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In business, as with all of the most important parts of life, sometimes it’s difficult to know what to do when faced with a challenging situation. Your usual guides and helpers – your mind, gut, intuition, faith, environment, peers, mentors, family, study resources, etc, don’t always point out a clear direction.
Sometimes what you come to rely upon may contradict what another source of feedback is telling you. For example your mind might say one thing, your feelings say something else, and the raw data points to another direction entirely.
Finding clarity is of utmost importance, but as with most things in life that are important to us, with so many variables at play – way too many to even contemplate let alone actually practice – figuring out what’s really important may not appear like a decision you can make in confidence.
One of the biggest pitfalls I’ve seen many people fall into is coming at a decision from a situation of scarcity. If you have no money then you are “forced” to make decisions that may not be exactly what you want, but because of the desperation you feel, you act in haste, or perhaps the opposite, you fail to act.
Scarcity is a challenge because often the outside would so clearly demonstrates your lack of something you can’t help but feel that way all the time. If you’re in debt, or you see things you want but can’t have, or you have to go to places you don’t want to go to because you feel you have no choice, you will find yourself falling more and more into scarcity decision making. That in itself can be enough to kill any potential you have to change.
While I truly believe scarcity is a mindset that can be changed entirely by adjusting how you perceive the world, I understand that simply using that as a mantra to convince yourself that you don’t need certain things or you already have enough, isn’t always going to help you. If you don’t have food or can’t pay you’re rent, belief that you are okay alone isn’t enough.
One of the important decisions you can make, regardless of what your current situation is today, is what situation you want to be in instead of what is now. This shouldn’t be a fuzzy change, it needs to be tangible and specific, and you need to understand either how to get there, or at least where are the resources to learn from that can teach you how to get there.
For example, if you don’t like your job, deciding how much money you need to live off so you can quit is important. You also need to know what sort of options are available to you to help make money and what criteria you will use to decide which is the best option.
Here’s a process you can go through to help you move towards changing any aspect of your life you are not happy with –
Step 1: Identify what you want to change focusing on tangible and specific outcomes.
Step 2: Identify options to make that change. Try and limit this to options that reflect advantages you currently have, either because of your current skill base or your connections and access to resources.
Step 3: Determine which option you will focus on for your first experiment.
Step 4: Take action to begin the creation of that change in your physical environment.
Step 5: Assess results at set intervals ensuring you measure effort against reward (and effort has to be real and tangible too – this is not just thinking what you could do, this is actually doing it).
Step 6: Determine if enough signs of progress are present for you to continue, if not repeat the steps.
The steps above are simple and I suspect after reading them you feel at least a little bit clearer about your own direction. As you read those steps you likely think about something in your life you want to change, which you then attempt to turn into tangible and specific outcomes. If you can do that, you then think about what options are in front of you and continue to move through the steps.
Even just playing over that process in your head is enough to feel a little better, a little bit more in control and give you a sense of purpose. That’s good, and you should keep following that path because the movement helps you get somewhere. It may not be end up quite where you want to be, but it’s much better than sitting still and ruminating over what you don’t have or how you feel trapped, or any other limiting beliefs.
The most powerful aspect of going through a process like this to realize change, is that it forces you to commit to a direction that doesn’t depend on you feeling a sense of harmony. You don’t need to feel 100% right about what you are doing, you don’t need to know the exact path you are going to take and you don’t need be certain you have even made the right choice. The important thing is that you begin the process and see it through, that’s the only way you will begin to gain clarity.
If you have faith in the process and do it despite fear or doubt about what might happen or how you even feel in a given moment, then you are making progress.
You may have noticed in many situations simple works. You may not see something as simple, but there is always a way to make something into a simple choice or a simple process. Of course simplicity means you have to omit some things, but that’s why it is powerful. Simplicity leads to focus and focus leads to action.
I’ve noticed in my own life when I focus on what simple fundamentals are most important and do my best to discard what doesn’t help me in a given situation, even if it has some relevancy, I can relax and just enjoy the process of discovery and change. If I attempt to assimilate all the potential variables and account for everything I, well, crash. Information overload is a real problem, especially when all the information is relevant on some level. Your ability to decide what are the fundamentals and act on those and those alone, is the key to success.
Remember to ask yourself when faced with a difficult situation or a desire to change, what is the simplest path forward? What do you really want and what are the most important variables? If you can identify those and keep them in focus, the rest will eventually fade away into irrelevance because you will have what you want, or at least be moving towards it.
P.S. If you are interested in a much more in-depth look at how to create positive change in your life, I recommend you read my positive change series starting with part one here –