The internet tells us adults make over 30,000 decisions every day, but I would guess when we are in the midst of a major life transition — a job change, an engagement, a new house, a new baby, new school, injury or diagnosis, new responsibilities or even a crisis of faith — the number of new decisions goes up and the weight of the usual ones are even heavier.
If you are in a time of transition, you are a prime candidate for decision fatigue.
For anyone who needs to re-focus, to receive what this transition has to teach you, instead of running past it in excitement or running from it in fear, I give you this — A Soul Minimalist’s Guide for Starting Over.
1. Be a Beginner
When we talk about new beginnings, we usually frame the concept with phrases of hope like springtime, flowers blooming, a new love, a new start.
On a hard day, we encourage ourselves with tomorrow is a new day! Joy is going to come in the morning.
New beginnings are usually welcome. But being a beginner? Not so much.
We want our circumstances to change, to start again, to be brand new. But when they change, we often don’t give ourselves permission to be new within them.
All beginnings hold elements of both joy and heartbreak. When we enter a new beginning, we have generally also experienced some kind of ending which comes with layered emotions and experiences of grief, transition, and letting go.
And so I say all of this just to get us here: don’t be afraid to be a beginner. Be relentlessly kind to yourself.
Let yourself be a beginner and receive all the gifts beginning has to give.
2. Stop Collecting Gurus
One way I’ve discovered helps me live my life more fully is to take inventory when anxiety shows up. Rather than avoid it as I’m most prone to do, I choose instead to stop, to notice, and in this case, pay attention to the story my inbox was telling me.
When we’re confronted with starting over, it can be tempting to look outside of ourselves for confident voices to point the way for us. This isn’t a bad thing, but it can keep us from settling into ourselves and quiet enough to hear the voice of God.
Cleaning out my inbox one day, I realized I had emails from experts in all areas – online marketing, book launching, fashion, and de-cluttering. What I didn’t have was space to consider my next right thing.
It was obvious I had way too many gurus talking to me and if I wanted to get clarity, I needed to take a break from them.
“The farther the outward journey takes you, the deeper the inward journey must be.”
If you need help in taking inventory of the voices you need to hang on to and the ones you need to set aside, at least for a time listen in to Episode 32 of The Next Right Thing Podcast or read the transcript here.
3. Gather Co-Listeners
If you aren’t sure what to do next, maybe you need to gather some co-listeners.
This is different than collecting gurus. There’s something powerful about gathering people who know you well specifically for the purpose of listening, question asking, and reflection. At the very least, it will force you to do some deep thinking about the issue you’re trying to discern in this transition because you’ll want to be ready for the co-listeners questions and insights.
Knowing our Father, our friend Jesus, and the Holy Spirit who lives and dwells within us, my guess is that he isn’t so concerned with the outcome of our decision at least not in the same way we are.
But he would be delighted to know that the decision we are carrying is moving us toward community and not away from it, that it is leading us to depend on others more and not less, and that it is turning our face toward his with a posture of listening with the hopeful expectation of receiving an answer.
“Listening can be a greater service than speaking.”
If you are staring a big decision in the face and you aren’t sure where to turn listen in to Episode 33 of The Next Right Thing for tips on gathering a co-listening group of your own or read the transcript here.
4. Pick What You Like
If you feel unsure in a new situation, overwhelm is usually not far behind.
When I stood in the middle of the garden center with one plant in my cart and not sure what to do next, I felt stuck and began to feel that familiar discouragement I get when confronted with a simple decision that has many options in an area where I don’t have a lot of confidence.
The discouragement barreled down fast. It was familiar, it was annoying, and it was kind of ridiculous.
What does it look like to just start or to start over, to take a next right step towards something we want even if we feel unsure? Maybe a good place to start is to simply pick what you like, then see how it grows.
“The beginning space was actually a holy space, not just a layover on my way to something better.”
–Leeana Tankersley, Begin Again