Updated: Nov 4, 2021
Isn’t it ironic how we often search for clarity about clarity? As tempting as it is to want to know the right next step with certainty, we don’t always have to have all our answers – at least they don’t have to be clear in this moment. However, it is true that clarity is vital for achieving goals and attaining success. That’s why we are hungry for it.
What’s interesting is that most of the time we have more clarity than we lack. We just are hyper-aware of a lack of clarity in the case of what feels like a big, high-stakes decision. Do I change careers? Do I take on this new project? Do I need more credentials? Or in some cases, why is all my effort not paying off like I thought it would? In fact, when things don’t go the way we think they should, we actually start to question whether we were wrong. We create our own lack of clarity.
You see, clarity is less about every step in a process as it is about knowing our goals. Vague or absent goals means any path will get us there, and it also creates a nagging sense of dissatisfaction. Additionally, when we focus on the the steps rather than moving towards the goal, we can lose clarity very quickly.
So – what if you’re not feeling much clarity? What if you can’t make up your mind about what goal you should choose, and your decision-making seems muddled? This is actually a very common challenge and happens to the best of us from time to time.
Take myself, for example. I have two businesses. I run a marketing and branding consultancy as well as an executive leadership coaching practice. There was a lengthy period where I simple could not get clarity about how the two could work together, or how I could choose between the two of them. I allowed myself to remain uncertain while I gathered information – about what my clients wanted and even who I could best serve.
As I did my research I began to see that the two businesses were not as separate as I had originally thought. The CEOs and executives of the businesses I help with their branding have personal brands themselves. Their brands impact their businesses’ brands, and growing their impact and influence only enhances the influence and impact of their business. That was a light bulb moment for me. I let my uncertainty lead me to my clarity.
Fortunately, moving from a sense of uncertainty into full clarity isn’t particularly difficult.
All you need to do is take few simple actions, and clarity will follow:
Become curious. If you aren’t clear what to do next, you don’t have to just sit there waiting for inspiration. Instead, you can ask a small circle of trusted friends, peers or advisors for their experience or insight. You can meditate on the issue. You can read. You can experiment with approaches – yes, and risk getting it wrong. Regardless, curiosity shifts our perspective and our focus away from the problem and into the solution. It is open, and it is teachable. If you are going to get clarity, you are going to need to try something new.
Take responsibility. When we own our goals, because we they mean a tremendous amount to us, we reclaim any power we might have given to our parents, teachers, friends, boss or industry to tell what we should be striving towards. The power in taking full responsibility for anything is that you give yourself the power to change it. If you believe that something is inside of your control, you can always find a way to have what you want. You’ll never be stuck. Clarity is something that you ultimately create, not something that happens to you. Now sit with that for a moment. You create your clarity. If you’re currently not as well practiced at creating clarity as you would like, start with being crystal clear that you’re going to work on getting clear. How oddly powerful that idea is!
Start by making a decision (you have the right to be unsure it is “perfect”) and then sticking with it until success is achieved. Since you get better at making decisions by being aware of your priorities, you may need to spend some time contemplating what’s most important to you.
Use your past. Your past is a tool that’s always available. You are always learning about yourself, what your strengths, desires and preferences actually are. By reflecting on past successes and disappointments you can see patterns. If you have had an experience similar to the one where you are uncertain currently, you can look for patterns and beliefs that you might be trying to either avoid or are afraid you are recreating. Often the greatest obstacle to clarity is a fear of failing at what we truly want. If what you clearly desire seemed unattainable in the past, try approaching it differently, and open yourself up to the possibility your goal was achievable by a fresh route.
Visualize.You may think that things have to be a certain way before you can feel clear. Having everything “just so” can make focusing easier. However, even when things aren’t perfect, you can still choose to make a decision and stick with it. Instead of waiting for the ideal circumstances, visualize what your life would be like if they were in place. What would you know that you don’t know right now? How would you feel? Visualization can help you make decisions as though things are actually already the way you want them to be. I encourage your visualization to be as vivid and multi-sensory as possible. A friend of mine recently shared how he was putting off meditating on his beautiful back porch until he had the mountain home he was envisioning. I encouraged him to not put off until “someday” what he could give himself right now in this moment. By experiencing his perfect, clear goal, he actually moved towards it in both his mind and his present experience.
Write down your goals and review them. Having a written objective will help you stay clear. First of all, you have to make some decisions to even have a goal in the first place. Second, by reviewing that goal every day, you’ll keep reinforcing that objective. As you do this work, your clarity will become a little greater each day. Reviewing your goals first thing in the morning and last thing at night should work well for you. I also encourage you to have 3 types of goals: what you will have, be and do.
Believe that an okay goal is better than no goal. Many people get stuck making a goal because they believe they have to come up with the perfect goal. Nothing could be further from the truth. Don’t spend too much time or energy creating the goal. Just pick something that feels good to you and start working on it. I promise you, perfect or imperfect, your goals will evolve over time. Not only that – goals are just the next step towards your next goal – so you never reach a final destination. Lean into the journey of clarity.
Focus on one goal at a time. I guess this has to be said in our multitasking world. Having a high level of clarity is easier if you’re only focusing on one thing at time. Avoid spreading yourself too thin, especially at first. Certainly, we often have several tasks that are a part of achieving our goals, but too many goals is a recipe for confusion and a lack of fulfillment.
Use your intuition. There is a vast store of wisdom and insight in our unconscious mind. That is the seat of our intuition, which not only can access our past experiences at blinding speed, but also is constantly communicating to our conscious mind what we desire and need. I teach about ways to strengthen our connection to our intuition so we can access it reliably, on demand, in decisions where data and clarity seem to be lacking. One of the ways to do this is to keep a dream journal, which builds the neural network between our conscious and unconscious. Another is to check in with our bodies to see where we “feel” certain experiences and emotions, or are holding tension. Our intuition is always providing guidance and insight when we know how to listen and recognize it.
As you can see, you can do many things to increase your level of clarity. The best news is that you don’t have to wait; you can get started today.
Begin here. In this moment. Take a micro-step to clarity. Which of these approaches resonates with you. For the next 24 hours, get clear about that. The more often we look for clarity, the more often we will find it, because, as you know, where we focus, we flourish, and we attract the energy we are putting out into the Universe.
As you increase your clarity, your life will seem easier and easier. Before you know it, you’ll achieve goals you never even thought you could set for yourself. Now that’s progress!