Over 25 years ago Renee decided that she was really bad at making decisions. Someone told her that once, and she believed it to be true.
She spent the next two decades telling herself that over and over. Her friends gave her a hard time when she stalled between choice A and B, and she played along with the jokes playing her role as “the girl who can’t decide.”
Renee came to me because she was stuck in the land of indecision. It’s a torturous place to live. I know, because I used to live there too.
She would teeter from this option to that one, none of them feeling quite right. Riddled with emotion she stayed inactive and miserable. She was mad at herself that she didn’t know what to do or when to do it.
Renee wasn’t deciding what ice cream flavor to have, she was in the process of deciding (or not deciding) if she was leaving or staying in her 18-year marriage. This was no easy choice. There were three kids, properties, finances, and long term commitments involved.
When I asked Renee what she most wanted to get out of our work she said, “Clarity and confidence in decision making.” I nodded. Yup.
Don’t we all want that?
What I discovered in working with Renee, that I hadn’t fully noticed before, is that we all have unique ways, styles perhaps, of finding clarity. There is no one right way to make a choice, just like there is not one way to be spiritually fulfilled.
You might use different styles of finding clarity for different situations. They are all valuable. Notice which style you’re most drawn to at this point in your life when you’re seeking clarity. Just like knowing your strengths better helps you fully utilize them, knowing your clarity style means you can make decisions with more ease and confidence.
Before you can uncover your clarity style, you need to first define what clarity means to you.
Clarity for Renee is “That feeling when it just clicks, when I’m certain and I know what to do and do it.” For me it’s a sense of peace that washes over me. Before I make a decision there’s a lot of emotional and mental chaos. Picture a choppy ocean with swelling waves… and I’m a little tiny boat getting tossed around out there. When I have clarity the waves calm and my boat settles and can redirect its course and move onward.
What does clarity mean to you? What does it feel like? Look like?
Once you know that you’ll know how to get to that feeling or place. Here are 6 distinct styles of finding clarity. See which one (or two) resonate most with you.
- Space. Sometimes when we’re making a decision or plan we’re so deeply immersed in it that we lose perspective. If space is your clarity style, you get what you need by stepping back. By getting outside of the problem or decision you can see it from multiple angles. This holistic viewpoint gives you what you need to dive back in and take action accordingly. If your clarity style is space try taking a walk, sleeping on it, and taking breaks when you’re stressed about a decision. If it’s a really tough one maybe even take a vacation, when you get back you might have the clarity you need.
- Movement. Like Renee, many of us feel stuck or paralyzed when we have to make a big decision. Get things moving to get back in your flow. Sometimes physical movement can unstick some of what is getting blocked in the mind or heart. If movement is your clarity style you’ll likely enjoy running, swimming, dancing, yoga, or working out to get the inspiration and guidance you need. Get active and the clarity you crave will find you while your body is in motion.
- Meditation. Prayer is the act of asking, meditation is the art of listening. We often have the answers we need deep inside of us but don’t have access to them. With all the chaos going on in our heart and chatter in our heads we miss hearing the messages we most need to hear. Quiet, stillness, and the act of listening could be all you need. If this is your clarity style you’ll want to create sacred time to tune in and listening through meditation. That doesn’t have to look like sitting on top of a mountain in an orange robe. Simply quiet your outer world for a moment so you can gaze into your inner world and gather information there. If you’re a meditation beginner try a guided meditation track to lead you.
- Action. My coach Kristen Domingue constantly reminds me that clarity comes from action. When you sit mulling over paths A, B, X, and Y you can’t possibly know what works best, because you haven’t tried implementing it yet. This option works best for the bold and for those who are flexible enough to shift gears when needed. When you take action you’ll get information and clarity from every angle: your mind, body, heart, and others. Once you dive in you’ll know if it feels off or spot on. Obviously this works best for choices you have the freedom to change or shift (ex: don’t take action on having a baby to see how you feel about it if you’re not sure you want children). If this is your clarity style give yourself permission to jump in and go for it even if you don’t know how it will all unfold (since we never know that anyway).
- Conversation. Sometimes saying things out loud brings clarity and confidence. When your decision process is a lot of your own thoughts swirling around in your head it can get really confusing. You can go round and round in circles debating the pros and cons of this and that until you exhaust yourself. Getting in conversation might be just what you need. If this is your clarity style you’d want to have a few go-to loved ones, or maybe a coach or therapist, in your life that you can call upon. These individuals will give you the space to express what you’re feeling and thinking, as well as act as a sounding board. Hearing that you’re not crazy and that at least one other human on the planet supports your choice could be just what you need to move forward!
- Time. Tick tock… the pressure looms when you need to make a choice but haven’t yet. Sometimes what you need is just a bit more time. If you really don’t know what to do it’s entirely possible that you don’t have what you need to make a holistic decision at this point. Time can reveal so much. More information can be laid on the table. Something you missed can reveal itself. Someone can come into the picture and influence how you feel. You yourself can change and evolve to the point where you feel ready simply because of who you are at that point, with a different level of consciousness. If this is your clarity style, give yourself the gift of time. If you have a hard deadline (let’s say a job offer), try taking the pressure off a little by believing you have the exact amount of time you need to choose.
Quick note on this one: if time is NOT your clarity style this route will actually make things harder for you. If you procrastinate and just keep giving yourself more time, you’re really just torturing yourself by staying in the land of indecision longer than you need to.
My clarity style is meditation and conversation, in that order. I first need to tune in and get divine guidance, and then I need supportive sounding boards to bounce that insight off. When I need clarity I know I can usually count on these two routes to get what I need to make a confident decision and take action.
I can’t talk about clarity without reminding you that it is okay to say, “I don’t know” sometimes. It’s normal, beautiful even, to wander feeling a little lost. If we had 100% clarity all the time we’d miss out on exploration, inner and outer. The journey from confusion to clarity, questions to answers (and sometimes back to questions), is one worth taking.
The next time you lack clarity, revel in it. That is a beautiful place to be. We suffer when we judge ourselves for not being sure or clear. You’re not going to feel 100% certain all the time. If you do, I bet your life is, well, a little boring.
Clarity doesn’t mean you won’t be afraid. Sometimes you’ll be super clear and know what to do, and it will still be hard to take action. Every choice means you’re not choosing something else. Be at peace with that.
Do you have a decision to make? Experiment this week with these 6 styles of finding clarity and see what works best for you. Comment below and let me know what your clarity style is! Or if you have another way your find clarity, share it with us below so we can all try it out.