A common theme between myself and my friends this year has been getting clear on what we want to achieve. It’s been a hard slog over the last couple of months to really define goals and get absolutely clear and focused on what the priorities for this year are. At least, it has been for me, because I’m a good one at wanting the whole pie, not just a slice of it. Gaining a clear idea of exactly what I’m meant to be doing has been a lot of hard work, but it’s also been fun because when the light bulb goes on it’s a beautiful site. It’s like one of those scenes from a movie where the fog lifts and before your eyes is the most beautiful site you’ve ever seen.
Now that I have a clear sense of purpose and at least a vague idea of what to do about it, it seems the proper thing to do to share how I got there. So if you’re feeling even half as unclear about things as I was a couple of months ago, here are seven action steps you can take to get you closer to being in the clear.
1. Visit your archives.
Okay, so my inner historian wants to be heard this morning. What I mean by visiting your archives is to take a trip back into your memories and find the times where everything appeared to be a little clearer than it is right now. Discover what you were doing at the time that made things flow a little smoother, where you seemed to be on track and absolutely clear about what you were doing. You may surprise yourself by finding patterns of thought and behaviors that you’d forgotten about.
Here’s an example from my own experience:
Much of my life until I moved to where I am now was centered around music. I pretty much learned to read music before I learned to read words, and could often be found in front of the piano. Sometimes I’d play, sometimes I’d just let my fingers wander over the keys. Just being in the same room with a piano brings out all sorts of clarity and creativity in me. Once I realized this I went out and bought a couple of books of old jazz standards and started making time to play the piano every day. For me the clarity that comes from sitting at the piano was something that I had forgotten about.
2. Write everything down.
And I do mean everything. Goals, dreams, thoughts, and feelings will all play a role in helping you get clear. Using a journal is an amazing tool for getting clear on what you want and, more importantly, why you want it. You’ll be able to see the patterns as they happen, and you will start seeing things in a different light once they are down on paper.
Another example: I am currently reading The Writing Diet by Julia Cameron. In my previous attempts at using a food journal it was a really clinical process. I’d record what I ate and when, how much I exercised, and what my blood glucose levels were before and after. No thoughts, no emotions, just numbers.
I’m only about halfway through the book, but already my journaling has changed and I’m seeing patterns and beliefs around food that I’d never realized before. In only a few days since I’ve been reading, I’m a lot more clear on why I eat the way I do, and what needs to happen to change that so I can really lose weight this year.
3. Read what you write.
This may seem like a no-brainer, but you’d be surprised at the number of people I know who write in their journals and never go back to reflect on what they’ve written. They treat it like a brain dump … and literally dump out the thoughts and feelings without ever stopping long enough to wonder why they felt that way.
When you really get “in the zone” while you’re journaling, you may find that you don’t consciously know what you’re writing. In essence it really is a brain dump because you’re just letting the words flow without stopping to think about them or edit them. You may surprise yourself with what shows up on the page after one of these sessions. Especially if you’ve gone into it asking for clarity.
4. Visualize what you want.
I’ll admit, I have a hard time with this one. I’ve never been very good at visualizing but for people who can do it, it pays amazing results.
When you can see and feel what it’s like to have the end result already, you can gain a real sense of clarity about what steps you need to take next to make the vision a reality.
5. Focus on one thing at a time.
One of my biggest obstacles to clarity was lack of focus. Makes sense doesn’t it. It took me a long time (years, if we’re being really honest here) to realize that by trying to focus on several things at once and thinking I could do all of them, I was unable to get clear about even one.
So how did I decide what to focus on? For me, I got clear through journaling. I did a lot of writing, meditating, and writing out what came through in the meditations. I asked for clarity and prioritized all my projects and business plans and then went with what felt right in my heart. What I learned when it comes to focusing is to trust your intuition. That little niggling feeling in your core really does know a thing or two about what’s best for you.
If that doesn’t work, you can always go for Step 6….
6. Pick a goal, any goal.
Most people have a lot of goals they want to accomplish. Personally, my goal list covers about three pages, and that’s just for this year!
If you have several things you want to accomplish, just pick one and get started. Your starting point doesn’t have to be perfect, you just have to start somewhere.
The words of Les Brown come to mind here: “You don’t have to be great to get started, but you have to get started to be great.”
7. Take responsibility for your action (or inaction).
When you get right down to it, how much clarity you have is something that is one-hundred percent in your control. You can either do the work to get clear, or not. The choice, and therefore the control, is yours.
If you are willing to do the work to get clear, I can tell you that having that clarity and focus around your purpose is a wonderful thing. Your life flows more smoothly, and opportunities and experiences that you never saw coming will appear on your doorstep.
Finally, say a big thank you to your friends when they urge you to get clear on what you really want. You may have to be dragged kicking and screaming into the idea of being clear and focused, but once you get there you’ll wonder why you waited so long!