The idea of finding clarity can sometimes make us anxious, because we feel as though once we can see something clearly we have to “do something about it”. Or the thought of finding clarity can be relaxing because we imagine that being clear about things will change how we behave.
The important thing to remember is that clarity is just a step. What we do about it once we have it is entirely up to us. There is no timescale in which we need to act just because we feel clearer. There is no guarantee that we will change anything at all. Clarity simply gives us the choice – once we are clear about things we have more opportunities to act.
When thinking about finding more clarity, here are my top ten things to consider:
Some people will tell you that to find clarity you have to be in an open space, or a tidy room, or a clean and light environment. This may very well be true, but by far the most important thing is that you feel safe. If being in a big, clear, open space makes you anxious, you are not going to find clarity there. So any time you want to give yourself time and space to think clearly, make sure you are in a place where you feel safe and free from anxiety.
One of the most important things to get clear on is what we need. If we understand our needs we can ensure they are met and with our needs met we are far more likely to be productive and successful. We talked about some basic needs for calm, but we all also have more complex needs. Sometimes it is hard to accept these, particularly if they are needs we feel we “should not” have. Perhaps we feel that the only things we “should” need are food, water, shelter and warmth?
Do you feel guilty about the other things that you know you need in order to feel ready to work, in order to feel good, in order to have a good day?
Forgive yourself. Your needs are valid. Get clear on what they are, accept them and meet them. You are allowed to need what you need.
Get clear on what is happening
We all lead busy lives, and our professional lives are simply one part of that. We could be very clear on what we want in business and then struggle to understand why we can’t focus on those goals – but it is because we are not taking into account the whole of our lives. Write down every aspect of your life that requires your attention: work, family, home, hobbies, social obligations, personal needs, what you do for fun….
All of these things demand your time and it is important to be clear on everything that is taking up our headspace.
What is really taking up your time and headspace? Putting aside what you would ideally like to focus on, have a look at the last few days or weeks and get clear on the things that are truly taking up your day. This is not about automatically deciding anything has to change – it is simply important to see the real picture so that you know where you are starting from. How do you really spend your time, regardless of your intentions?
If we are busy people we imagine that we are thinking all the time, our brains constantly working, thoughts flying from one thing to another. Yet we rarely actually pay attention to what we are thinking and feeling. In fact, giving ourselves time to pay attention can feel scary as we don’t really know what we might find!
If you can take just 5 minutes every day to pay attention to your thoughts, to see what is taking up your headspace, or to write down just a few key words and phrases that sum up how you are feeling at that moment, you will start to get some clarity on where you are really at. If we pay attention to our thoughts and feelings, even for a short while, we can discover helpful things that have been hidden by the bustle of everyday life.
Fears and assumptions
How many great ideas have you discounted because “it could never work”, “I couldn’t do that”, “that’s just silly”, “that’s not for me”. Are you sure that those assumptions are true? Again, this is not about immediately changing anything, but it is worth writing down your ideas, dreams, wishes and secret goals and then getting clear on why you think you cannot achieve them. What is the fear? What are you assuming about yourself? This is a useful list to have in front of you. Let’s get clear on what is holding you back.
What is your why?
Why do you do the job that you do? Why do you do the other things you do in your life? Why do you spend time with certain people? Why do some activities make you feel particularly good? Working out why we are doing things, or more likely remembering why we are doing things, helps us to get clear on what we would like to do more of, what we might want to change, and what we perhaps don’t need to do anymore. When are lives are busy and full of routine it’s easy to forget that we have reasons for doing the things that we do – and if we cannot think of a reason it could be time to ask ourselves if we want to do something different instead?
Feed your mind
There are so many inspirational videos and podcasts available online for free that it is easy to find ways to feed your mind and inspiration. Listening to others who have clarity of purpose or clarity on what works for them can be enormously helpful. Personally I find the content from the following people particularly useful, but try out some different podcasts and content creators to find what is right for you:
Brene Brown – many of her talks are available on YouTube and her podcast is on Spotify or BreneBrown.com
Marie Forleo – subscribe to MarieTV on YouTube or find her podcast on Spotify
Tim Ferriss – his podcasts are available through Spotify or on tim.blog
Find the right people
Finding the right people in real life can be even more important than finding the right experts to follow online. How much clarity do the people in your life have about where they are headed? You might find it useful to seek out a networking group of people with similar experiences and goals to you, or to spend more time with friends who have a clear sense of purpose, or who want to find that as much as you do.
Spending time with people who lack clarity can make it easy for us to remain confused ourselves. I am not suggesting abandoning your friends (!) but simply be mindful of when you are spending time with someone who makes clarity more of a challenge.
Get it out on paper
Whether you like notebooks, sketchpads or Word documents, write down your thoughts and goals and get it all down on paper. It is so much easier to gain clarity when you can see your thoughts and fears, questions and aspirations written down in front of you.
Finding clarity is not a one time event, but something we can do regularly, whenever we feel confused or bogged down. If you would like some assistance in finding clarity in your life, my one-off 1 hour Headspace coaching sessions are just £50 if booked before 18 November 2020. Click here to find out more.
Helen Calvert, November 2020