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Why clarity is your best ally on the road to success

The Strong Clouds
Creative Commons License photo credit: dobrych

Is everything clear?

Have you ever felt like something wasn’t right, without being able to point out what it is or why it’s giving you this feeling?

It might be your career, your personal life or simply the number of items on that damn new restaurant menu.

Wouldn’t it be nice if everything just made perfect sense? No wondering, no hesitation, just the feeling of knowing…

Would you like some clarity on the side?

Having clarity means knowing what your current situation is, what you’d like it be to, how they differ, but most importantly, how to close the gap and achieve what you want.

If you know where you want to go, and how to get there, congratulations! You can stop reading now. Otherwise, stay with me.

“I had the perfect plan!”

Awesome! Me too! It involved me being rich and famous (basically ruling the world) by 25. Hasn’t happened yet. Nor do I still want it to happen, mind you, but I digress.

If life always went according to plan, it’d be way easier, or at least, more comfortable. Unfortunality for our controling nature, life rarely goes according to (our) plan.

All the unexpected events and unforeseen consequences in your life slowly changed the picture. But worse, most of the time, they don’t actually brag about it, so you might not realize that the circumstances have changed until way later. That creates confusion, not only about the present situation, but also about the future: what’s ahead and what’s possible (or not). If you’re in your forties but still dream about competing in the Olympics, sorry to destroy your dreams: never gonna happen.

Maybe it’s time to move on and shop for some new goals.

Focus on why, not how

Imagine you go to the store to get a dishwasher. After a few minutes wandering around, you find yourself in front of a list of all the characteristics of the machine: speed, capacity, eco-friendliness, price, etc. And while these informations may give you some idea of how that particular piece of machinery will behave, it is easy to get caught up in all the details and forget why you wanted it in the first place: to help you reduce your burden, save time, and enjoy more of the rest.

Whether you’re looking for a dishwasher or a job doesn’t actually matter, if you have enough clarity to know what you want and why you want it, you’ll know how to choose the right match for your goals and the life you want. Besides, you’ll be less prone to influences from third parties, who have their own goals, which quite often conflict with yours.

Doing or buying one thing because that’s what your peers expect is not a good enough reason to act. Knowing why you’re doing something is the only way to be invested in it while going forward.

When you are confused, your mind is reluctant to go forward and take any action. The best first step to get unstuck on your path, is to get more clarity.

“Naah, it’s fine, I’ll just figure it out while going along”

Seriously? Is that your answer or the fear talking?

Do you know where you current path leads?

Do you know where you want to go?

If both destinations are the same, great, you can simply act as usual and continue on your current path. But if the answers are not clear, or are inconsistent, you need to ask why. What on your path is not aligned with who you are and where you want to go? How can you change it?

Having clarity means you:

  • know where you are, what are the paths available to you, and what they entail
  • understand why you’re doing what you’re doing
  • are motivated to act and go forward because you know exactly what you’ll get
  • can decide in an instant what to do because everything is clear in your mind
  • are less stressed by everything that goes in your way because you can process them easily and effectively
  • know what you need to go forward, and are less hesitant to ask for it

I see no reason not to want that (but if you do, please share in the comments!).

Gain more clarity

It is very difficult to get more clarity when overwhelmed with things and thoughts. Past a certain point, you need, at the very least, a wall to bounce things off. Here are a few things to get you started on the road to clarity:

  • put your thoughts on paper, see where they go
  • draw a mind map of your situation
  • ask a trusted friend and exchange with her your thoughts about your condition
  • try new things: a cooking class, a new sport
  • go for a walk in an unknown place.

Getting a new frame of reference will help you gain more perspective.

A life of uncertainty

If you’ve been tolerating something that’s not right for you for months or years, you’ll probably struggle to even acknowledge that you don’t need nor want that thing in your life. It’s easier to  make excuses than to challenge one’s whole life, it’s easier to tolerate and say “it’s not that bad”.

But it is.

Take any given situation in your life and ask yourself–“why?”  Is it giving you what you want?  If not, then why not? What can you change in your life to get what you want? Does your current environment support you in your goals? If not, why don’t you drop it?

Do you need help? Do you want help? Would you be willing to use it? Or would you rather listen carefully and then do nothing?

If you’re not ready to try anything different, acknowledge your fear, and deal with it before asking again. But if you’re curious enough and want to actually try, go for it!

Connections create clarity

Sometimes you can’t do it on your own. There’s no shame in that, on the contrary, knowing when to ask for help and actually doing it is a sign of wisdom and courage. The smartest guy in town is the one who populates his entourage with people more competent (or specialized) than he is.

Look for help, ask for help. Meet with a friend, a counselor, a priest, a coach, a mentor, read a book, watch a documentary, or a fiction. Whoever and whatever can help you get more acquainted with your situation and go forward.

Clarity is one of the most important tool when you want to be conscious about your choices and your life. It’s also one of the most overlooked. Too bad, because it’s very easy to know when you need it: in case of doubt, seek more clarity.

What do you need more clarity on today?

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