This week we’re talking about clarity of direction as our first in-depth topic. I chose this topic because in recent times I have learnt that having a crystal clear vision of your ideal future is the first and most important step to achieving any goal, as well as the fact that only 3% of the population have goals and write them down regularly. It’s said that 3% of people set goals and write them down, and the other 97% help work towards them. With that being said, do you know what your goals are? What about your ideal life?
The thing is, the concept of clarity of direction applies to business as much as it does to every individual. Apply the concept to your personal life or your business, in whatever time frame and area you want to focus on: it could be your overall life, it could be in your career, it could be in the next 6 months, or 12 months, it could be a goal to do with relationships, or money, or stuff. If you already have an idea of your goals, great, this will help you solidify them, if you don’t, then hopefully this article will give you some new exciting ones!
The Thing About ‘Success’
What does success mean to you? For most people, it is something like this; fancy cars, a big house, tonnes of money and travelling the world in a private jet, or maybe it is an olympic medal or building a huge corporation. Depending on your circumstances, your current version of what success looks like is determined by your childhood influences - your parents, older siblings, teachers, people you see on TV and your peers. From a young age success is an image drilled into us as something we see other people achieve, but never really consider what it means to us.
Do you know what the definition of success actually is? According to the Oxford dictionary, it’s the accomplishment of an aim or purpose. That’s it, two criteria to be successful - set an aim or purpose, and accomplish it. So who sets those aims or purposes? In a job, it’s your boss, in a team, it’s your coach, but what about your entire life? Who decides what your ultimate end goal or purpose should be, or the directions you take throughout the course of your life?
This is the thing about success: it’s subjective. You choose your aims, you choose your purpose and you choose what your version of ultra success looks like! Not your parents, not your peers, not some guy you see on Instagram flashing some cash in front of a Lambo he’s hired for the hour.
Your boss may choose your KPI’s, but you choose whether that job aligns with your greater goal; if you want to earn $100,000 per year so you can afford to buy a nice home for your new family, then you aim for those KPI’s. If going to the Olympics is your version of success, you must listen to your coaches and hit those performance KPI’s. Sport or business it’s the same deal, you choose whether it aligns with your ultimate goal, you just have to know what that is.
Success is whatever you want to be, and that is an important first step to moving towards clarity - taking responsibility for your goals.
The Thing About Your Life
Before we go further, a harsh reality but a point I want to make about the importance of being super clear on what YOU want for your life: no matter what religion you follow or belief you have about death, we can all agree on this; whatever happens after your life is over, you do not come back as who you are right now, in this universe. No one has ever come back to their exact same life, with the chance to do it all over again, so find those opportunities and make the most of this life that you are in right now! Don’t live someone else's life or pursue someone else’s ideal, live for yours.
The Thing About Clarity
Imagine you’ve been blindfolded and taken into a large room, you’re told that there is a target somewhere on the other side of the room, somewhere between 10 and 30 metres away, you are given a supply of darts and told to hit the target. What are the chances you will hit the target? Next to nothing, of course. So now ask, how do you achieve anything in life if you don’t know what you are aiming for?
Now imagine you are 1 metre away from a target, you know exactly what it looks like, what it feels like, and because you knew the target was to hit a target, you became a master of dart throwing. What are the chances of hitting that target now? This is the power of clarity.
It may sound oversimplified, but it really is that simple - remember that success is simply the accomplishment of an aim or purpose, and remember that you are the one who chooses.
The Action Steps to Clarity
Clarity in our context of direction is defined as being the vividness of an image or sound, and that’s what goal-setting is about - the more vivid you can make the picture in your head of what your goal is; what it looks like, what it feels like, what it makes you feel, the more clear the steps and milestones towards that goal become. I’m not going to get into the law of attraction or energy vibration, I understand that’s not for everyone, but goal-setting should be, and knowing how it will make you feel when you achieve success is a powerful motivator for action that everyone should find out for themselves.
Getting crystal clear about your ideal life or your periodic goals takes 4 steps; Decide, write it down, make a list, and finally, make a plan.
Step One: Decide
This one is taken from investing mogul Warren Buffet; write down 25 goals you want to achieve, then pick the top 5 - you are only going to focus on the top 5 that matter the most to you, the rest are just a distraction. This a thought activity where you have the freedom to choose anything you want! You are not restricted by your beliefs of what is possible for you, or by the thoughts of ‘how’. This first step is not about what’s possible, or how to get it, it is purely about want. What do you want most?
Whether you knew your goals before this article or you’ve just figured out what your most important ones are, this next step is for all of us.
Step Two: Write it Down
Details are the most important thing in this step. Pick your number one goal, and start describing it. Depending on what it is you want to achieve, here are some things you should be describing: what you look like, what the thing looks and feels like, how the thing makes you feel, what your life is like because of this achievement. It doesn’t matter whether it is a business KPI, a financial goal, a material goal, an Olympic goal, or a weight loss goal, details are everything. Do this for each of your most important goals.
Step Three: Make a List
This is a list of everything you would need to do to achieve that goal; all the skills and knowledge you would need to acquire, the habits you would need to form, the milestones along the way, everything. This is where the power of clarity really takes effect: because you know exactly what your end goal looks like, the milestones you need to achieve along the way become obvious. If you were worried about the ‘how’ before, the how is this; do everything on this list. Take your time and think of everything you can do, be thorough.
People who don’t know what to do don’t have a clear enough sense of where they are going. If you know exactly where you are going, if nothing else, the next step is always obvious- want to earn more money; read a book on financial literacy, or learn about investing, or find out how you can earn more money in your current position. You don’t need to know every step, you just need to know two things; the next step, and the final goal.
With clarity of direction, the only question you need to ask when deciding what to do next is ‘what will move me the greatest distance towards my goal?’ It usually lies in the form of weaknesses; a lack of knowledge or skill in a certain area, the greatest weakness in your game in your sport is potentially what is holding you back the most, the habits you have around social media might be your weakness to productivity. Everyone has weaknesses, and everyone certainly has areas for improvement, the thing about clarity of direction, is that it tells you which ones matter most - that which moves you the greatest distance towards your end goal.
Step Four: Make a Plan
Okay, so you know where you are going, what you want to achieve, and the milestones you need to achieve along the way. Now it’s time to make a plan. If you learnt how to set goals in school and recognise SMART, then this is what you have done so far: you have been extremely specific in the details in step 2, which also made the measurements clear, you have made it attainable because you have recognised all the milestones you need to get there, and they are definitely relevant because they are about what you want, now we give it a time frame.
Now depending on your situation and whether you have gone through this article as a small business owner, or someone who already knows their time frame, or you are setting out life-long goals for the first time, you will go one of two ways. Firstly, for some of you, your end goal might have an easily identifiable due date: an assignment that is due, an Olympics to prepare for, a business KPI that must be met. For you, the time frame is easily set.
For those of you setting lifelong goals, I encourage you not to set a time frame. I’m going against all popular goal-setting methodology because the biggest goals you want to achieve in your life are big enough as they are, I don’t believe the added pressure of a 5 or 10 year timeframe is necessary. I believe you just have to know where you want to end up and know the next milestone you need to achieve to move closer.
Your biggest goals should be exciting, not daunting! They should motivate the hell out of you! Every day you should write down your end goal, and the milestone you are working on today to achieve it, get excited, then get to work, and that’s it. Setting a timeframe on a massive goal that doesn’t have a time frame set for you only encourages fear, and I don’t want fear to paralyse you from taking action.
BUT. Milestones must have time frames. No matter if the end goal time frame is set for you or not, each time you pick a milestone, there must be a time frame attached.
If the milestone is bigger than thirty days, you need to break it down further, you don’t need to do it now, but you need to do it once you decide to work on that particular milestone. For example, you want to get super fit to go to the Olympics, so a milestone could be to run 5km’s in 15 minutes and you currently run it in 25 minutes. Safe to say you won’t be able to get to 15 minutes within 30 days, so break that milestone down into baby milestones - 5km in 23 minutes, then 20 minutes, then 17 minutes, you get the idea.
You always want the milestone to be just out of reach, something you can achieve in 30 days or less, otherwise you will get disheartened by the enormity of the effort and length of time necessary to achieve your goal and will more than likely give up, or worse, find something else to pursue because you think the other goal doesn’t matter anymore. Break it down into the most simple and attainable step you can think of every time.
Choose your first milestone, the one that will move you the greatest distance toward your goal, break it down into a time frame less than 30 days, then schedule the time you’re going to work on it. Do this every day and you’ll never forget where you are going, what you are trying to achieve or what you should be doing with your time.
Words on a page can not move you towards your goals, only your behaviours can. But if you don’t know where you’re going, you don’t know how to behave.
The Thing About Lockdown
Finally, I believe that now is the perfect time for everyone, irrespective of their situation, to reflect and think about what they really want. A global pandemic gives a funny perspective on what really matters, and in the end it won’t be toilet paper. What matters is up to you; family, riches, sporting success, fame, corporate empire, the opportunities are endless. You just have to know.
I hope you have gained something from this article, whether it is new goals, a clearer sense of what exactly your goals look like, or a road map of the milestones along the road to your version of success, clarity of direction is vital to success as we now know it.
I really hope you at least consider this concept in your personal and professional life, if not spend time thoroughly going through each step. Put your target right in front of you, with the path clearly illuminated, then walk the baby milestones and achieve your version of success. Decide, write it down, make a list, make a plan, act. Find the skills and knowledge you need, then pursue it with everything you've got.
If you need any help defining your version of success or the milestones along the way, please don’t hesitate to contact me, I would love to be a part of your journey to success, I want to see you all succeed!
Also attached are the books I recommend for goal-setting, as well as those that will help you no matter what your goals are.
I look forward to hearing from you and how you went with the steps in this article.
To your success!