A wise mentor of mine many years ago advised me to always have clarity before making a choice. This is one way to go about things. In most cases, this allows us to slow down and assess what our hoped-for outcome is and the strategies we will use to achieve that outcome. Her advice cautions us to not make choices out of confusion or haste. Sometimes this means simply being able to identify when you are confused. Sometimes this means keeping track of your emotions and knowing when you are acting out of fear or anger.
In my experience, I have learned that when I (or others) act before understanding the goals or intentions of my choice there are far more problems that show up. And in these instances, it then becomes challenging to assess the source of the problems because there is too much noise in the data to solve things easily. Whereas, if I know why I’m making a choice and problems still come up, I can step back and look at the situation, more easily understanding what went wrong. For many people this can also put a limit on how much they blame themselves for something going wrong. (This last bit deserves a full blog post and I now intend to write one later. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org if this is something you do and we can talk.)
A different wise mentor had seemingly conflicting advice (seemingly, but not really and I will tell you why in a minute). He said that if you don’t know what you want or where you want to go that it doesn’t much matter because you are bound to get somewhere if you just start walking. If that sounds familiar, it should. I’m paraphrasing the Cheshire Cat, one of my favorite literary turned cartoon characters.
My proposition is that we should listen to both of these wise beings. Act out of clarity when you know for sure what you want and how to get it, but when you are not sure what you want or you don’t know how to get it, start there. Start stepping toward what you DO have clarity about and what you know you DO want.
We are all improvising this life we are in as we go, and we already have the skills to accomplish great and satisfying things! You might not know your next career step, but you know you want more money or more challenge or more prestige. Step in that direction and start figuring out more details as your clarity widens. Many people wait to have every detail ironed out before they start something and then they never start. Is this you? I can help. How many geniuses do we have in the world we don’t know about because they are planning out every detail and getting stymied? My guess is a lot. And I’m thinking if you are reading this you are wanting an answer to that, too.
Some of this may seem like I am oversimplifying. And in some ways I am, but I am doing it to make a point and frame the concept. Sometimes to find movement toward a hoped-for goal we have to pull back our view and get up to a high place to view the territory. And sometimes we just have to start with the limited information we have and find trusted advisors who can help us get there. To get anywhere, you have to start somewhere.