January 5, 2009

Good day, team,

It’s a new year and a good time to think about our resolutions and intentions for 2009. I must confess, I’ve given up on the resolution that I’ve repeated every January for the past 10 years. Each new year I resolve to lose 15 lbs. Alas, I weigh exactly what I weighed in 1999, according to an old health club application dated Jan. 6, 1999. So rather than resolve to do the same old thing that I can’t seem to do, I thought I’d try something new this year.

While I was talking with my editor yesterday evening on the phone, she told me about a recent incident in which she learned, yet again, about the importance of trusting her instincts. That struck a chord in me, and this year I’m resolving to trust my instincts.

When I got off the phone, I remembered several good examples of the benefits of trusting your instincts. Here are two of them:

One evening after work, my husband and I were driving into the city to meet some friends for dinner, traveling a busy city street with many stoplights. As we approached one of the intersections, a car from the other direction sped through at high speed, running the red light. If my husband had not slowed down and stopped, that car would have hit us for sure. We were both pretty shaken up, but continued on our way once it was safe enough to do so. After a long silence, I exclaimed, “Wow, what was that?” My husband replied, “I had a ‘blink’ moment.”  He was referring to a book named “Blink” that he had just read.

“Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking” is a 2005 book by Malcolm Gladwell in which he explores the power of the trained mind to make split-second decisions. He also talks about trusting our ability to do this, demonstrating that we miss many opportunities by over-analyzing our thoughts and feelings.

Another good example occurred last year when I was working with a nonprofit to help them find a new executive director. There were some candidates whose resumes indicated they would be a perfect fit for the position, but my instincts told me that something about them wasn’t quite right. In a hiring situation, I try to remain completely open-minded throughout the process and give everyone an equal chance. But when my gut tells me that something is off, I have to dig a little deeper to find out why. In the end, my instincts were right, and as the candidates went through their interviews, those instincts proved to be accurate.

As a coach, I often find that people speak to me with two voices: the one I can hear with my ears and the one I can only hear with my heart. Sometimes a client will tell me something that is only partially true. The rest of the truth is unspoken, but something in me gets a message anyway. I recall one client saying to me, “Gee, I remember you asked me that question a month ago, and I guess I only half answered it. The truth is … .” In these moments I’m grateful for that little voice within me that knows, even though it has no intellectual basis for knowing.

Whatever your new year’s resolution, make it one that isn’t too hard to achieve. I have a feeling that this will be a challenging year for most of us, and setting resolutions that are too difficult to achieve will just tend to depress us. Trust your instincts on this one and listen to the little voice within you that already knows what you need to resolve to do this year that you can actually accomplish.

Have a good week!


Kathleen Doyle-White
Pathfinders Coaching
(503) 296-9249

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