06/09/2015 02:28 pm ET Updated Jun 09, 2016

Waiting For Permission to Quit

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It seems difficult to gain and keep full confidence while moving forward in life. Especially if it's a new transition or something you've never done before. Making a career move, having a baby, making a physical move, starting (or ending) a relationship, starting (or stopping) a hobby.

Instead we tend to get this inkling, or an idea, and then have doubt creep in and take over. Doubt causes us to second-guess ourselves and look outside ourselves for permission to take action (or not).

Maybe it's just me, but after seeing this pattern in several of my clients, maybe it's not just me.

We could feel stuck, but our lives look and feel so normal compared to everyone else's, so we cope with feeling stuck, because perhaps we're where we're supposed to be? Or they look different than everyone else's, so we take inauthentic action to adjust to what we think they should look like. But those supposed to ideas and should be thoughts are dangerous.

They're dangerous because they'll indefinitely prevent you from living the life you really want to live. From creating the business you're really craving. From taking risks that others are convincing you are too risky.

For most of my life, I've been seeking permission and validation to move forward -- everything from what sport to play as a kid to what area of concentration I was focusing on in college to what clothes I wore or car I drove as an adult. I was always being unconsciously influenced by others.

But I've managed to break the cycle for the most part by pausing and asking myself questions that help me uncover whether I'm living unconsciously according to what I think others think is best for me or living fully conscious and creating a meaningful and purposeful life.

This has come up again for me recently because I'm 33 weeks pregnant and have just recently paused all of my coaching clients until after the baby arrives. So, the last few days I've been a stay at home mama with my 2-year-old and I've been exhausted... pretty much every day. My husband has also been working pretty much every day, so it's just me here most of the time. And yes, we're still building a new house that is now being completed the very same week our son is due to arrive.

I feel great with taking a break with my coaching clients because I don't feel I'd have the energy or be able to show up 110% for them like I would have before hitting this point in my pregnancy. I also feel great about the growing number of women emailing me wanting to work together in the fall. And I feel great about really taking full advantage of these last few weeks alone with my daughter before she becomes a big sister.

But what I don't feel great about is the little voice inside that keeps reminding me how tired I am and how I should just quit this whole entrepreneur thing all together until the kids are in school.

I've been drawn to writing more lately, too, and that little voice has been using that against me, too. I should just write, I don't have time for anything else. It tells me I should close down the coaching business for a few years. Plus since I'm moving to a new state shortly, it's been trying to convince me it will be too complicated to transfer the business. It's constantly whispering, "Just close up shop, Katie."

So, depending on the day, I start Googling and seeking external permission to take action. To close my business or to carry on. To quit or to grow...

But today, feeling more exhausted than yesterday, driving my ear-infection-prone-year-old to the doctors, I had a moment of clarity and saw what I was doing... I was waiting patiently for someone to tell me how I should move forward with all of this. Because don't we all wish someone would just tell us exactly what to do and when to do it in order to live happy, purposeful lives?

But what happens when we continuously seek the right plan of action and seek out someone or something to tell us what to do, we usually find it. And it's not always aligned with our true vision and our true passion in life.

So catching myself doing this... I started to get curious instead.

Would it actually be easier to quit? To shut down my website, to stop blogging, to email my potential clients waiting and announce to the world, not right now, I'm too busy, I'm too stressed to do what I love?

Sure. Quitting probably would be a hell of a lot easier.

But why? I sit here and ask myself why.

It's because I'm tired today and anticipating me being just as tired in September. It's me projecting there is no way to make this work. It's me wanting to eliminate something I love rather than taking some time and effort to designing the new life and business that will work for my growing family.

And so then I get more curious and ask myself, "What's the worse that could happen if I carried on?"

1. I'd have even more firsthand experience of coping and moving through overwhelm as a mom entrepreneur when I get to the other side of this pregnancy.

2. I'd find creative ways to fit in my passion for coaching and working with other women alongside growing my family.

3. I'd be more patient with my family (I always come back to my family fully refreshed and present after a coaching session).

4. I'd be building a business I can catapult in any direction I want when the kids go to school.

5. I'd be using my greatest gifts and talents to help others create more meaningful (& easier!) lives and businesses.

6. The very worse that could happen? I limit the clients I accept.

I'm sort of chuckling... because those are the worst-case scenarios.

So now with all that said... if I would have called anyone (other than a fellow coach) and asked them their opinion in the matter. Or if I would have started to Google the right next step. I very well could have gotten confirmation that it's too hard now. That I deserve to quit. And I could have shut down my business tonight and never thought twice about it. And unfortunately, so many of us, so often, take that route.

But because I paused and got curious. Because I asked myself why. And in this case, even brainstormed the worst case scenarios... I'm carrying on. Still tired (which I know is not forever), but also feeling purposeful without the dread of future overwhelm. Feeling realigned you might even say.

I dug deep within and discovered what I really wanted. I got clear on the life and business I actually wanted, at least for right now in my life, and granted myself permission to move forward.

The funny thing is in my case is that I didn't have to take any action or inaction. That I've already simplified everything own. I've already taken the action necessary and everything is flowing and easy. Nothing has changed. Actually, things have gotten easier (business-wise) over the last few weeks. It was all in my head. It was my thought pattern. It was my mindset. My projecting the worst for the future and my doubting mind seeking for outside permission to just quit it all.

Our mind can sometimes be a dangerous place, so taking time to pause and dig deep within our hearts we can find the relief we need. Even if there is no action to take other than a perception shift.

In my opinion, we need to go within a lot more than we need to seek without. We need to find our own drivers and our own dreams and create purposeful action from that place. When we do this, everything seems to fall in to place.

Katie O'Brien is a Certified Professional Coach who's on a mission to inspire her fellow mom entrepreneurs to embrace a life of simplicity. She writes about her own journey towards simplicity & how she balances the many demands of motherhood alongside entrepreneurship. Get more inspiration & connect with Katie at