When Your Gut Speaks, Do You Listen?

Earlier today I had an exploratory phone call with a potential client.  In the end I turned down the work.

And boy did that feel good.

My first contact was through email and as soon as I read the information my gut stirred in a way that said, “Do not take this gig”. When you’re self-employed, it’s easy to get seduced by the money. I confided in someone I trust to test my theory. After a short conversation, my gut feeling was validated. Wrong gig for me.

One of the many things I’ve learned over the past five years of self-employment is that it’s better to politely decline work than take it if the end result is not a win-win. In this case my skill set didn’t match their needs. I’ve also learned to pay attention to the feeling in my gut, literally a stirring in my stomach followed by tension in my jaw and forehead. This physical response begs me to listen up and listen closely.

Decisions require a combination of data, risk assessment, gut instinct and confidence. Although not the only indicator, my gut is a key component whether I’m assessing work, people or my physical environment.

It took some time to pay attention to my gut and I’m not always on target. What helps?

  • Asking questions like: Am I afraid because this is new or is it really beyond my scope of ability?
  • Meditating or sitting quietly in order to pay attention to the stirring in my stomach. Sometimes distractions are not helpful.
  • Writing down my thoughts. I write down every possible scenario, often in response to the question above.
  • Getting a new perspective. Talking it through with someone I trust is incredibly helpful. Even though the decision is mine, the outside perspective may shed some light I hadn’t noticed.

How about you? When you’re gut speaks do you listen? How has paying attention to your instincts worked for or against you?

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  • http://silverandgrace.com Eliza

    Do I listen to my gut? Always! Always! Always! The gut KNOWS! My intuition is simply part of my decision making process, be it business or personal.

    You are absolutely right about business owners being seduced by money and ignoring the gut. In the end, however, this will not only cost you money, but precious energy and peace of mind as well.

  • http://staceyshipman.com Stacey Shipman

    Hi Eliza, Thank you for stopping by – I know living by your gut is what you do! The gut does know, I completely agree.

  • http://LifesLittleInspirations.com Wendi Kelly-Life’s Little Inspirations,Blue Sun Media


    I have had both listened and not listened, and the few times I have not listened, I have paid dearly in money and in stress. I have learned my lesson the hard way! Now I know enough about myself to wait for that small stillness of peace inside that tells me a decision is the right one. That hasn’t failed me yet.

  • http://staceyshipman.com Stacey Shipman

    Hi Wendi! It’s amazing, right, when we give ourselves that opportunity to just sit and listen. Thanks for sharing your thoughts and stopping by.

  • http://www.workconsciously.com Chris Edgar

    Yeah, I can definitely relate — what I’ve been experimenting with lately is trying to be as open as possible about the reservations that I’m feeling when I’m with someone, without blaming the other person for how I feel. If I can’t do that, then the affection or warmth I express toward people takes on a false quality. It’s been a worthy challenge.

  • http://staceyshipman.com Stacey Shipman

    Chris – I’ve done the same. Often wondering “Why am I responding like this”. It is an interesting experiment in awareness and self-inquiry.

  • http://www.livingalways.com Livingalways

    I can also relate to that, although I still have to get better at it. Last time it happened, it did not feel good in the first place and then a lot of obstacles came up and made the execution difficult, but i pulled through anyway. In the end I lost quite bit of money, although in the end I did gain one friend.

    Sometimes I still have some difficulty differentiating between a bad gut-feeling and simply having an odd feeling because I am stepping out of my comfort zone or try something new and unknown. My brief daily meditations have helped an I am getting better at it.

    Thanks for your story, which confirms that I am on the right track!

  • http://staceyshipman.com Stacey Shipman

    Hi Livingalways – Great point about differentiating between the different feelings. That is a hard one. I, too, find meditation helps quite a bit! Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

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