
Accepting someone as they are, with free will to make good or bad choices does not mean I do not hold them accountable for their behaviour. 
It does not mean I agree or condone their behaviour. 
I do not accept or condone brutality or murder. 
I stand against this behaviour. 
I stand for humans. 
All humans. 
I want humans to make better choices.
Happily finished pre-lockdown, my clients get to enjoy their wonderful finished home a LOT now! 
Sneak peek of a recently finished home in Prinsted for hands down the #bestclientsever. This wood floor is brand new but so expertly laid by my favourite @justwoodflooring looks like it is original to the property. 
Complete trust from my clients allowed for some amazing interior details options to open up, like curved corners to the walls (SO worth the effort). All to create a modern ‘old’ home. 
Architect: @helyer_davies 
Architectural Interior Design: @ableandhardie 
Flooring: @justwoodflooring 
Paint: @benjaminmoore 
A bit of a side step from my normal appreciation, but for architecture, and for the love of horses, I couldn’t let this pass. Designed by @matiaszegers, this stable has the maximum daylight pouring in through its cleverly envisaged roof. 
I want to come back as one of these horses...