Sometimes coaching clients come to me with very specific goals: Ideas they’ve had on the back burner too long, new possibilities they’ve just discovered, areas that showed up in their latest performance review. We can establish their steps, create their success plan, and make it happen.
Often, however, clients come with less clarity than that. “I don’t know what I want,” I’ll hear them say, “I just know it’s something different.”
“What do you want?” seems like a simple enough question, though it can be anything but. If you struggle to answer it, you’re not alone.
So what gets in the way of this clarity?
Any number of things. Maybe you’ve held the same roles and responsibilities for years and can’t quite imagine alternatives. Maybe you’ve felt continually pressed for time without a chance to really think about the next chapter. Maybe you’ve experienced some big changes and things look different than you once expected.
Maybe it’s for an altogether different reason.
And maybe deep down you know the what, you just have no idea how.
A Different Question
I’ve long said the quality of our answers depends on the quality of our questions. If we’re constantly asking, “Why can’t I figure this out?”, for example, we’ll probably continue to come up with reasons that keep us stuck – but not generate anything to move us forward.
And if you’re already feeling overwhelmed, stressed, or time-crunched, the difficulty in envisioning future possibilities – as well as trying to predict all the potential outcomes and what if’s of those possibilities – can be enough to put it all in a mental file drawer marked ‘Figure Out Later.’
If you’re craving clarity for your future, and questions like “What do you want?” and “What would you do if you could do anything?” aren’t quite cutting it, let me pose a different question and see if it prompts any insight for you:
What would you do if you didn’t have to figure out how?
The What and The How
When dreaming, goal-setting, or trying to imagine a clear, bright, vivid future, we can catch a glimpse of an idea – then immediately follow it with “But how would I ever make it happen?”
We quiet the possibility before giving ourselves a chance to really consider it.
And we often do this without even noticing or realizing it.
If you’re spinning in circles as you try to envision your ideal future, whether that’s your ten-years-from-now future or end-of-2023 future or even by-next-month future, try asking that question:
What would I do if I didn’t have to figure out how?
Ponder it while out on a walk, in a quiet moment, or – my personal go-to – in a Breakthrough Map format in your journal. See if removing the second part of the equation – the how – frees up any new ideas on the what.
“But I’ll still have to figure out the how,” you might be thinking. True. But in my experience, the how typically becomes much easier when we are crystal-clear on the what. We’re better able to break it down into steps, seek out support and resources, find others who strive for something similar.
And it can feel much more energizing to move toward a clear picture of possibility than to spin in indecision and ‘Yeah but…’ scenarios.
There are other questions and exercises that can bring about clarity, of course, and my role as a professional coach is to help you get unstuck, clear, and moving toward your picture of meaningful success. If you’d like to experience the power of coaching this summer, email me and we can discuss possibilities! Even a single, focused coaching session can prompt the clarity you’ve been seeking.
Here’s to your clear, confident, purposeful future!