How Not Making a Choice Can Fuel Inertia

Written by Sandra Ford Walston, The Courage Expert

Jill grew up with parents preaching, “Never follow the crowd just because that’s the popular thing to do.” Jill was solving jigsaw puzzles at the age of two (“too bright”), she was a tomboy (“too boyish”) and a Jew living in the “wrong neighborhood” (“too Yankee”). The eldest of four children, her two brothers relentlessly teased her, and she confesses she never dated in high school.making good choices to combat inertia

Like many young women, Jill had a “when I grow up” scenario. “After graduating from high school I will go directly to college, graduate at twenty-one, marry two weeks later, start my first engineering job, have children, work for the same company, receive appropriate raises, retire at sixty-five, and then die.” One of only six women in her graduating class, Jill thought she was on her way to career advancement and life fulfillment. Nevertheless, her agenda ran headlong into reality. Her first job lasted only five years. Extensive treatments for infertility yielded no results; then, she divorced after eighteen years of marriage.

With her mythology of success obliterated, Jill found herself stuck in the paralysis of inertia.

At age thirty-nine, Jill had forgotten that life was full of possibilities, and she was unclear about what was important to her. Stephen Covey’s book, First Things First, inspired her to stop and look at her thoughts instead of allowing them free reign to reinforce inertia through mental paralysis. Seeking new and clear intentions in her life, Jill realized that she had the courage to start her own business. The voices of her depression-era parents had imprinted the belief that a secure and stable job was the best. Through the therapy process, Jill found the voice of her own heart and spirit, and she understands what it means to give herself permission to claim her courage: “Live your life being true to yourself and making choices that are right for you.”

For over eight years, Jill has been a successful entrepreneur. Recognizing the value of conscious choice prompted her to write, “I’ve learned that not making a choice is in fact making a choice not to change.” In The Seat of the Soul Gary Zukav put it another way, “The choice not to choose is the choice to remain unconscious.” In other words, inertia is an obstacle that anyone can choose to overcome. Now Jill chooses what seems right for her personal journey rather than letting someone else’s agenda sidetrack her vision. Giving herself permission to claim the power of her courage, Jill stepped out of inertia and conquered the obstacles to her life’s entrepreneurial adventure. Jill has learned that courage is acquired by conscious design and that you strengthen it, step by step, choice by choice. The choices you make each day in your life have repercussions in how you advance your career.

As Jill learned, stopping to reflect in silence pulls us away from the busyness of our culture, the tendency to value only complicated projects instead of life’s simple truths.

Do you understand simplicity?

The person who lives from the heart understands simplicity. This is the gift of reflection. Learning to balance life between action-oriented steps and some type of meditative discipline, you move out of counterproductive habitual patterns (obstacles) and begin to exert your “courageous will.” Applying your will, you begin to direct your own destiny just as Jill did. Career adjustments do not come with a set of instructions. The only way to negotiate your unique set of obstacles is to accept the responsibility to act with determination and resolve.

Photo:Image courtesy of kraifreedom /

Sandra Ford Walston is known as The Courage Expert and innovator of StuckThinking™. Featured on the speaker circuit as witty, provocative, concrete and insightful, she has sparked positive change in the lives of thousands of leaders each year. She found that there is a direct correlation between your success quotient and your courage quotient.

She is the internationally published author of bestseller COURAGE The Heart and Spirit of Every Woman, the follow-up book The COURAGE Difference at Work: A Unique Success Guide for Women (formerlySTUCK) and FACE IT! All three books are on based 20 years of original courage research. She is certified in the Enneagram and MBTI® and she is a certified Newfield Network coach. Please visit

Watch my YouTube: Courageous Leadership

Follow me onTwitter @courageexpert and Facebook

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