For 20 years now, my business has existed to help people work with meaning, live with purpose, and make their positive difference.
And while I’ve been asked countless brilliant and thoughtful questions over that time, some come up more than others. Here are three that rise to the surface, along with a brief action step for each to help you begin finding your answers.
1. I long for clarity – about my vision for the future, my decisions, even just my next best step – but I just can’t seem to find it. How can I gain more clarity?
This question often stems from one of two places:
Having so many ideas and possibilities that you don’t know where to start, or
feeling so exhausted and overwhelmed that you don’t have the energy to generate new ideas.
But if you have ever experienced clarity – a crystal-clear vision for your future, a shining goal that you’re moving toward, or a focused top priority for the day, for example – you know how that clarity can pull you forward and help all the excess ‘stuff’ and distractions melt away.
Crafting a clear vision is one of the first things we’ll do if you choose to coach with me. In the meantime, I encourage you to first consider how you think best – on paper, while out on a walk, etc. Then, set aside some time and space in that format to focus on this question:
“If I had infinite time, money, energy, and courage, what would I love to do?”
Let your mind roam freely with this question. You might generate possible career paths, hobbies to try, places you’d like to travel, causes you’d love to support, people to collaborate with, and who knows what else.
This is one of the best ways to begin gaining clarity on your vision, as well as clues into your passions and purpose.
Imagining life as if we had no barriers might seem too unrealistic to be helpful. But here’s the thing:
We need to get clear on the WHAT before we start focusing on the HOW.
As it stands, many of us generate a cool idea, immediately follow it with ‘But how would I ever make that happen?’, then dismiss it and feel muddled once again.
Clarity begins with a bit of dreaming. We can weave in the actions, solutions, and the how after that.
2. I feel like I’m spinning my wheels, constantly moving but not actually getting anywhere. How can I get unstuck and start feeling more intentional and fulfilled?
If this question prompts you to picture a hamster in a wheel, or yourself on a treadmill that never stops, you’re in good company. That’s exactly what ‘spinning our wheels’ can feel like! And for achievers, this is especially unpleasant, because we tend to like results, signs of growth/forward movement, and checking things off the list.
And just as if we were on that eternal treadmill, we first need to stop (or at least pause or slow down) so we can then step off and decide, with intention and clarity, which direction and pace we want to go.
One of my favorite ways to do this involves creating a Breakthrough Map. I’ve written about this extensively, such as this article, so I’ll direct you there as a starting point.
Plus, a hint: Your first center circle could hold the question, How can I get unstuck? You might be surprised how many possibilities surface where there previously seemed none, simply by using this tool!
3. What if I don’t know what my core values are? My purpose? My passions?
Often, the question beneath the question here is also a fear:
What if I don’t actually HAVE these things?
Well, first, rest easy in knowing that you do. Even if we’re not clear what our values might be or how to state our purpose, I fully believe each and every one of us has them. The benefit in clarifying them is that we can then intentionally act in favor of them for greater fulfillment, flow, and meaningful success.
Similarly, if you’ve ever experienced feeling ‘off’ but couldn’t exactly pinpoint why, chances are we could trace it back to a value not being honored.
If you want to clarify your core values and write your succinct, customized Purpose Statement, we can do this in a 4-session coaching program – just reach out to my office to get started.
And to begin exploring this question even before we meet, think of a few highlight moments or peak experiences in your life – times when you felt fully alive, engaged, operating at your best, and/or right where you were meant to be. These could include personal and professional, planned (such as achieving a goal) and unplanned (such as you just happened to be sitting next to a person who needed your unique help), public and private.
Then, start to tease them apart and look for patterns. How did you feel in the moment? Why does this particular time stand out for you? How did you prepare and/or proceed through the experience? What strengths did you engage? What did you notice afterwards?
Chances are, reflecting deeply on a few key moments will begin giving you insight into your values, purpose, and what truly matters to you.
But Wait, There’s More!
Actually, there are several other questions that I could include in this list, such as:
How can I do what I love / pursue meaningful work amidst so many life requirements (like needing health insurance, providing for my family, and so on)?
I’m good at starting goals and projects and dreams but tend to lose momentum over time. How can I stay focused and motivated?
What if I am [insert solidly-adult number here] years old and still don’t know what I want to be when I grow up?
I coach people through these questions and more every day, so I encourage you to reach out for a complimentary Discovery Session and see if coaching is right for you. With my flexible new coaching programs, you may find you can answer some seemingly-giant-and-impossible questions in a fairly short time!
Which of these questions do you find yourself asking? What others come to mind when it comes to meaningful work, purposeful lives, and making your difference? Feel free to share others below!