How to get a full-body YES when making a big life decision

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I pulled out a black-and-white marble notebook and drew a big line down the center of a page.  

 

It was Spring of 1992 and I was a Senior in High School. My mom, step-dad and my best friend Helen were with me celebrating at Fiorentino’s, the best Italian restaurant (RIP) in all of Brooklyn.

 

We had just finished off a couple of orders of “spiedini alla romana,” the deep-fried mozzarella with anchovy sauce that the restaurant was famous for and that I still dream about to this day.  

 

And now it was time to get down to some serious business before our main dishes arrived. Deciding which college I would go to the following year. 

 

So we did what most people do when faced with an enormous, once-in-a-lifetime decision: a pros and cons list! 

 

What a concise and curious way of making a huge life decision, don't you think?

  • We challenge ourselves to get really, really cerebral and serious about a decision.

  • We write down a bunch of items in each column in a factual, dissociated way.

  • We diligently count up the number on each side. 

  • We make a decision based on the column that has the highest score.

  • We stick to that decision OR scrap it all and decide what we really want to do. 

  • And we try to complete the task all before the check arrives!


Even though I’m pretty certain I made the right move when it came to college, as a coach I’ve learned that pros and cons lists are terribly flawed because they often neglect the physical and emotional components of decision making.


A better way to “experience” a decision is to travel into the future and try it on for size, looking for clues to what its impact may be from an emotional, physical and intellectual perspective.


When it comes to making full-body decisions I’ve seen my clients have huge revelations with the “sit and scan” technique we do together. 

 

So, what’s the “sit and scan” technique, how does it blow pros and cons lists out of the water, and how can you learn the steps to make full-body YES decisions all on your own?

Read on to find out.


Imagine that each chair here represents a different life choice. Have a seat and see what comes up.

Imagine that each chair here represents a different life choice. Have a seat and see what comes up.

What’s the “sit and scan” technique?

Instead of simply using your rational mind to guide your choices, the “sit and scan” technique lets you experience your emotional, mental and physical impressions/reactions to a future scenario. 


How does it work?

The technique uses visualization to “travel through time” while actually sitting still. By projecting yourself into the future you can scan your body for what your feeling, saying and doing at two distinct moments in time. 

  1. The moment right after you’ve made a decision.

  2. Six months after making the decision. 


When the best moment to use this technique?

When you have 2 distinct choices that you’re struggling between. For example:

  • Whether to accept a job with a prestigious brand with questionable management or go to the less illustrious tech company whose product you’re less passionate about. 

  • Whether to switch companies and accept a position that has more responsibility and a higher pay while leaving a company that you’ve known for years. 

  • Whether to take an ambitious promotion internally and jeopardize the work/life balance you’ve worked years to achieve. 

  • Whether to leave a profession that makes you miserable but that you’ve worked decades to build, or to launch out on your own and start your own company. 

  • Whether to accept a freelance gig with a former employer that you have a unhealthy relationship with, or say no and focused on the internal work you’re doing to uncover a new professional path. 

What materials do I need?

  • Two equally comfortable chairs in a quiet space. 

  • A notebook or voice recorder.

  • A good hour of time ahead of you. 

  • A friend or coach who stands nothing to gain from the outcome of your decision. 

What are the different steps?

Step 1:

Imagine that one chair represents Option A and the other Option B. 


Step 2:

Go sit in Chair A.

Close your eyes and visualize everything that is happening from the point of view of having just chosen that option. 

You’ve made the decision. Now answer the following questions: 

  • How does your body feel?

  • What is your breathing like?

  • Do you sense any tension anywhere in your body? 

  • If so, where? 

  • If not, what are you feeling?

  • What do you see?

  • What do you hear?

  • Who are you with?

  • What are you thinking right now?

  • What are your biggest concerns?

  • How has your decision affected your entourage?

  • What changes have taken place?

  • What changes will take place?

  • What excites you?

  • What scares you?

  • If you could improve anything about your current situation, what would that be?



Step 3: 

Stay in the same chair. But this time project yourself 6 months into the future. You made the decision to go with Option A six months ago. Now answer the following questions:

  • How do you feel right now?

  • What’s going on in your body?

  • What are you saying to yourself?

  • How do you feel about what’s happened over the last six months?

  • What’s changed in your life?

  • What’s remained the same?

  • How has your entourage been impacted by your decision?

  • What surprised you about the way things have unfolded?

  • What have you learned about yourself?

  • What do you wish had happened differently?

  • If you could improve anything about your current situation, what would that be?

Step 4: 

Go sit in Chair B.

Close your eyes and visualize everything that is happening from the point of view of having just chosen that option. 

You’ve made the decision. Now answer the following questions: 

  • How does your body feel?

  • What is your breathing like?

  • Do you sense any tension anywhere in your body? 

  • If so, where? 

  • If not, what are you feeling?

  • What do you see?

  • What do you hear?

  • Who are you with?

  • What are you thinking right now?

  • What are your biggest concerns?

  • How has your decision affected your entourage?

  • What changes have taken place?

  • What changes will take place?

  • What excites you?

  • What scares you?

  • If you could improve anything about your current situation, what would that be?



Step 5:

Stay in the same chair. But this time project yourself 6 months into the future. You made the decision to go with Option A six months ago. Now answer the following questions:

  • How do you feel right now?

  • What’s going on in your body?

  • What are you saying to yourself?

  • How do you feel about what’s happened over the last six months?

  • What’s changed in your life?

  • What’s remained the same?

  • How has your entourage been impacted by your decision?

  • What surprised you about the way things have unfolded?

  • What have you learned about yourself?

  • What do you wish had happened differently?

  • If you could improve anything about your current situation, what would that be?


Now what?

Only you can tell at this point which option, if any, feels right! You never know, there may be a third, fourth, or fifth option to consider if neither of the scenarios you’ve explored give you a full-body YES!