Gaining clarityPosted: January 6, 2019
One of the things I love about January is I get to start anew. Of course, I bring my old 2018 self into the mix, but I have twelve new months to create just about anything.
In order to decide what I want to do or give or try or travel to, I need to take time beforehand to gain clarity. There are almost limitless opportunities, so it helps if you can stop for a second and get really clear about what’s next for you in the upcoming year.
Here are five of my favorite ways to gain clarity.
Writing. Journalling is the single best way for me to figure out what I think and feel and, consequently, want for the year ahead. It so happens I’m in good company.
Joan Didion said, “I don’t know what I think until I write it down.” Stephen King said, “I write to find out what I think.” And, just in case you’re not convinced, Flannery O’Connor said it too, “I write because I don’t know what I think until I read what I say.”
Granted all of these people are famous writers, but the spirit of their words is true for all of us. And if you’re not into writing or journalling, read on.
Decluttering. Decluttering is a wonderful cathartic practice that allows us to see what remains as a way to understand what’s important. In Marie Kondo’s best-selling book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, she implores readers to keep only what sparks joy and let go of the rest. How lovely. She also has a killer method for folding clothing that has changed my drawers forever.
There have been dozens of books and hundreds of articles written on decluttering. Any of them can help, so I won’t spend time on detailing out all the methods. My favorite is to take everything you own and put it into four piles – keep, donate, sell, and toss. Then go for it. Start with the easy stuff like clothing and work your way up to tougher things like gifts or heirlooms.
In my experience going minimalist, every time I give, donate, sell or toss something, a little space opens up in my mind. In this space, I have more freedom for creativity and, you guessed it, clarity to focus on the meaningful stuff.
Praying. I pray a lot. Before meals, before a big meeting or work call, before I buy or sell something expensive and sometimes something cheap. If you ask, you shall receive. And I believe it. Ask for clarity in your prayers. Ask for guidance and perspective. Not in an oh, God, whoa is me, please help me, boo hoo hoo. Or as Wayne and Garth might say, We’re not worthy.
In all seriousness, ask in earnest and humility, as if you expect a response. Keep at it until it becomes clear.
Meditating. Some people say praying is talking to God and meditating is listening. I’m not sure about that exactly, but meditating is wonderful. The stillness and presence of being in meditation is special.
When I first started, a laundry list of to do’s would flood my brain. I’d think, wow, this is great, look how productive I’m going to be with all these things I need to do. Little did I know that it was my brain trying to bolster its importance (and you are important, brain) and sabotage my meditation. Thoughts will come, just let them come and let them go. No judgments.
The goal of meditation is to be present, watch (so to speak) your breath, and commune with all that is in the present moment. That is all. If you hear God, lucky you.
Reading. I’m not talking about picking up a good Stephen King book, but I wouldn’t begrudge or fault anyone for such an enjoyment. He’s the master of storytelling and I love his books.
But, today I’m talking about reading a couple, or even one, really good self help or inspirational (nonfiction) book. Whatever you might be drawn to or want to improve in yourself, pick up a book or three and get to work.
Read to understand and learn and to (most importantly) take action based on what you learned. A good book will give us ideas that might have been swirling in the ether above our heads, but once we read them – bam! – one lands on us. Hopefully gently.
Those are my five favorite ways of getting clear about what I want for the year ahead and beyond.