Clarity on any subject, be it large like our lives or businesses or careers. Or smaller such as individual tasks and problems. Comes from knowing how to prioritise and take action on the items that matter.
Learning how to get clarity on almost any subject is a learned skill. It’s a habit and requires you to remember some key points.
I want to make sure that this is clear. Clarity is like any skill, the more you use it, the better you’ll get. It’s like a habit and you’ll only feel the full benefits once you start to use it repeatedly.
Clarity at the start of the day. Clarity during meetings and conversations or arguments. Clarity on seemingly impossible tasks takes practice.
Also, it’s worth remembering that some situations don’t have a win-win outcome. You’re not always going to find a perfect outcome. But true clarity, is knowing that the outcome probably isn’t going to ruin your life.
We’re often more afraid of the choice than the outcome. Worrying about making the wrong choice can seem like a life changing decision. But if we were just told to deal with an outcome, we can accept that much easier.
A few years ago my partner and I secured a mortgage. I couldn’t have done it without employment. Banks don’t look kindly on those of us who run our businesses.
The day I got the keys to my house, I quit. It was the smartest and easiest thing I’ve ever done. I had run a business before but was working at a job to secure a mortgage and boost the coffers.
My actions were of course considered reckless, foolish and even willingly negligent by some people. Lots of people were happy to tell me I was putting my family and partner in danger.
I had a stroke of pure enlightenment when I realised that I didn’t want the job I had. It was boring, management made everything very difficult and I didn’t want to progress inside the company.
Leaving the job was a result of clarity, but not in the way most people expect. I didn’t weigh up my options and think “either leave or stay”. I knew I wanted to leave, clarity helped me see that if EVERYTHING went wrong, I could probably get another job.
There are very few decisions that are so massive that they’ll ruin your life forever. It just doesn’t happen.
Clarity allowed me to see past the negativity, worry and soothsayers to see that the outcome could be managed, no matter what.
We’re going to get clarity on choice and options AND look at being clear on the outcome. Knowing we can commit to something and be clear that we’re going to succeed at it.
You don’t need more information
The first thing most people do, when faced with a choice – is get more information.
We’re taught this very early at school, it follows us all the way through college to University.
If you want to make a decision, you need data and information. Make your point, find something to back it up (evidence) and present your conclusion.
This thinking is flawed and will only lead to analysis paralysis.
Let’s say we’re looking at the options for whether we should leave our job and start a business.
What are the options for information that we could look up?
- Statistics for people who leave jobs and return
- Books and guides on leaving your job and starting a business
- Types of businesses to start
- Ways to convince friends and family you’re doing the right thing
- Ways you can improve your job so you could start.
I could go on. The list is almost endless. But at the end of all that research, you’ll be no better informed. That’s the paradox of research for choice.
Let’s look at another example. Investment. Stocks, shares, funds and investing have always seemed more complicated that they really are.
As soon as you spend a little time looking at stocks, funds and investing the rabbit hole goes very deep. There are thousands upon thousands of options.
Do you go with EFTs, tracker funds, individual stock options? What will perform better? Which one will give you a decent return?
It’s easy to see how people just switch off and never make ANY decision, just incase they make the wrong one.
Which brings us to two very important points.
ANY decision is better than no decision. The results come from picking ONE thing and committing to it.
Remember that clarity is knowing we can probably always change our decision, live with the consequences OR more importantly (and likely) know that this will probably never affect our lives again.
Second, clarity comes from deep research and information. Finding information on which choice to make, is never going to help.
Finding information on committing to that decision is a million times more effective.
Decide to leave your job or decide to stay. You don’t need information on which decision to make. You need information on how to succeed and commit to a decision.
If we decide to leave our job, what business do we start? In truth, it doesn’t matter. Picking a business and researching what’s going to help you succeed is more important.
“But if I make the wrong choice! Then what?” Change. You can change, you can always make adjustments.
You don’t need opinions
A few years back, I was on a small businesses committee designed to help local businesses succeed.
The committee was made up of men and women, of varying ages and experience. Different backgrounds and business types meant we had a wide range of insight. It sounds like the perfect group to help small local businesses.
In truth, it was a nightmare. Yes, there was a chairman and there was a treasurer. There was a leadership and a vision (in the form of a charter) which was supposed to guide our decisions.
But of course, everyone had different ideas on how to best serve local businesses. Some of the members just wanted what was best for everyone, no matter what. Some businesses just wanted to help. Some businesses where in it for themselves and toxic to the group.
Any decision that needed to be made, was open to all the group to weigh in. On the surface this sounds like a fair, democratic approach to arriving to a decision.
It was often put to a vote on the final choice, but the choices were arrived at via group discussion. This an utterly futile method of making choices.
Take the choice of leaving a job or staying. If you asked your closest friends and family, what would they say? It probably wouldn’t be overwhelming either way. People in a job would say stay, people who have left would say leave.
What about if we opened up the the audience. Let’s ask everyone in your network. Even people you don’t know too well. What option would be the clear winner?
In truth, you could ask a million people and you’d probably still be at a 50/50 result.
Clarity does NOT and has never come from crowdsourcing opinions. The camel is a horse designed by committee.
Your singular vision is more perfect than what 100 or 1000 or 10 000 000 people can help with. Choices made by committee are flawed, compromised and watered down.
This is the first major breakthrough for commitment, clarity and Universe Fuel. Decisions you make for yourself and by yourself, are stronger than anything you’ll hear from others.
Ignoring “common sense” and the voices of everyone around you, will FORCE you to drive your energy forward.
You’re not going to get clarity from everyone.
“Can I give you some advice?”
Absolutely not. Thanks, but no thanks.
Advice has always come from well wishers and people who mean well. But it’s flawed.
If you’ve ever been pregnant, you know how common this phrase is. People with kids, people who are pregnant, people who have worked with kids, people with no kids…all of them have groundbreaking and 100% factually accurate advice that will change your life for the better.
Except of course they don’t. I get it, I really understand that people are just trying to help. Hell, I’m probably guilty of handing out unsolicited advice.
But people are really quick to hand out investment tips when they’re not risking their own money.
Isn’t this book advice? Aren’t I being a total hypocrite? Sure am. The difference is that I haven’t tried to give you this without you asking. You picked this up and if you decide to throw it in the trash, that’s your prerogative.
In fact, if you threw the book away here, told me my advice sucked and became super famous, rich and successful despite me – I’d be as happy as could be.
Because all the advice, opinions, data and information in the world can’t make someone successful. 100% commitment to the outcome is what makes people successful.
A word on mentorship: I think it’s critical to mention at this point, the difference between mentorship and advice.
When I first started, I had a mentor assigned to me from The Princes’ Trust. The “PT” is a charity who have a department who help young businesses start up and secure a loan.
Steve was my mentor and we clicked straight away. I was very lucky with me being assigned to Steve.
As a mentor, Steve’s job was NEVER EVER EVER to give me advice. His job was to explore my options, talk through my choices and support my decision.
Now, I’d rather take the mentorship over the loan any day. Why? Because I could tell Steve my stupid ideas, good ideas and REALLY stupid ideas and I’d never hear whether they were good or bad. He’d just help me make a choice and stick to it.
Steve helped me be accountable to my actions. Income, sales, activities, work. It was all talked over and I’m grateful that I had someone to vent to, tell ideas to and all without judgement.
I remember at one very stressful point, I was being sued by a larger and older company.
We laugh about it now, but Steve said it was hard not to side with my idea for pipe-bombing their office.
They were bullying me as a small, independant and single person business. I was pissed.
But Steve listened to all my options, help me see other choices and questioned me to make a decision. In the end we decided to use my insurance legal cover to deal with it.
We won the court case and were awarded compensation. At the age of 25, I wanted to drive a car through their office. Steve wasn’t that far off supporting me to do that. But having someone who could let me vent was important and I value that relationship to this day.
Find a mentor. Someone who WON’T give advice, but will help you make decisions and stick to them.
Goals change and that’s fine
The problem with clarity is that it doesn’t hang around long. It’s very frustrating to come to a decision and realise that what you’re doing, is no longer what you want.
And that is 100% OK.
Goals, the end objective we’re all trying to reach, change.
At one point, my goal was to have my own LED TV, gaming PC and enough money for weed.
In my mid-twenties, my goals were to get a house and move in with my partner.
Now, my goal is spend less time at the office, make more money and travel more.
Goals change and that’s fine. As we grow as human beings, our priorities change.
If I continued to act like TV, gaming and weed were still my goals, I’d never make much of myself.
Sometimes goals change even if we don’t reach them. Just because I wanted to do or see one thing a year ago, doesn’t mean it’s important now.
We often think that long term commitment is what we’re scared of. Making a decision to commit to a long goal seems like such a huge deal that it scare us.
When we really look deep, changing our goals is more scary. Not wanting to go drinking, smoking and wasting money anymore is a change in goal.
Those things aren’t how I define happiness and success now. But changing my goals means leaving friends behind, exploring new worlds (scary) and growing up.
Changing our commitment is scarier than committing forever, because we usually commit to things that we can just about live with.
Rather than focus on goals that would be 100x harder for us to accomplish, we commit to lower bars that let us get by.
Goals change and that’s fine. You might grow out of them, decide they’re not for you anymore or realise there is something else you want to go after.
This is NOT the same as changing your commitments and goals every few months. Some of us struggle with commitment of any type and we change our goals too frequently to get any traction (more on that later).
Goals are like the material you build a house with. Your vision and purpose (more on that later too) are like the shape and design of the house.
You wouldn’t change from brick, to cob to glass halfway through a wall. But finishing one room or wall is acceptable. Having a clear vision and purpose is what’s going to help you commit to the right material early on though.
The realisation that you don’t like what you’re doing
Clarity is a double edged sword. It gives us direction and allows us to commit. But it sometimes throws up choices that we didn’t know we have to make.
Take my pal Alex for example. For a long time, her business had run on designing and building websites. Something wasn’t clicking for her and we had a chat on Skype.
After going through the exercises below, it became clear that what she really enjoyed doing with customers is looking at their efficiencies and processes and helping them improve their effectiveness.
But does she change overnight? Does she stick with it because web design gives her family money and income?
Honestly, I couldn’t make that choice for her. I couldn’t give her advice.
All we can do is understand that those are our options and get clear on what to do now.