5 Habits for clarity

Finding Focus and Clarity in 2021

Clarity breeds creativity and productivity. Clarity is the gateway to a thriving life.

As we step further into 2021, we believe that clarity is what’s going to bridge the gap between where we are where we want to be.

Why? Because clarity and focus are the key ingredients to achieving your goals and seeing your dreams become reality.

“But wait… what if I don’t even know what my goals are? What if everything I’m going after seems to lead me down the path of epic failure? What if I have so many dreams, ideas, plans, and can’t make sense of any of them so I find myself not making any progress?”

If any of the above thoughts are going through your mind, rest assured, you are not alone. 

I have lived in the hurry of busyness that leads to nowhere and have felt the pressure to “succeed” when I didn’t even know how to define success. 

The good news? Success isn’t a black and white answer. Your definition of success is YOURS and has everything to do with your gifts, talents, passions, motivations, and inspirations. 

Your success has nothing to do with others. Period.

Take a deep breath. Inhale and realize that you have purpose. Exhale and commit to being open-minded about your journey.  

Your Success has nothing to do with others
Your Success has nothing to do with others

Life is not all buttoned-up and tidy like we wish it was sometimes. We aren’t handed a perfectly outlined document that maps out our steps and a five point plan to ultimate success. Letting go of having a perfect plan or having to know the next ten steps in your life is a gift you can give yourself; it’s your first step toward a thriving life.

Once you’ve done that, you’re ready to do the hard work of embracing clarity.

Three Benefits of Clarity.

Before we unpack clarity and how to grab hold of it, let’s identify three ways that CLARITY is going to help you THRIVE.

1: Clarity will help you identify your goals

Let’s face it – even those of us who think we know what we want often change our minds or realize that maybe what we thought we wanted isn’t what we want after all. 

You are allowed to change your mind

First of all, it’s okay to change your mind. That’s right. Seasons come and go, relationships come and go, and with the ebb and flow of life, your dreams and plans are going to adapt… shift… mold.

In fact, if you are in the middle of your college career (or somewhere right around it), it’s very likely that what you choose to do right now will change 5, or even 10 years from now. Or maybe you’ve identified your ultimate dream job, but the journey that gets you there is going to look very different than you can even begin to imagine. That’s okay. In fact, it’s a good thing.

Every person, experience, and scenario you face – whether planned or unplanned – is an opportunity to grow. Even the unwelcome ones we wish never happened will ultimately be bookmarks you can someday look back on and say, “wow, I really learned a lot from that experience.”

Sometimes what we learn is how to be or do better next time. Sometimes, we learn what not to do or say. Some of these lessons are more difficult than others, but they are lessons nonetheless. And if you can learn to be a student of life, you’ll continue to thrive no matter where life takes you. 

2: Clarity will help you create a plan to support your goals

So many of us are busy, busy, busy making all the plans in the world. BUT, if you’re not clear on your purpose, goals, and vision, it’s possible that your plans will become a hindrance rather than a stepping stone. This is where clarity becomes so important.

There will inevitably be many distractions in this life. Some are unavoidable while others show up in the form of “very important tasks that have to get done.” Being able to create a roadmap that supports your goals and vision for the future will help you to be able to achieve what you set out to achieve.

Think about it. If I set a goal to run a marathon, I know that running, cross training, and diet are essential elements to seeing this through. So now that I have a clear goal, I need to set a clear plan to help me accomplish it, knowing full well that there will be hurdles along the way.

So I create a plan, embark on the journey, and then one day life happens and I have a really busy day at work. I’m asked to stay late and that 10 miles I was planning on running isn’t going to happen. But that’s okay because I can swap it for one of my rest days on the weekend. 

When you have a plan, the unexpected roadblocks don’t have to derail the whole thing and we can learn to adjust to our circumstances and still make progress along the way.

The point is to have a clear goal first and then create a plan that supports it.

3: Clarity will help you stick to the plan and avoid distractions that disguise themselves as accomplishments.

Maybe this is you. Maybe you have real goals and your eyes are on the prize. You are driven and you’ve learned how to get stuff done. You’ve gotten really good at creating plans – the shiny, sparkly kind that put online calendars to shame. Your plans are colorful and organized – maybe even labeled perfectly on your big, block calendar that sits in front of you in your home office.

But sometimes you get distracted. Your middle schooler has a report due and your 2nd grader ran out of paper for her craft projects. Or maybe you’ve been scrolling instagram and that new keto plan your friends are doing sounds interesting enough to take you on a Google search tangent. You look down and notice the frey in your jeans is getting worse, so you pull up another tab so you can see if your favorite store is having a denim sale. 

Before you know it, you’ve completed 10 additional things AND you were even able to finish all the laundry. At the end of the day you feel accomplished because you’ve been able to check off all kinds of things. And sure, you’re really busy, and you’re getting stuff done, but is all that stuff supporting your goal? How much time was robbed from what you really meant to do? Have you taken your most valuable commodity – your time – and used it efficiently and effectively?

It’s easy to get distracted – especially with things that are ultimately necessary. It’s also easy to get distracted by things that are fun, like Netflix, social media, online shopping, or an ongoing text session with your bestie. But if you want to make the most of your time, move forward and actually achieve what you set out to do – and truly thrive – you’re going to have to protect yourself from these time-sucking tasks that aren’t supporting the life you’re wanting to live. 

Clarity will help show you how to identify plans and tasks that actually support your goals and teach you how to better prioritize and manage your time.

How to Turn Down the Noise and Find Clarity

We probably didn’t need to convince you how important clarity is because we all need more of it if we want to step into our brave, beautiful plans and see our goals become reality.

BUT HOW? That’s the biggest question of all. 

The truth is, only you can answer this question. But don’t worry… we’ll help you begin to lay the groundwork with FIVE habits for clarity designed to get you on track, turn down the noise, and start experiencing the clarity and focus you need to thrive.

Habit 1: Get Away Mentally and Physically

Not to state the obvious or anything, but maybe you just actually need a minute. Maybe your soul – and your body – need a timeout in the same way your overtired, overstimulated 3-year-old needs an early bed time.

This could look different for each of us, depending on your situation, but here are some ways you can get away:

  • Book a night or two in a local hotel with the purposeful intent to rest, clear your calendar, and focus on the things that fuel your soul.
  • Take a day for yourself. If you have kids, get a sitter or ask your partner to watch the kids and plan a day alone. Consider activities that fill you up or no activities at all. The key is this: less doing, more being.
  • Go for a long hike, run, walk, or anything outdoors and spend that time in prayer or reflection.
  • Grab a spot in your favorite coffee shop, bring your favorite music, a good book, a journal… just be alone for a couple of hours.
  • Have a night in with yourself. Treat it like a date and spend some time reflecting on your future dreams and goals.

It doesn’t have to be fancy, but it should be intentional, so make sure to turn off your notifications and maybe even put your phone away.

The purpose in getting away is to give yourself a mental and physical break from your ongoing responsibilities. This is not a time to get work done, move projects forward, or work on your finances. No, this is a time to sleep in, enjoy delicious meals slowly, choose activities that fill you up and bring you joy, and not do anything in a hurry or under any pressure.

Think it through and plan it out ahead of time – your mind and your body will thank you for it. 

Practice Silence

Silence, conceptually, is almost comical when you have children. Silence is typically a treasure of the rarest kind and when you finally do experience it, it can feel counterproductive. Here’s why…

Even if you don’t have small voices in your home, you have the voices of responsibility that raise their volume anytime you initiate silence. 

You see, it’s in the silence that we actually start hearing the noise going on in the deep spaces of our hearts and minds. 

The “list” in our brains is never ending and filled with to-do’s, commitments, and insecurities we are constantly battling, so we feel pulled in so many directions. 

Silence has a way of bringing all of that to the surface. It’s in the literal silence that we start to weed through the noise of life – the soul-noise that’s shouting within us. It’s in the silence that we’re forced to unpack the real issues because the soul-noise has suddenly been exposed.

I encourage practicing regular silence every morning. Grab your coffee or tea and a journal that can aid in helping you unpack the swirling thoughts running rampant in your brain. We think you’ll find that the practice of getting it all out will actually help lift you up.

When we practice silence, we can find moments of peace in the everyday chaos because we’ve done the hard work of decluttering our souls. 

Falling into the habit of practicing silence takes time, but it’s really a gift that keeps on giving. Just like vitamins for your body, silence has a way of quietly nurturing your soul and opens the doors for clarity to move in.

Say No

Your value is not measured by what you do for others. 

Read that again.

If you struggle with saying no or overcommitting, let me encourage you to do an assessment on your schedule. Grab a notebook and pen or pencil and settle in here for a bit, because this is an exercise you don’t want to miss. 

List out the activities you are committed to and require your attention. This would include everything from your job, your home, your relationships, your church, and everything in between. 

Are you leading or do you attend a group or class at church? Are you attending school or training of any kind? What about your kids? Are you committed to any volunteering? 

How many of these commitments are essential (your job, grocery shopping, etc.) and how many are non-essential? With the commitments that are non-essential, how many of these would you classify as life-giving vs. sucking the life out of you? And which ones are supporting your goals / the goals of your family, and which ones are just keeping you busy?

Now it’s time to be completely honest with yourself. What can you cut back on? Where can you trim the fat and give way to margin? You see, it’s in the margin that you’ll begin to breathe again… it’s in the margin that you’ll start to experience the clarity,

Think It Through

Have you ever analyzed the way you process and make decisions? Some of us are more decisive than others. It wasn’t until my 30’s that I really started to learn the art of thinking through my decisions. 

To clarify, thinking it through does not mean ‘obsess over’ or ‘analyze to death’. 

Some decisions require in-the-moment responses while others allow for time to consider the options. You will need to be the judge of that, but ultimately, all decisions should be well-considered and thought-out. 

Do you tend to react to things instead of being thoughtful about your responses? If so, we encourage you to be mindful of this tendency and start thinking things through more intentionally. 

The power of consideration often sheds light on angles and outcomes we never realized existed, simply because we didn’t take the time to think it through. But when we take the time to step back and assess what’s really going on, we give ourselves plenty of time to feel different emotions and formulate responses that are mindful rather than fear-driven. This way of reasoning gives way to clarity.

Be Present

Some of us are so distracted by the internal and external noise that we find it impossible to actually be present in the moment. How many times are you with someone else but thinking about something else like the laundry, the bills, that comment a coworker said, the fact that your jeans feel a little tight today…?

Have you ever had a phone call with someone or been face-to-face and knew without a doubt that that person was distracted by something else; they were there, but not actually there? Has that ever been you?

What if the practice of silence, saying no, thinking it through, and taking time away for yourself on a regular basis were all small ways of becoming a fuller, healthier you? 

You were not meant to be tired, worn-out, and stressed all of the time.

you were meant to thrive
you were meant to thrive

Think about it. You want to live life to the fullest – you want to thrive professionally and personally, which means you want to get the most out of life. Sometimes in our intent to experience life, we become overwhelmed in the doing and forget how to live fully present in the moment. In order to do that, we have to strip away the clutter so we can step fully into the present – into who we’re meant to be. 

It’s Time For You to Flourish

Stop missing out on the joy you have access to right now. Your purpose started the day you were born, which means you can be living fully into it each and every day. When you realize that, life then becomes less about the destination and more about enjoying the beautiful journey. 

When you start experiencing clarity on the journey, you begin to flourish each and every day.

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