How to Get Clear On What You Want

Get clear on what you want

Alice: Would you tell me please which way I ought to go from here?

Cat: That depends a good deal on where you want to get to.

Alice: I don’t know.

Cat: Then it doesn’t matter which way you go.

― Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland

Determine your goal, create a plan and pursue it with commitment and passion. That’s the key to success or at least that’s what they all say. Sounds simple right?

Well, the problem is for some of us, figuring out what you want just isn’t that straightforward. Whether in our personal or professional lives sometimes that great vision or goal just isn’t that clear. How can we start creating our dream lives when we can’t even decide what it is we want?

Not Knowing What You Want

For many of us, the lack of clarity is not due to lack of desire. We do want to focus. We do want to create a purpose-driven, fulfilling life but our minds are filled with conflicting thoughts:

  • ‘Should I do this or that?’
  • Is this the right thing to do or isn’t it?’
  • ‘What do I want?’ 

Amidst these questions, getting clear on what you want becomes even more challenging.

The problem is in the absence of a clear vision we will probably wander aimlessly through life. It isn’t that we won’t accomplish exciting things, go to interesting places, or even meet fascinating people. The absence of vision doesn’t equal misery – at least I don’t think so. Still, I think that when we’re not an active participant in the design of our lives we run the risk of waking up one day like I did wondering:  ‘Is this really all there is?’

Lack of clarity, the feeling of confusion about what it is I want is something I’ve struggled with in the past. If I’m being totally honest it’s something I deal with even now. What’s worse than being energized and ready with nothing meaningful to go for?

But while reading about someone else’s struggle one idea really struck home. It seems really simple when I think about it now but at the time it just hadn’t occurred to me at least not in that way. As crazy as it sounds lack of clarity is self-inflicted. We are choosing to be confused. Let me explain.

Clarity or Confusion – The Choice is Yours

This idea was probably the biggest revelation for me at the time because I used to think that my confusion was as a result of things happening around me or being done to me. As a result, I kept expecting something outside of myself to fix the problem. If I was patient enough then that magic solution would eventually show up. What I realized was that the solution had to come from the inside out. At some level I was creating this confusion, my lack of clarity was actually a choice I was making.

Now what’s funny is I know better. Intellectually, I know that it’s not the event but our interpretation of the event and what we do as a result that matters. Yet I didn’t associate that with those thoughts racing around my head. For some reason, it never occurred to me that the same rules applied. I soon discovered that the confusion was all a smokescreen. My mind was what was creating the problem.

If we assume (as I believe) for a moment that deep down we know exactly what we want, then the confusion is really a drama created by our minds that drown out that knowledge. It is as a result of conflicting thoughts and ideas running through our minds. The problem is we get caught up in each of these thoughts as if they warrant our attention. We invest time and energy into them. The result is a muddled mind.

Think of your confusion as a storm raging on the surface of the ocean. Looking down from above it seems wild and turbulent. However, dive beneath and it’s wonderfully calm. That calm is the clarity that was always there.

Once I understood that I was the one choosing to engage in the stories my mind was creating, I realized that I was also the one responsible for disengaging from them. Detach from the drama and immediately a different choice was possible. Deep down confusion was really fear of making the wrong choice.

Amazingly, once I made a different choice and chose a definite path, clarity followed. It didn’t even seem to matter what I had decided to do – my commitment to a course of action was what was needed.

Choosing Clarity: Getting Clear On What You Want

As real as the confusion seems while we’re going through it, it really is an illusion of the mind. An illusion comprising so many stories all competing for attention and space at the same time. These stories are just alternative perspectives and not necessarily reflective of reality. Once we take full responsibility for what’s going on in our heads we can start to discern our true voice from the noise in our heads.

We don’t wait for clarity, we choose it with the belief that we know exactly what we want. We make a decision and take action in line with that. The rest will naturally follow.

If you are ever in a situation where you feel utterly confused I encourage you to look beyond the muddle in your mind. Don’t let fear of making the wrong choice, which is essentially what the confusion is all about, keep you from making any choice. Don’t let the fear of committing to a course of action keep you in a muddle.

Choose clarity over confusion, decide on a path, and trust that deep down you know exactly what you want.

Now, over to you. Have you struggled with finding clarity? How were you able to find your way?

13 thoughts on “How to Get Clear On What You Want”

  1. I always uses to ask myself what I really want & yes I know what I want but this article helped me about focus and commitment… thanx for giving me a direction of success :)) keep posting

    1. Thanks Naveen and you are so right. Making a decision and then taking action with focus and commitment are key to finding our way. Often we remain paralysed waiting for clarity when what I found was clarity comes through taking decisive action.
      I’m so glad you enjoyed the post. :-)

  2. Sometimes we have the answer staring in our face, but we are distracted by the noise that we created ourselves.

    I can relate what you are sharing with what I’m experiencing right now. To cut short the story, I’ve been in the electronics field for a decade and a series of business failures made me thought that perhaps I should venture into something else.

    After a year of floating around trying out anything except what I’m really good at, a couple of entrepreneurs had it pointed out that it’s a waste to abandon the 10 years of hard work.

    As you pointed out, beneath the raging sea is the calm clarity. But the trick is you have to go beyond your fear of the storm into the sea. Things can never be clearer for me now.

    And your post serves to assure me of my own thoughts.

    1. Yes, we can spend lots of time in the noise of our minds ignoring what is sometimes plain to see if we just take a step back. I’m glad you found your way to clarity Kenny.

  3. Hi Tessa,
    What did you decide to do eventually?
    Discovering my true passion has been the greatest challenge of my life. I’ve struggled with this feeling of unfulfillment since I left the University. Sometimes, I’m afraid to think that I don’t have a passion and will be confined to a life of mediocrity. This makes me sad and disillusioned.
    I prayed about this and sought answers but found none. What you said about such indecisiveness leading to aimless wandering is true. I studied law but didn’t want to continue with its practice. I’ve held a few jobs here and there but I’m not quite settled in a career.

    One day, a thought came to me…Why don’t you just pick something and go with it along the line of your talents. I love to express myself with words, to share ideas and engage people. I decided then to pursue a career in communications. I got the opportunity to work with a non-profit as a communications intern and discovered I actually loved it. Now, this is what I’ve decided to do with my life.
    As I get older, I’m starting to discover my other interests such as children’s welfare, guidance and counselling for young people and even graphic design. I hope that all these will mesh and lead to something awesome.
    One thing that holds us back is fear; fear that we’d make the wrong choice and be stuck in it forever. However, we have to take action and believe we are being led by a higher force.
    One of my favorite quotes is by Steve Jobs who said you can’t connect the dots forward, only backwards.
    Like you said, the road is always under construction but the journey continues.
    Thank you for this wonderful article.

    1. You’re very welcome Andrea and you’re so right. The road seems long and windy and we veer off at different points, have those experiences (some pleasant some not so much) but we learn from them all. I truly believe if we keep moving forward with an open heart it will come together. All the best as you continue to take that journey. :-)

  4. And that’s the key, isn’t it?

    “Once I understood that I was the one choosing to engage in the stories my mind was creating, I realized that I was also the one responsible for disengaging from them.”

    While the mind is a powerful tool, it does, on occasion, fill up and have us believe stories about everything that may or may not go wrong. Sometimes it is best to shut the mind off and go with our instincts.

    Curious if you do meditation, Tessa? While it may not be for everyone, I have found it can bring clarity when the mind is most clouded.

    1. Hi Joel. To be honest I’d tried it over the years and it didn’t seem to work for me whatever that means so I sort of gave up on it. But I couldn’t deny that everywhere I looked and read someone seemed to be promoting it’s benefits. So last year I decided I was going to give it a go again but this time with no expectations. I can’t say I did it everyday but I made time on most days. Weeks in I wasn’t sure anything was changing.

      Until one day I found myself at work in the middle of one of the dramas just staring calmly out of the window. I had somehow focused on a point in the distance and completely detached from the noise around me. I was cool and calm and able to not react emotionally. That was the day I knew something had changed.

      So short answer is yes but I just had to share that experience. As a baby to meditation I am learning that consistent practice is key.

  5. I realized a long time ago that clarity or confusion is a choice. But I’am struggling with the realization. So I know I can be happy and there are this moments when I am. But there are also these moments wehn I am mad because I don’t know my passion. I can’t decide what I want to do and for what I should work.
    I hope you will understand me and sorry for my bad english.

    This article is great I love it, thank you for this.

    1. I totally understand Michelle and I had the same dilemma. I gradually woke up to the question: ‘Is there really all there is? Surely my life means more than this!’ Through a lot of soul searching I realised that the answer had to come from within and I had to be willing to find it – that was the start of my journey.

      Yes, I get frustrated but I know that the only way I can figure it out is by getting my hands dirty – I will never be able to ‘think’ my way to the answer, it has to come from the heart, I have to make choices and I have to take action. Will they all work out? Of course not but I learned that there really is no ‘wrong’ decision – each one gives us just that little bit more clarity sometimes about what is NOT right for us.

      Continue to have courage and with patience and perseverance I know you will find your way, just be open to the process and the answers that come.

      All the best. :-)

  6. You said “… deep down we know exactly what we want, confusion is really a drama created by our minds that drown out that knowledge. It is as a result of conflicting thoughts and ideas running through our minds.”

    I’m a live by design not default believer, i.e. “clarity by choice”. Also recognize some struggle making decisions, i.e. foregoing a good or best possible decision for the illusive perfect one never made. Reluctant acceptance may be necessary but a resolvable situation.

    Challenge is when internal conflict (or drama as u call it) goes beyond muddled thinking & is influenced &/or triggered by emotional struggle that the world / what you want can’t be for factors beyond your control, willingness, efforts AND focus.

    Fear is not a factor. It’s a no-win situation with unavoidable substantive trade-offs / consequences no matter which path chosen. Each trade-off would differently impact my being, core, identity, happiness & those nearest / dearest.

    After much introspection the acceptable (never mind good, best or perfect) path remains a perplexing conundrum …

    1. Hi DC
      Thanks for sharing your insight.
      Given your self awareness I’m curious to know how you navigate through those challenges? Do you continue to take action in spite of it or is it really a situation by situation assessment.
      Thanks again.

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