7 Signs a Lack of Clarity is Holding You Back & How to Change It
The Big Week is Upon Us!
The week where ya’ll get to here what the hell i’ve been up to!
But before we get into that, I’ve got some goodies for you!
I want to share something that has been so crucial to me on my journey - getting clear on what the actual fuck I want in my life. Sorry to be crass, and I’m sorry if you find that wording disrespectful, but for so many of us, we have never asked ourselves this question. When you think about it, isn’t that insane? For some of us, we’ve gone through college, started our careers, started buying houses and getting married before we actually sit down and consider these things. In my opinion, this very fact is what leads to so many of mid- and quarter-life crises, divorces, epic and dramatic career changes, etc. I mean, it’s certainly what lead to my quarter-life crisis and career change. The moment I actually asked myself these questions and spent considerable time, effort and reflection figuring out the answers was the moment I realized how out of alignment I was.
I get it, and I’m certainly not blaming you if you are out of alignment. So many of us are so influenced by the opinions of our family, culture, etc. that we just forget to ask ourselves these things. But the important thing is that you do eventually ask these questions of yourself. But before we get to the questions you could and should ask yourself, how the actual eff can you even figure out if this applies to you? How do you know if you actually do lack clarity?
Here are 7 sign that a lack of clarity is holding you back…
You’re constantly changing your mind. Have you found yourself bouncing from job to job to job? Have you been bouncing around relationships? Have you moved like a million times in the last couple years? Heck, have you been dabbling in a million different hobbies? Then you, my friend, are probably struggling a bit with a lack of clarity. How many of you have seen the movie Eat Pray Love? I want you to think back to her husband at the beginning of the movie…yes, the one that she left, divorced and who spurred her whole year abroad. Do you remember how many jobs he’d had? Home boy went from being life a salesman to a pastry chef to wanting to switch to education all within the span of like the year that we were getting a glimpse of him and his life. It’s alright to have hopes and dreams! It’s totally okay to be multi-passionate! But at some point, you do have to make some concrete decisions and start moving forward consistently with those things, especially when it comes to your career and your relationships, you know?
You’re constantly questioning yourself. Oy…I can relate to this one. Maybe you’re not someone who changes their mind all the time…but maybe you are someone that questions the decisions you ultimately do make. This was something that I really struggled with when I was in the midst of my quarter-life crisis and career change. When I finally felt like I’d settled on a course of action or a new career path, I’d find myself asking all the “What if…?” questions. “What if I change my mind?” was always my favorite one. Go figure.
You’re overwhelmed by having too much to do. Sometimes people aren’t constantly bouncing around from one path to the next. Sometimes they’re not questioning the things that they’re doing with their life. Maybe they’re just doing everything! I’ve definitely seen and met these types in my lifetime and at one point, I was one of them as well! Ultimately, I understand the logic. If you can’t decide on a concrete plan of action that you feel certain of, why not just do everything? It sounds good in theory, but it’s a recipe for disaster, burnout, and ultimately overwhelm. These are the people who are involved in a million different clubs, maybe have multiple jobs and just frankly aren’t willing to let anything job. Who are juggling their main job with a side business and trying to write a novel, all while having commitments to their family, friends and significant other and passions of their own. I know…it sounds exhausting just writing it. And that’s exactly what this kind of lifestyle leads to…exhaustion.
You struggle with minor decision making. I’m not talking the big life decisions here like your career, relationships, finances, etc. I’m talking decisions like what movie to see or what brand of cereal to by or what workout to do on Wednesday. If you find yourself struggling with similar minor decisions, you my friend are lacking some serious clarity. But, why would this be an indicator that you’re lacking clarity? Because your brain is burned the eff out! Probably because you’ve been spending so much time ruminating on much larger decisions in your life, whether you realize it or not. Decision fatigue is a real thing and if you’ve exhausted your brain because you lack clarity in some of the bigger parts of your life, that’s going to bleed over into the little decisions, too.
You are chronically disorganized, distracted and lethargic. This is definitely related to the last one, but this time I’m not talking about decision making. In the same manner that you can exhaust your brain because of decision fatigue, you can exhaust your body. When we’re constantly analyzing, ruminating, changing our mind and questioning our decisions, even if it’s happening pretty subconsciously, that shit is exhausting to our body. I think traveling is a good example of that. When we’re traveling, we’re often not physically taxing ourselves much. Road trips? We’re sitting. Flights? Sitting. It’s not THAT physically taxing. And yes, I don’t know about you, but I find myself freaking exhausted at the end of the day. That’s because we’re on high alert making decisions, small or not, about our travels, proactively trying to overcome and anticipate problems and obstacles and trying to deal with environments that are foreign to us. And it’s exhausting. When you’re lacking clarity, you’re doing the same thing to your body and mind.
You constantly feel anxious, overwhelmed, stressed, frustrated and confused. When you’re lacking clarity, you never feel settled or certain. There’s no clear path or plan because you’re making changes so frequently and, because of those changes, you can never relax. This lack of clarity is unsettling and we manifest that as stress, anxiety, overwhelm and confusion. It’s normal to feel these things periodically because nothing in life is certain and changes and challenges will always arrive. But if you’re someone who lacks clarity, these changes are happening even more frequently and they’re self-imposed, which leads to this vicious cycle of frustration with yourself or your situation, making more changes, and then your ultimate response to those changes. It can get ugly.
You rely on your inner pollster. This is my favorite. I didn’t even realize that this was something that is linked to a lack of clarity until I was reading the work of Brene Brown (she’s amazing. Read her work if you haven’t!). At some points in our life and in our journey, we either get sick of trying to make decisions or we just don’t trust ourselves to make said decisions. At this point, we turn to others. This isn’t a bad thing. Getting input from other people - coaches, mentors, therapists, friends, etc. - can be important in leading to a decision. But too often, we put the decision completely into the hands of others and that can be a problem.
Now that we’ve chatted about some of the signs…
How do you overcome a lack of clarity?
You may not want to hear this, but it’s going to require some work. Some of which might be easy, and some of which might be pretty difficult inner work that’s going to take some time. But ultimately, the biggest things you’re going to have to do is dig into you and what you want out of your life and your career. Here are some good places to start…
Take a personality assessment. And now I’m not talking about the “What Disney princess are you?” quizzes on Buzzfeed or any of that. I’m talking a real-deal personality quiz. I love the Meyers-Briggs, particularly the assessment from 16Personalities. Not only does their test tell you your personality type based on 4 dichotomous factors - introvert/extrovert, intuition/sensing, thinking/feeling, and perceiving/judging - but the test also gives you interesting and often insightful information on what your strengths/weaknesses are, how you operate in romantic relationships, friendships, and what types of careers they gravitate toward and succeed at. It’s fascinating and insightful. Another such test that I found enlightening during my journey was the Enneagram. Check it out here. These are just some examples and though I don’t think that personality assessments are the end all be all of the overcoming a lack of clarity, I do think they’re incredibly helpful in getting insights on who we are.
Dig into your values. Our values dictate so much of our beliefs and ultimately our behaviors, including how we interact with others, what offends us and what does not, and what we find meaning in in terms of our work and our passions and pursuits. Getting clear on your values is incredibly empowering! How do we go about doing that? Well, it takes some guess and check, but a good place to start is to sit down with a journal or pen and paper and think back on instances in your life where you’ve really taken a stance on something or found yourself passionately advocating for something. What values could be used to describe that thing? Honest? Trust? Adventure? Freedom? Authenticity? Integrity? Those are just a handful of values. If you want to get some ideas, just Google “Personal Values” and you’ll find lists and lists of values.
Start dreaming of your PERFECT Future. One of the best ways to get clear in your life is to get creative. Let yourself sit down and just start imagining what your perfect life looks like. Where are you living? Maybe you can’t say a city, but what does it look like? What environment are you living in? House? Apartment? What is the scenery? Does anyone live in the house with you? Who? What are those relationships like? What about your family? What about your health? What about your friends? What hobbies do you engage in ideally? What about your career? Maybe you can’t envision what kind of work you do specifically, but how do you feel about the work you’re doing? Are there any specific activities you see yourself engaging in? I want you to use these questions as prompts and start thinking about what your perfect future looks like. If you can’t paint the entire picture, just start by envisioning your perfect day. Start with a weekend if you must and then pain a picture of your perfect week day. This might be harder for some than it is for others. But keep at it!