Category Archives: decisions

Find the No-Brainer Scenario: Work for Myself or a Company?

Recently I asked the members of the Shmorian Society what they wished the No-Brainer Scenario could help them decide. I left it open-ended, because I’m starting to believe that there are very few situations the technique won’t help with.

Here’s one of the responses I got:

I wish the No-Brainer Scenario could tell me whether working for a company or for myself is the better option for me, a mother with house payments and childcare payments as my main obligations. By working for someone else I have stable income but not as much flexibility in my schedule; solopreneurship would provide the flexibility (I think) but probably not the stable income.

I’m not sure I’d be a better mom if I was physically there for my kids but distracted by emotional worries due to financial insecurities.

The No-Brainer Scenario technique can definitely help with this, but possibly not in the way you would expect.

The technique can’t tell you which option is better for you, because that’s a subjective question only you can answer. (And I wholeheartedly believe that what’s best for you is always whatever your heart wants.)

What the technique can help you with is to clarify what you want, and the conditions you would need to feel safe to go after it.

When I read between the lines of your question, what I get is that you feel frustrated at the lack of flexibility in your schedule. You want to be able to be there for your kids more.

And yet you’re also concerned that if you opt for more flexibility, you’ll have to accept a decrease in stability. It’s very wise for you to realize that if you’re stressing about finances all the time, you’re probably not doing your kids any favors.

So for the sake of this post, let’s assume that you do want to work for yourself. And at the same time you don’t think that’s a practical solution because of the whole stability thing.

How the No-Brainer Scenario can help

Part of what the technique does is to create a container where you can explore what you want without worrying about how to make it happen.

The way to start is by asking yourself, “What would make it a No-Brainer to work for myself instead of for a company?”

Next, it’s time to list everything you’d need to feel good about giving up the apparent stability of working for a company in exchange for more flexibility.

I’m just making some educated guesses, of course, but maybe your list would look something like this:

  • My business would be truly flexible & not suck me in to working at other people’s offices all day.
  • Although the monthly income might vary, I’d be able to bring in a minimum of $2000 per month.
  • I’d have a cushion of 6 months of living expenses saved up, for added security.
  • The added flexibility would allow me to cut my childcare costs by half or more.

The possibilities are endless as far as what you can include on your list. If it’s important to you, put it on there.

What the list is telling you

Once you’ve got your list, there is so much information you can use to start creating a plan.

You already know that:

  • Any potential business needs to provide true flexibility.
  • Financial stability is really important, and you’ve got some information about what stability looks like to you.
  • It’s important that making a change like this make it easier for you to be there for your kids, and you know that you want to decrease the amount of time they spend in daycare.

More specifically, you’d probably want to focus your energy on investigating online business options. Or possibly a service business that can be conducted at non-9-5 hours. And you can explore ways to start a biz as a side-gig at first, so that you can keep your job for now.

You could also explore decreasing your expenses so you could save for a cushion more quickly.

But it goes beyond that.

You could take those same conditions, and put your feelers out for a job that gives you those same things: financial stability and flexibility to be there for your kids.

Because if you’re getting what your heart wants (financial stability and a flexible schedule), maybe it doesn’t matter whether you get it by starting a business or by working for a company.

What’s important is that you get clear on what you want and work toward giving yourself those things.

How about you?

Do you see yourself in the situation above? What conditions would be in your No-Brainer Scenario?

What do you wish the No-Brainer Scenario could help with? I’d love to hear about it.

The No-Brainer Scenario: A Simple Tool for Powerful Clarity is now available (at the launch celebration price!). Know what you want so you can make it happen.

Your Body Knows What You Want

Within the next week or so, I’ll be finished writing my No-Brainer Scenario ebook. It’s about making good decisions with ease.

In order to make good decisions with ease, you have to know what you want. And that’s what the No-Brainer Scenario technique helps with: getting clear on what you want.

I spent quite a few years believing that I didn’t know what I wanted. That I couldn’t and wouldn’t ever know what I wanted. Especially in the realm of finding my Thing. It was incredibly frustrating.

Looking back, I realize there was some part of me that knew all along. I just couldn’t hear it.

The parts of me that knew my true heart’s desires were buried under layers of conforming to others’ expectations and beliefs about how the world works.

It took time to get back in touch with the parts of me that knew what I truly wanted.

I believe some part of you already knows what you want, too.

Not knowing what you want is such a hard place to be. And when you’re in it, it feels like it will never change.

It won’t happen overnight, but here’s a simple way to start to reconnect with the parts that already know what you want:

Listen to your body.

Your body knows because it hasn’t lost connection with the parts of you that know what you want.

It’s so simple to start.

Pick a time and a place. Someplace comfortable and quiet. Away from distractions like phone and email and Twitter.

Sit in a comfortable position and become aware of your breathing.

You don’t need to change it, but by focusing on it, your breathing might slow and become deeper.

Begin to notice the sensations in your body.

Where are they?
What do they feel like?
Are they tied to specific emotions?

Don’t over-think this. Just notice what you feel in your body.

If this is a new practice for you, it might take a while to notice anything specific. Try to be patient and keep noticing.

How do you use this to help you figure out what you want?

Let’s say you’re thinking about taking a class.

After spending a few minutes getting quiet and noticing how your body feels, begin to think about the class you’re considering.

Think about whatever is involved in taking that class.

What do you notice now in your body?

Have the sensations changed? Have new sensations come up?
Where are they? What do they feel like?
Are they comfortable or uncomfortable?

Chances are, if you’re feeling discomfort in your body at the thought of taking that class, it means you don’t want to take it. Or there’s some part of you that doesn’t want to do it.

Conversely, if you feel “positive” physical sensations, it likely confirms your choice to take the class.

An encouraging caveat

If listening to your body is new to you, at first it might feel like it’s not working. You might sit down to listen and not really hear (or feel) much of anything.

Keep at it. As you practice, you’ll notice more and more subtle sensations. Practice regularly for even just a few minutes at a time and it will get easier.


Hey, I’m all about healthy skepticism.

I’ll bet if you look back on past choices and situations, you’ll start to see that your body was trying to tell you about what you wanted. Try to remember how you felt physically, and notice patterns of what you felt in “good” vs. “bad” situations.

About four years ago, long before I’d learned how to listen to my body, I was thinking about switching jobs. On paper it was a great opportunity. But every time I thought about saying yes, I’d feel a wave of blech come over me. It felt like my body wanted to run away but was too heavy to move.

I said yes anyway because it was such a good opportunity (ha!), and it was a huge mistake.

But it’s not that simple!

My guess is, the part that feels complicated is choosing to act on what your body tells you. Because that takes a lot of trust.

Start small. I’m not saying you should pick up and move to Thailand because you felt a twinge in your left pinky toe. You can even start by noticing how your body feels, while still deciding however you normally would. And then observe how it turns out.

Listening to your body can be a tool – almost like a compass – for helping you move toward the things you want. It’s about learning the language of your body to help guide you.

It’s a tool that can be used in tandem with other tools, like the No-Brainer Scenario.

How about you?

What have you noticed about how your body feels when you’re about to do something you want to do? And when you’re about to do something you don’t want to do?

Have you used the practice of listening to your body to help make decisions in the past? I’d love to hear about it!

Want to receive notifications (and a secret discount!) when the ebook is available? Just join the Shmorian Society, and in the meantime, you’ll get my free 30-day eCourse, the Shmorian Project Prescription.

Holiday No-Brainers

No-Brainer Scenario LogoIf you’ve been reading my blog recently, you know I’m working on an ebook about the No-Brainer Scenario.

One of the things I’ve been discovering since I wrote the initial blog post about the technique is all the different ways it can be used.

When I discovered it, I thought it would only work for yes/no decisions: Should I take the job? Should I go to the conference?

But actually, it can be used for situations that don’t even really feel like decisions.

Yesterday I was kind of freaking out a bit about Christmas.

I’m horrible at preparing ahead of time, which doesn’t go well with wanting to give creative, heartfelt gifts. And I tend to feel extra stuckness when it comes to figuring out a present for the Hubs.

I was beginning to approach full-on panic mode, and then I wondered if the No-Brainer Scenario could help.

Attempt #1

What would make it a No-Brainer to buy him a gift, in spite of being unsure of his preferences?

  • Basically, it needs to be easy to find, easy to buy, and it needs to be returnable in case I get it wrong and he doesn’t like it.
  • However, if I were willing to give up on the surprise element, I could ask him to just tell me what he wants.
  • Or, he could give me a list of five things he’d like, and I’ll pick one. That would keep a bit of the surprise in tact.

My frustration is really coming from feeling like I won’t be able to surprise him, and from feeling like I’m already too late to pull off anything worthwhile.

But here’s a whole different way to look at it, if I were willing to let go of all the rules about surprising him and whatever else I have rules about:

We could decide together on a gift for us, and figure out when we want to make it happen.

To be honest, after working through all this, I was still feeling unsatisfied. I mean, of course if I’m buying an item for somebody, I should make sure it could be returned if necessary. And of course I could have the Hubs just tell me what he wants.

But there was still something missing that I couldn’t put my finger on.

Attempt #2

One thing I’ve learned about this technique is that when you don’t know what you’re looking for, Qualities are super useful.

So I realized a better way to ask the question:

What does the Hubs’ No-Brainer gift look like?

I would want the gift for the Hubs to include:

Definitely Fun and Connection and Play (who couldn’t use more Play in their lives?)
Another nice-to-have would be Creativity
Of course, I still want Ease as part of both the gift-giving and gift-experiencing

This led me to all sorts of ideas that may or may not be pull-off-able, but I feel ten times better about my options. And if I’m willing to forgo the surprise element and come up with something together, then these Qualities will help narrow down the options nicely.

An example of what these Qualities bring up for me is a creative class of some kind that we could take part in together.

(Sorry for not being more specific – I can’t be sure he won’t read this post!)

Clarity is always a good thing

Maybe a lot of this seems kind of obvious, but it wasn’t for me.

Until I sat down to think about it, I wasn’t able to see how big a role the surprise factor and the looming deadline were affecting my stress levels about this decision.

By looking for my No-Brainer Scenario, I was able to remember that how I handle situations like this is up to me. And that there are no rules except the ones I impose on myself.

It also helped me feel in my body what it would be like to approach the Hubs’ gift without a bunch of pressure and anxiety. Because lord knows it’s no fun to do one’s Xmas shopping in that state.

I find that once I’m in time-crunch-oh-crap-what’s-the-perfect-gift mode, I kind of lose sight of why I’m buying a gift to begin with, so going back to the Qualities was incredibly helpful.

The biggest insight I got by finding my No-Brainer Scenario for gift-giving is that when the focus moves off of the meaning and gets consumed by rules about how it needs to happen, I start to freak out.

Some other holiday-related No-Brainer Scenarios I’ve been playing with:

What’s my No-Brainer holiday gift budget?

What would make it a No-Brainer to manage all the different family visits that people are expecting? (Hint: this one will probably involve letting people know that they won’t necessarily get to see me before the New Year.)

How about you?

Care to play along with some of the holiday stuff you’ve got going on?

What does your No-Brainer holiday look like?

And hey, just so you know, I totally get the fact that the holidays can be really angsty. My stuff around getting a gift for the Hubs barely scratches the surface of all the other holiday angst I’ve got swirling around.

So I also get that shifting how you do the holidays isn’t like changing what brand of coffee beans you use.

If you want to start shifting it, start slow and small by gathering information. Find your No-Brainer Scenario with no expectation to act on it, and see what happens.

If you want to learn more ways to use the No-Brainer Scenario technique, be sure to join the Shmorian Society to be the first to know when the ebook is available. In the meantime, you’ll get my free 30-day eCourse, the Shmorian Project Prescription. Fall in love with your project again, so you can get it done!

Find the No-Brainer Scenario: Saying No to Distractions

A lot of my clients and friends are in the process of trying to grow a new business.

And sometimes, when we’re in the early stages of growing a business, we get faced with the toughest challenge of all:

Saying no to what we don’t want before we have what we do want.

Patty K., who has an amazing blog with the tagline “personal growth for introverts on a mission,” shared this story with me of how the No-Brainer Scenario helped her to say no to the stuff that wasn’t part of her mission. She agreed to let me share it with all of you.

I first had the idea that I wanted to speak and write about 17 years ago (and I got serious about it about 5 years ago), but I was stuck on “what will I speak about/write about?” So many options. I couldn’t decide. Major stuckness.

Finally, after spending a weekend re-categorizing and tagging everything I’d written over the past few months, I spotted the theme of shyness/introversion/social anxiety and decided to focus on that.

So the “what should I write and speak about?” question has been answered (for the most part). And more than that. It really feels like my “Mission from God.” Solid. Purposeful. Other-oriented.

However, it didn’t quite settle the “what do I do in my business?” question. Because I see so many other things where it would be *easier* to make money. (Or at least that’s what I tell myself.) IT-related things I can do in my sleep – like registering domains, setting up web hosting and WordPress.

For it to be a No-Brainer for me to act on one of these “other” [technology-related business] ideas…what would need to happen?

My answer (as of Thursday night) was:

1. It would have to just fall into my lap. An opportunity to make some money from one of these things without me having to invest *any* effort into marketing it.
2. It would have to be a substantial amount of money vs. effort.

Here’s where it gets interesting…

Last night Joe and I were talking to someone who is just starting a business. One of his next steps was to find someone who could set up a website for him. He also mentioned they intended to spend significant money to get the business started. Joe said, “Sounds like all you need is WordPress.”

He replied, “Yeah, that sounds right.”

I stayed silent. I was neither tempted nor interested. Evidently, what I thought was a No-Brainer *wasn’t*.

Big insight: I’ve been letting the part of me that believes that I can’t make money from pursuing my mission distract me. I’m evaluating business opportunities that don’t really engage me purely for the sake of money. Which I am not desperate for.

I have some breathing space. And as woo woo as it might sound, I really feel like I’ve been tapped on the shoulder. Like I have a calling.

So, after that bit of information, I decided to fully commit to my current track until the end of the year. I’ll re-evaluate in January.

So my NEW No-Brainer Scenario (as of this morning):

Whatever “new thing” comes up has to feel like it’s *more* on purpose/on mission than what I’m working on right now. (Duh!)

At this moment in time, I have absolute faith that if I stay focused on my mission, I will find a way to make money at it.

I’m putting myself out there and staying open to opportunities. Now I feel like I have a measure to weigh those opportunities against.

And THAT feels solid and oh-so helpful.

This story makes me jump-up-and-down excited for Patty. Don’t forget to say hi to her over on her blog!

Let’s do a little analysis, shall we?

Patty was aware that any time she spent on IT-related opportunities would mean time away from developing her speaking business, so she found the No-Brainer Scenario for those “side-gig” opportunities.

In other words, she got clear on what she would need feel good about saying yes to something that wasn’t her main Thing.

By getting clear about what she would need, she was able to recognize the opportunity when it arose.

As it turned out, the opportunity did arise, she noticed it, and she also realized it wasn’t what she wanted.

Defining her No-Brainer Scenario for what she thought she wanted led her to a major epiphany about the ways she was avoiding committing to her main Thing – her speaking business. And allowed her to find a new No-Brainer Scenario to help keep her on track.

How about you?

Can you relate to the “grass is greener” feeling of side-gigs that appear “easier” but really just distract you from what you truly want to do? I’d love to hear about it in the comments. (I know I can relate. Confession: I still read the job boards for database work occasionally more often than I’d like to admit.)

And if you’d like to dig into using the No-Brainer Scenario to help you stay focused on the work you truly want to do, check out my No-Brainer Scenario Kit.

Find the No-Brainer Scenario: Where Should We Live?

In honor of my upcoming class about decision-making, I’m sharing some posts where I do real-life demos showing the No-Brainer Scenario in action…here’s the third post in the series. The class is geared toward business decisions, but this one is more of a life decision.

Joanna writes in with a dilemma about where to live:

I’m originally from the West Coast, but I moved to New York for college seven years ago. I didn’t like New York, but I met my partner here, and she’s been the best thing that’s ever come into my life. We tried moving out west a couple years ago, but my partner couldn’t take being away from her family. We did lots of talking, and I decided I’d move back to New York, because being with her was the most important thing for me.

I’ve been back in New York for two years now, and this place just isn’t good for my mental health. I’d like to move to the Pacific Northwest (specifically Portland), but I’m not sure my partner can do it. She wants to try, because she’s also getting tired of the city, and none of the possible living locations we’ve looked at in the Northeast really fit our needs and wants. But the prospect of not getting to see her family every week or two is scary for her.

When we add to that worries about how long it might take us both to find jobs, we both start feeling overwhelmed and hopeless. We’ve actually discussed the possibility of us breaking up, which is the last thing either of us would want.

This is so, so hard. But, there’s lots to work with here, so let’s see what kind of hope we can bring to the situation.

First things first

First off, I want to encourage both of you to make sure you’re grounded whenever you’re working on this issue, whether together or separately. Of course it’s easy to get overwhelmed with all the different variables of making a move like this. Plus the complexity is doubled (at least) by virtue of the fact that you’re trying to meet two sets of needs.

Two different decisions

Part of why this issue feels unmanageable is that there are really two different decisions you need to make.

One decisions is where to live.

The other is how to make the move.

Both of them are big and important, so definitely take your time exploring and working on finding your No-Brainer Scenario for them.

Where to live?

When you’re dealing with an open-ended decision like finding what city you want to move to, it can be helpful to imagine your No-Brainer Location in the abstract.

What features do you want it to have? What activities do you need access to? What’s important to you in terms of how it looks/feels/sounds/smells?

Spend as much time as necessary getting clear on what you’re aiming for in a geographic location.

That list – your No-Brainer Location list – will serve as a checklist when you consider a specific location.

With that clarity, it might be easier to explore other Northeast locations that would fit your ideal (or close to it), which would also make it easier for your partner to visit family more often.

How do we move there?

Understandably, you’ve got some logistical concerns around finding work, and affording visits home.

For this decision, ask yourself:

What would make it a No-Brainer to pack up and move to a new location?

Here’s where you want to explore the concerns you have. But be sure to stay grounded while doing so.

The No-Brainer Scenario here might look something like:

  • We will have $x in savings as a cushion.
  • At least one of us will already have a job in the new city.
  • We’ll find a house-sitting job so that we don’t have to pay rent at first.

The idea is to get creative and make sure your needs are met, so that when you do move, you’re as comfortable with the process as possible.

Other things to explore

It sounds like you two have already agreed that you might give Portland a try. Since your partner is worried about not being able to visit family, I think it would be worth some time exploring the qualities she experiences by being with her family.

Of course there’s no true substitute, but perhaps by understanding what the qualities are, the two of you together could find other ways to bring those qualities to Portland (or wherever you decide to move). Just maybe that would mean that a couple visits a year (rather than a few visits a month) would be enough, at least until you’re bringing in more money.

The most important things to remember

Here’s what I want to leave you with.

  • This is a big decision, so be kind to yourselves and don’t rush.
  • When you start to feel overwhelmed, come back to your breathing and your bodies. Take a break and do something else for a while.
  • If things start to feel strained, remember that the two of you want to be together, and you’re willing to put in the effort to make it work (that’s huge!). Find ways to remember that you’re on the same team.
  • Get clear first, then be open to possibilities. You could even turn your No-Brainer Scenario into a Very Personal Ad for your move.

How about you?

Can you relate? What decisions are you working on and what makes them tricky for you? Let’s talk about it in the comments.

And if you’d like to have more of the ease and calm that come from being able to make clear decisions, check out my August 12 teleclass. Early bird discount ends tonight!

Find the No-Brainer Scenario: The “Good Enough” Opportunity

In honor of my upcoming class about decision-making, I’m sharing some posts where I do real-life demos showing the No-Brainer Scenario in action…here’s the second post in the series.

Here’s an especially tricky decision someone emailed me about recently:

I’m trying to decide whether or not I should create a proposal to write for this company. They’re bigger than the kind of client I’m happiest working with. They seem perfectly nice, and it’s not like I hate writing for companies. But it’s just not the ultimate experience I want to have.

So do I turn them down before my business is booked up with my new target audience? Or take them on and grit my teeth because they’re, in a way, funding my transition?

When do you say, “Sure, as long as I’m not totally annoyed all the time, it’s good enough?” And when do you say, “NO! I want to be delighted ALL THE TIME!”

What makes this situation tricky is that we’re talking about someone asking us for a dance when our dance card isn’t full.

Except this person doesn’t make us swoon. And what if that certain someone who does make us swoon can’t dance with us because we agreed to dance with the un-swoon-worthy guy or gal?

It’s really easy to spin off into all the possibilities, so before we dig in, here’s what you need to do:

Ground and center yourself.

If you have a way that you usually do that, do it now. Don’t know what I mean by that? It simply means to reconnect with your body and let go of all the what-ifs and yeah-buts and whatever else makes you feel swirly about this decision.

If nothing else, spend a few minutes focusing on your breathing.

Ahhh…that’s better.

The most important thing

Same as last time, the most important question to answer is:

What would make it a No-Brainer to write for this company?

Considerations and questions

The No-Brainer Scenario process is the same for most (if not all) decisions, but some of the considerations will vary depending on the situation.

Here’s what I would consider and ask myself in the process of defining the No-Brainer Scenario for this kind of decision:

Will saying yes to this project help me shift my target market?

That’s what you really, really want, right?

It’s easy to see this project as something that will “fund your transition” but I’m going to challenge that.

My guess is that you need to get the word out that your target market has shifted. Which means doing stuff like sending emails to your network and updating your website to reflect who you want to work with.

If this non-ideal project will pay you and still allow you to do those things, then yes, it’s funding your transition.

But if saying yes to this project will delay your ability to get the word out, you’re actually delaying the transition. You’ll pay your bills in the short-term, but after this project is over, you’ll still be in the same boat you’re in now.

Is there something you could put in the proposal that would make writing for this larger company feel more like you were writing for your ideal client?

This is part of exploring whether it’s possible to turn a Meh opportunity into a great one.

In order for this to be a No-Brainer, would you need to charge more?

If you write the proposal using your normal pricing, will you wind up resenting the work because it’s a project you’re not in love with? Resenting the project is definitely not a recipe for doing your best work.

A hypothetical No-Brainer Scenario

As always, the specific items in the No-Brainer Scenario will depend on what’s important to you, but maybe it would look something like this:

  • The project fee needs to be $x (20% more than what I’d charge an ideal client)
  • I need to have only one person I’m dealing with (I don’t want to report to a committee)
  • The deadline needs to be longer than what I’d normally commit to, so that I have time to update my website during this project.

Now you’ve got your “first draft” of a No-Brainer Scenario, which you’ll use to write the proposal (or not).

Check in with yourself

Imagine having the No-Brainer version of your proposal accepted. Would it feel like a No-Brainer to say yes to this project? If not, what remaining concerns need to be addressed?

Sometimes the process of defining your No-Brainer Scenario will show you that there is no set of conditions that would make this project feel like a No-Brainer.

This is valuable information! Because it tells you that you really don’t want to work with them, and you can focus your energy on finding your ideal clients.

Once you’ve found your No-Brainer Scenario

At this point, you can either use your No-Brainer Scenario to create your proposal, or you can move on.

If you submit your No-Brainer proposal, and they say no, you’ll have your answer. The project as you needed it to be doesn’t exist. Focus instead on spreading the word about who your ideal clients are, so they can find you.

But if you submit your No-Brainer proposal and they say yes? You just went from a so-so project to one that’s a…No-Brainer!

How about you?

Can you relate? What decisions are you working on and what makes them tricky for you? Let’s talk about it in the comments.

And if you’d like to dig a little deeper into this decision-making process, check out my August 12 teleclass. Early bird discount ends tomorrow night!

Find the No-Brainer Scenario: Should I Move…Again?

With decision-making on the brain, I thought I’d do a little series of posts showing the No-Brainer Scenario in action…

Recently someone sent me an email about a decision they were trying to make:

Within the last couple of months, I moved into a new office. As it turns out, I’m not sure this new place is a very good fit for me. It’s hard for me to get my work done here. But I also don’t want to move again so soon – moving is expensive! How do I decide?

What a bummer. All that work looking for a new office, making sure you picked a place that will support you by being a productive environment. Only to find you might have to start the process all over again.

It makes perfect sense to feel stuck on this decision.

What we tend to consider

When we’re in this kind of situation, where we’ve just chosen something that isn’t working out, it’s really easy to focus on sunk costs.

I spent a lot of money on a moving truck and movers.
I paid to have that one wall added so I could have a waiting room.
I spent hours searching for this place. I don’t want to start looking again!

Sunk costs are the money, time and energy we put toward something that can’t ever be recouped. Whether you stay or go, the investments are gone, so it’s not useful information for this decision.

Completely normal to focus on them, but not helpful. You may as well just rub some salt in that wound, instead.

A more helpful place to focus our attention

This particular decision comes down to productivity in your business. And giving yourself what you need to be successful. That’s big, important stuff.

A more helpful way to look at this decision would be to consider:

What is it costing me to spend my work days in an environment that doesn’t support me?
How much revenue am I losing by not finishing my work as efficiently as I could be?
What is it doing to my mental health to be frustrated at work most of the time?

It’s important to focus on these questions because the decision is really about one thing:

The cost of staying vs. the cost of moving.

What makes it tricky, though, is that it feels more expensive to move because there are direct costs involved (hiring movers, etc.). The costs of staying feel more indirect (lost revenue, recovery time, etc.), so it’s easy to disregard them.

What’s your No-Brainer Scenario?

I don’t have all the details, but let’s assume your current office situation can’t be improved without a lot of headaches. (Otherwise, you would have taken care of it already, right?)

You want to have a productive office space, and yet moving again so soon seems crazy. And comes with its own set of headaches.

Yet focusing on those potential headaches is the very thing that’s keeping you stuck.

You already know why you don’t want to move. Now let’s flip that on its head and figure out what would make moving a No-Brainer.

Start by asking yourself:

What would make it a No-Brainer to move?

Here’s a hypothetical No-Brainer Scenario for this situation:

  • The new place needs to be within 15 minutes’ drive of the old place.
  • The rent needs to be the same or less than what I pay now.
  • The new landlord needs to be willing for me to pay the deposit in two installments.
  • The office needs to have plenty of windows.

That list will vary, of course, depending on what your concerns are. Anything can go on the list as long as the condition helps make saying yes to moving easier.

Check in with yourself

When you think you’ve listed all the conditions you need for the decision to be an easy yes, stop and check in with yourself.

Envision moving with all your No-Brainer Conditions in tact. Imagine finding the right place, at the right price, etc.

How do you feel?

If you can say, “Yes, this would make it a No-Brainer to go ahead and move,” yay! You’ve found your No-Brainer Scenario.

If you still feel stuck, ask yourself, “What’s this remaining sense of concern about? What am I afraid will happen?”

Listen to the answers without judging them.

Maybe you’re worried about the amount of time you’ll spend looking for a new space. If so, you can add a condition that says you’ll spend no more than 4 hours per week looking at new offices.

Whatever the concern is, you can turn it around and add it to your No-Brainer Scenario.

Once you’ve found your No-Brainer Scenario

Once you’ve addressed all your concerns, and found all the conditions that would make moving a No-Brainer, make sure you have them written down. And keep that list handy!

The list will serve as your guide for what office spaces to consider. And which places to skip. And it will help you know what you need to discuss with the landlord.

Most importantly…

You already know that you need to move, sooner or later. What you’ve figured out is what it would take to make moving sooner something you can feel good about.

You’ve gotten unstuck and made a decision. How cool is that?

How about you?

What decisions are you working on? What has you stuck? Let’s talk about it in the comments.

And if you’d like some hands-on help for your business decisions, be sure to check out my upcoming class. The early bird discount ends this week!

What Makes Decision-Making So Damn Hard?

Decision-making has been on my mind a lot lately. (Go figure…that’s what happens when I’m getting ready to teach a class on a topic – I roll the topic around in my mind and practically obsess on it.)

For almost my whole life I thought of myself as someone who could not make a decision.

I avoided them whenever I could. And if I couldn’t avoid one, my choice almost always felt more like I was closing my eyes and throwing a dart to see which option it hit. As though I was going someplace else and just choosing already, so I didn’t have to think about it anymore.

I felt ashamed of my indecisiveness. I suppose because somewhere along the way I picked up that indecisiveness was a female thing. Fucking sexist stereotypes.

Eventually I reached a point of mostly accepting that it’s just the way I was. Over the past couple of years, though, it started to shift without me even realizing it.

Ahhh, hindsight

Looking back, there were three big things (all inter-related) that made decision-making nearly impossible for me.

  1. I was looking outside myself for the answers.
  2. That’s exactly how I wound up in Houston making cold calls from a dive shop.

    I was more concerned about what the surrounding circumstances looked like than what I really wanted.

    It’s hard to explain, but when we’re presented with an opportunity, it’s as though we go outside ourselves to consider it, when what we should be doing is staying where we are and bringing the opportunity toward ourselves, to see how it feels.

    When we go outside ourselves, we give away our power to make the choices that are best for us.

    The Houston job was the only offer on the table. And it had been three whole months since I’d gotten out of school. (Yes, those were sarcastic italics.)

    But nobody looked me in the eye and asked, “Victoria, is this the offer you’ve been waiting for? If not, what would it look like if you allowed yourself to wait a little longer?”

  3. I didn’t know how to connect with what I wanted, and I didn’t trust that some part of me already knew.
  4. Whenever I had to decide something, I got advice from a million different places. And don’t get me started on all the Pros and Cons lists I made.

    I wasn’t able to stop, look within and go with what my gut was saying. After so many years of not listening, my gut had gotten tired of trying to yell over the din of advice from other people.

  5. I saw “bad decisions” as failures.
  6. No matter what we’re deciding, we don’t control the outcome. But as a perfectionist, the outcome is where I tend to focus. If the outcome wasn’t what I wanted, I’d failed.

    There’s no room for learning and growth that way.

    And with avoiding failure as a driving force, it’s far too easy to play it safe and miss really good opportunities.

A place to start

Decision-making is a skill you can learn, and just like with other learned skills, you get better with practice.

That’s why I created my upcoming class about the No-Brainer Scenario.

The technique helps you see what you want without limiting yourself to the circumstances at hand.

It’s the perfect way to start a practice of making decisions from within. The technique even has built-in ways to know when you’ve found what you really want. And it will help you know why you’re choosing the way you are. No more deciding in the dark.

If you’re ready to start exercising your decision-making muscles, check out the class deets here.

Four No-Brainer Questions (and the Unveiling)

Update (1/22/2011): If you like what you read here and want to see more ways to apply this technique for making decisions and getting unstuck, check out the ebook!

Last week I held my first free teleclass, about the No-Brainer Scenario technique. I’m sure some of you were there or have since listened to the recording.

I had a blast in spite of my nervousness.

One of the things I shared was how to use the technique when you’re not considering a specific opportunity or decision.

I’ve been using this process for myself a lot lately, especially in terms of what I want this year to look like.

It’s a big question, because it’s up to me, and is limited only by where I decide to invest my energy. For me, that’s a recipe for instant stuckness and overwhelm.

So I used the technique to help me narrow down all the different directions I could go, to let the ones I really care about bubble up to the top.

Here are the questions I asked myself to help get a vision for 2010:

The questions – with my own answers

What qualities would help you get that No-Brainer, “Hell yeah!” feeling about 2010?


Of those qualities, which ones can your business help you with? For each of them, describe how your business might help bring more of those qualities into your life.

Connection – reach more people through my blog and classes

Creativity – develop new ways to help my Right People see that it really is possible to have work that they love; incorporate other types of creative activities such as movement and art into my teaching

Fun – this one’s tough…I guess my business could help me have more fun by helping me reshape my beliefs about work – that it doesn’t have to be unpleasant and overly challenging.

Stability – find ways to make the income from my business more steady

Safety – balance periods of growth with periods of rest (which is really more about how I conduct and interact with my business)

Sovereignty – Okay, I’m going to be totally honest and say that I’m still pondering this. I’m not sure how my business will support this. My business, if nothing else, will certainly offer me lots of opportunities to practice exercising my sovereignty.

For the things you described above, what are some ideas for projects, activities or practices that you could explore to accomplish those things?

Reaching more people – continue hanging out on Twitter; increase blog post frequency; offer more group classes

Developing steady income – create courses and products that can be offered regularly and more frequently

Balancing growth with rest – practice planning ahead and building rest into the project plan so that it’s more sustainable (I’ve been seeing lately that if I don’t replenish after a period of growth, I’m pretty useless)

Practicing sovereignty – practice tuning in to my own “inner knowing” and getting clear on that before asking others for their opinions (this might mean scheduling time in my project plans for getting quiet)

There will be some overlap as far as what qualities will increase with which projects. Are there any projects that give you more of the qualities than others?

I see more overlap than I expected. When I look at my list, I can see that developing group classes and increasing how often I post on my blog will help me with almost all of the qualities I’m looking for this year.

See what just happened?

I can see that group classes and blogging are important pieces of my business to focus on this year, because they’ll bring me the qualities I want.

Granted, there’s more work to be done with these questions, but this did not take me very long once I sat down to think about it. If you’re not used to listening to your own heart to find out what you want, it might take a little longer. It gets easier with practice.

By using the qualities I want to help me find projects to focus on, I completely avoided the “blank page” syndrome of not knowing how to begin planning my year.

Plus, by getting clear on my desired qualities, I have information I can apply to my life in general, not just my business. It allows me to align my business with my life, and not the other way around.

Some other thoughts

As you can imagine, you can apply this process to lots of things…not just a year. It could be a different time frame, or you could gear it toward relationships or a career change. The process is still the same – you’re looking for the set of qualities that give you a light, expansive, “hell yeah!” feeling about whatever you’re considering.

The answers aren’t set in concrete. They can change as your needs and desires change.

And, of course, this is just the beginning of the process. But by approaching what you want from the perspective of the qualities you want and need, you can choose projects that have those qualities.

What I just showed you – this process of going from qualities to specific ideas – is exactly the kind of work we’ll be doing in my new course. We’ll spend ten months together helping you to get clear and create the structures your business needs in order to be able to support you, from vision to plan to implementation.

The course starts February 18, and there are only ten spots so that I can provide plenty of individual attention. (Yep, I’m offering an early bird price, and it’s available until I go to bed on February 11.)

You can get all the details here.

How about you?

What qualities are you wanting more of this year? How can your business (or whatever your focus is) help support you in increasing those qualities?

I’d love to hear about it in the comments!

Update (1/22/2011): If you like what you read here and want to see more ways to apply this technique for making decisions and getting unstuck, check out the ebook!

Clarity, Sovereignty and the No-Brainer Scenario

Waaay back at the beginning of September, I wrote about the No-Brainer Scenario.

It was one of those posts that I thought might be helpful for people. I wasn’t sure but I posted it anyway.

It has since turned out to be the most popular post on my blog, ever. By a lot. Which just shows that sometimes we know something so well that it doesn’t seem like it’s even a thing. A thing that – whoa! – can help lots of people.

After doing a call about it for Havi‘s Kitchen Table group in November, I began to see that finding the No-Brainer Scenario for something is a great way to find clarity.

And that finding clarity within yourself is a step toward sovereignty – that quality of being able to be fully You despite what’s happening around you and what others expect of you. (You can get a recording of the ever-so-wise Hiro discussing the concept here. And Havi has talked about it here.)

Once you are clear within yourself about what you want and what you don’t want, you can go about enforcing it.

But clarity isn’t just about sovereignty. It’s also a foundational step toward creation. I began to see the No-Brainer Scenario as a creation tool, because how can you create what you want to create before you know what you want?

Meanwhile, back at the ranch…

A few weeks ago, I started thinking about what I wanted this year to look like for my baby biz and for me. And I also started pondering what I want to share with my people, what I’m excited to teach right now.

My background in software development means I have a lot of experience in creating plans for projects. I’ve also done lots of geeky stuff with spreadsheets and budgets and forecasts.

I can teach people how to do those things. But in a lighter, simpler way that won’t cause eyes to glaze over.

I have a knack for helping people get clear on whatever is muddy. And for helping people put some structure around and beneath the ideas they have percolating in their heads. For helping them take those big, overwhelming projects and create plans that they can follow successfully.

So I’ve been pouring my love, energy and time into developing a small-group program to help you get clear on your vision for 2010 (specifically, what you want to happen in your business), and to teach you how to develop structured, grounded-in-reality plans to bring your vision to life.

What does this have to do with the No-Brainer Scenario?

The course I’m putting together starts by helping you get clear on what you want to accomplish this year, and we’ll be using the No-Brainer Scenario technique as a way to do that.

No-Brainer Scenario Logo

I’m still finalizing the course details (it’s currently scheduled to start on 2/11), but in the meantime, I’m holding a free call about using the No-Brainer Scenario to find clarity. We’ll talk about how you can use it when you don’t know whether to say yes or no to particular decisions, and how to use it when you’re just not sure what you want.

There will be plenty of time for questions, so we can even work on finding No-Brainer Scenarios for your real-life situations.

When: Tuesday, January 26, 12pm – 1pm Pacific time
Where: By phone (you can wear your jammies if you want!)
Cost: Nothing but long-distance charges to dial in

Can’t make the call? I’ll send you the link to the recording once it’s available.

You can sign up for the call here.

(That new brainy logo up there? It was designed by the amazing Eileen Corrigan Valazza. I am ridiculously excited about it. Thanks, Eileen!!)