There’s a reason you probably haven’t heard of before that’s preventing you from taking the leap toward achieving your goals.
Can you pinpoint the exact reason you haven’t gotten started yet? If not, this article is going to be extremely useful for you.
You’re not hesitating because because you’re nervous or confused. You may be experiencing those feelings, but that isn’t what’s preventing you from taking the leap.
You haven’t taken the leap because your personal criteria for psychological safety have not been met. Psychological safety is a mechanism in our psyche that helps us determine the right choice or course of action. It’s a potent safety filter that has already evaluated the situation you’re in now before you’ve consciously thought about it.
The Real Reason You Haven’t Made the Leap (and What To Do About It)
Just as a physical threat can harm our physical safety, a stressor or threat that poses emotional stress can prevent us from feeling capable of putting in the work we need to. This is a primitive response that we have no control over.
When your criteria aren’t met, you won’t make progress. Instead, you’ll spend your time reacting to threats or stressors that are present, seeking a solution that probably isn’t going to come.
Why? Because our personality traits go hand in hand with our criteria for feeling psychologically and emotionally safe. Because your personality is not likely to change entirely, your criteria for safety likely will not either.
Suffice to say, when something isn’t right, and that feeling is preventing you from taking the leap towards greatness, your criteria for psychological safety are not being met.
Here are three ways to uncover and strategize around your own criteria for psychological safety:
1. Determine all of the criteria you need to feel safe in life
Ask yourself the following question: “What do I need to feel safe in life?”
Write down your answers or brainstorm. These answers could include any of the following: purpose or meaning, physical safety, opportunities to be creative, and opportunities to grow. These are examples, and yours will be much different than mine. Be specific and target specific areas of your life. If you need to be financially secure to feel safe, write it down. If you need to feel healthy, it should be on the list.
By the time you’re done, you’ll likely have between 8-10 criteria you feel you need. You can leave the list ‘as is’ or take it a step further and pick out 4-5 from the list. Those are your essential criteria that you need in order to feel safe in life. Remember them, because they are going to influence whether you choose to take a leap in the future.
2. Determine all of the criteria you need to make a decision
You’ve figured out your criteria for feeling safe in life. Now, ask yourself what it takes for you to feel safe when making a decision.
The answer to this question lies in your past decisions. Think back to your last big purchase or decision that, in some way, changed your life. Put yourself in the shoes of the person who hadn’t yet made that choice or purchase.
When you thought about buying or doing that thing, what did it represent? How many of your essential criteria were met with that choice? Chances are that at least 3-4 of them make the list. You wouldn’t have made the choice otherwise.
Alternatively, consider the ‘leap’ that you’re struggling to take. Do the same exercise. If you’re hesitating, which of your essential criteria are not being met by the picture you have in your head?
That is where the resistance is coming from.
3. Consider how you can adjust your goal to align it with your personal criteria
You’ve got a dream in mind. You are hesitating to take action and are still not sure if this is the reason behind your inaction. This third step will help you find out.
Take a moment to imagine what taking the ‘leap’ would look like if your top 4-5 psychological safety criteria were all met. Whatever is most important to you is being met as you strive to achieve your goal. How would your journey be different than the one you’re picturing in your head? What would the next 2-3 months of daily work look like as you worked toward the outcome?
In all likelihood, the ‘leap’ you are imagining seems more like a step. It’s smaller because your personal boundaries are not being challenged by the thought of your goal. If nothing else, you should more confident that getting started is entirely possible.
When your criteria are all met, you are freed up to be more creative, purposeful and productive as you work towards your goal.
Understanding your unique psychological safety can be a tool for your toolbox as you make decisions. The more you know about yourself, the better you’ll be able to address the feelings of unease and stress that come on when you begin contemplating taking the ‘leaps’ that come in life.
Like most things in the realm of personal development, it’s a personal journey. It starts with you doing the work to uncover what you are and how you thrive. The sooner you find those answers, the more capable you will be of putting in the work to achieve your goals.