5 THINGS THAT PREVENT CLARITY
Last week's thoughts on decision-making have led onto this week's thoughts on clarity - although arguably, they're much the same thing. Clarity is the quality I constantly seek to cultivate; the state of being I uphold the most. But the more I contemplate clarity, the more I realise that chasing it is essentially a case of chasing your own tail: We already have all the tools to get clear about what we want out of work and life; we just need to stay aware of a few stumbling blocks along the way...
Fundamentally, I believe that clarity - like happiness - is a choice. By perpetuating an eternal mindset of confusion, we are essentially deflecting responsibility. But why would anyone choose to feel unclear if feeling clear was simply a matter of choice? Well, lots of reasons (some of which I’ve explored below), most of which boil down to one fact: most of us don't want to accept that clarity is our job, and our job only. Alas, life isn't going to give us the answers - and nor is Google, your mother, or your therapist. We can seek advice, of course, but clarity is really a responsibility that lies at our own front doors.
Another major hindrance to clarity is confidence - or, more importantly, a lack thereof. If you unpeel your current state of confusion, you’ll probably find a lack of confidence at the base; a lack of trust in your ability to know what’s best for you. Conversely, people who seem very clear about themselves, their goals, and their decisions are usually those who exhibit a lot of confidence and conviction in all areas of life. These people know what they want, and they seem assured in their ability to get it.
All well and good, but what to do if you fall in the former camp? While there are no quick fixes for building confidence, it can helpful to remember that we’re all just human beings, trying to figure this life shit out. If someone seems like they’ve nailed the art of living, it’s likely just because they're either a) really good at faking it, or b) have found the courage to do stuff on their own terms, without being too mindful of what others think. Which brings me to my next point...
Fear works in myriad ways. Often, a lack of clarity is actually a fear-based state in which you're failing to acknowledge what you really want — especially if your true desires go against the status quo of success. We live in an era of immense social pressure to produce high-profile work, to travel relentlessly, to live in an immaculate apartment, and to somehow maintain the physique of an A-list actress at the same time. (Just writing that made me exhausted). This pressure can make us fearful of acknowledging the things we know we truly desire - whether that be fame, or family life on a farm - for fear of failing to meet Instagram's vision of a successful life.
Equally, getting honest about what you want can bring up a fear of process. If you acknowledge that you really want to move to Barcelona, or start a totally new career, you’ll quickly realise that this type of life choice involves sacrifice and a shitload of effort. The more we put off the legwork that will take us towards our ultimate goals, the longer we perpetuate our current state of dissatisfaction.
Sometimes, I feel supremely clear about what I want out of life. Equally often, I’ll find myself back on the hamster wheel of confusion, convinced that I have no idea what I even like. And then I’ll flip open an old notebook or revisit a forgotten file on my laptop, and discover a list of dreams that resonates so much with my present self that I realise I’ve kinda known what I was doing all along. Clarity can be ephemeral in that sense, which is why vision boards are so useful: they serve as a constant visual reminder of your values, on days when that vision feels far away.
Some people respond best to images while others work well with words, but I've realised that it's really important to ‘check in’ with your goals on a regular basis, lest you forget them entirely. Stick a Post-It note on your computer, make a moodboard for your desk, or do as one of my friends does and save your list of goals as the lock screen on your phone. Whatever works for you.
LACK OF FOCUS
We are living in an age of distraction; this much we all know. With the amount of information we process on a daily basis, it’s no wonder that our heads are spinning, and that make clarity seems like a foggy and distant goal.
In order to balance out the amount of crap that clouds our minds, we have to take preventative measures (you know what’s coming, don’t you?) and there’s really only one method that truly works. Yep. Mediation. I know it’s hard to make it habitual because I struggle massively with it myself. But I also know, from personal experience, that nothing is more helpful in cultivating focus and an all-round sense of calm. Try to view ten minutes of meditation as an essential 'brain-cleaning' technique that's as non-negotiable as brushing your teeth, and feel your sense of clarity go from 'public swimming pool on a summer's day' to 'remote lake in the Alps.'