Not having clarity on what your next steps are can feel suffocating and exhausting. Your headspace is constantly full of ‘What ifs’ and ‘How do I’s?’ and ‘Can I actually do it’s?’.
We live in a society that touts the abundance of opportunity and ‘If you want something bad enough you’ll find a way’. All well and good, but what happens when you don’t have a clue which opportunity is the right one for you. When you don’t have the self trust and inner strength to be confident in your choices.
Often I see people creating a ideal scenarios or outcomes based on the ‘grass is greener on the other side’ and focusing on the overarching feeling rather than breaking it down, doing the preliminary groundwork and bringing things down to a manageable level.
Here are 5 valuable questions you can ask yourself to gain more clarity on your next best steps forward.
Am I giving myself the space to think clearly?
Do you have your best ideas when you’re just starting to drift off or when you’re in the shower? This isn’t a co-incidence. What these have in common is they are likely the times of your day when you stop, when you relax a little and when the conscious thinking parts of your brain take a back seat.
I know from personal experience that if I don’t put the effort into creating space, both in regards to time and headspace, to think clearly I can’t even begin to articulate my next steps or the bigger picture I’m heading towards.
So I invite you to create time in your day that is earmarked for quiet and for you to be with yourself and not ticking boxes, wearing one of your many hats or creating mental to do lists longer than the Great Wall of China.
I would suggest giving yourself 20-30 minutes. Use this time to journal, listen to music with a cuppa, meditate, do some yoga (or another gentle activity). Anything that slows your mental chatter and physical rushing down a little and gives you the opportunity to create some mental space. You might be surprised with what comes to light when you give yourself some mental space.
What do I want more of in my life?
This on the surface seems like a cop out of a question BUT… Have you ever actually asked yourself this question and answered honestly? You may respond flippantly with more money, holidays abroad, a bigger house, a great place to start. I would challenge you to turn this question on its head and instead of looking at material things to look at feelings, emotions, or actions. For example ‘I want more adventure in my life’ or ‘I want more financial freedom in my life’ or ‘I want more joy in my life’.
The next step to this is to look at what small steps you could take in the next week or two to bring you closer to that statement being true for you.
As Vincent Van Gogh said “Great things are done by a series of small things brought together’.
Which leads on to the next question.
What one small step would take me closer to where I want to be?
People tend to approach bigger goals in one of two ways. They are either a top down thinker or a bottom up thinker. In NLP we call this chunking down or chunking up. Essentially a top down thinker prefers to look at the bigger picture and break it down in to smaller steps i.e. chunk down. A bottom up thinker will lean towards fulfilling a series of smaller steps before they are able to see or feel the bigger picture i.e. chunking up.
There is no right or wrong way to think or process information but knowing which way works for you can help. What both of them have in common though is the smaller steps. So, what one small step would take you closer to where you want to be?
What am I not giving myself permission to do?
Through fear of failure or even sometimes fear of success we can hold ourselves back from what we want. We can create pseudo excuses as to why we can’t do something AKA self sabotage. So this has many levels and it’s important to recognise that there are going to be times your plan or your big dreams aren’t possible right now. It doesn’t mean they are never going to be and it doesn’t mean you can’t take a smaller step towards it.
So what are you not giving yourself permission to do? Where are you getting in your own way? Where could you maybe step aside and let yourself boldly take a leap forward?
If nothing changes am I happy with the status quo?
Nothing helps you get clear about what it is you really want than asking a blunt question. Go with your gut. Regardless of whether your answer is yes or no ask yourself why. Why are you happy with the status quo? This will show you what you might want to focus on more in your life to amplify the parts you love. If your answer is no then ask yourself Why aren’t you happy with the status quo? This will show you what parts aren’t supporting you and where you might want to take some steps to changing it.
In conclusion clarity is not a case of haves and have nots, it is a case of making it happen by taking intentional preliminary steps to ease the load and make it a little easier on yourself. Hopefully this article has made you think about the fact maybe it’s not your lack of creating clarity that’s your stumbling block but the way you approach creating clarity that could use some work.