03 Dec The 10 Secrets to Maintaining Momentum and Finding Clarity
A little more than four years ago, I had zero idea what my passion was.
Zero. Zip. Nada. None.
I thought my ‘passion’ would have hit me like a bolt of lightning somewhere along the way, an ‘ah ha’ moment, or someone else would have surely pointed it out to me by now! Sheesh!
But that ‘moment’ never happened. I was 31 years old and clueless.
So I thought that perhaps I was just one of those people who simply didn’t have a passion. But after working in corporate Public Relations for more than 10 years in a job that sucked the life out of me… accepting that that was my lot in life didn’t seem too appealing!
Even so, for the next six months I simply thought about it, mulled it over, tried to work it out in my head and I took zero action. Twelve months later and I was still in the exact same space (just a lot more frustrated!).
My passion, purpose, life’s work, calling – whatever you want to call it, still had not become clear.
I had been analyzing, weighing up options, tossing possibilities around in my head, and basically going around and around in circles!
That was until I took a small, imperfect step in a completely uncertain direction…
I started a blog. It was all about healthy eating for kids with recipes, pictures, advice, and stories, etc.
That blog doesn’t exist anymore and it never even came close to being a business. But the point is: it got me into momentum and it also helped me figure out what I didn’t want to do, which, in retrospect, was just as crucial.
Looking back, simply taking this action eventually led me to discovering my passion, quitting my job, and doing work I love… but that didn’t happen overnight!
Which Comes First? Momentum or Clarity?
Everyone seems to be chasing this elusive thing called clarity:
- clarity on your purpose or passion
- clarity on your offering
- clarity on which path to take and when
- clarity on your plan and figuring out all of the action steps required
But have you noticed that the more you pursue clarity, the more it eludes you, and the further away you seem from living a life you love?
That’s because the magic happens during momentum. And as Steve Jobs famously said:
“You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future.”
Clarity does NOT come before momentum. Momentum comes before clarity.
Avoiding Analysis Paralysis
Imagine you’re standing at the bottom of a mountain walking trail, looking at your map, reviewing your provisions, and debating which is the ‘best’ path to take?
But then as you start walking and you get further along the trail, you notice how the view has changed, you see things that were previously out of view, you feel the weather getting a little cooler, realize that the track is steeper than you envisioned, or you discover that the walking shoes you spent so long deciding on in the store are in fact quite uncomfortable!
The point is: you could never have known any of this until you took that first step, and then the second step, and the third step and so on. You see, none of us truly know what we’re doing until we start taking those first few steps – and it’s the same in business, entrepreneurship, and life in general.
Realizing that clarity comes after momentum is an important distinction because one of the most common challenges we have been hearing lately from those of you who want to make an impact and do something that matters is:
“There are so many options, I feel paralyzed with fear that I might choose the ‘wrong’ one.”
“I have so many ideas, I don’t know where to start!”
“I want to make a difference, but I’m so afraid that I will fail, mess it up and look like a fool for trying.”
Do any of those sound familiar?
If so, then you are probably under threat of the biggest clarity killer of them all: analysis paralysis.
And that means you are likely taking ZERO action, you’re stuck in your head a lot, and you’re placing a lot of pressure on yourself to have it all worked out before you take that all important first step.
And finding your passion is just one simple example of what you might be seeking clarity on. Other examples could include:
- whether to change roles at your day job
- where to take your next holiday
- where to niche down in your business
- what training course to take to boost your skills
- which product to develop for your customers
- which school to send your kids to
- which passion field to focus on
- and many, many more everyday decisions
If your dreams, ideas, thoughts, and concepts stay in your head long enough, they will probably die there because you are most certainly not in the ‘arena’, you are in the ‘stands’.
So are you ready to take that first baby step? Are you willing to lean into the discomfort of uncertainty, of not knowing where the path will lead and to simply have faith in being in momentum?
The Hard Work That Nobody Sees
Have you ever noticed someone get applauded for publishing a book, winning a race, getting an award, launching an online course, or quitting their job and thought to yourself ‘Wow! They must be super talented!” or “If only I could do something like that”?
The truth is: they are no different to you. Because what you didn’t get to see was all the hard work leading up to that moment of glory or success.
All the hard work nobody sees: the struggle, the thrash, the doubts, the naysayers, the failures, the resignation, the exhaustion, the confusion, and the uncertainty.
You see, overnight success is rare (like, really really rare!). Almost all of the great world changers and leaders endured much struggle before they made their impact on the world and many of them tried a whole host of things before they created something magical.
This ‘hard work’ that nobody sees, is the part where you start to get yourself into momentum. It’s the most important phase on the road to clarity.
So are YOU willing to do the hard work that nobody sees? Because let’s be real here: there is no ‘quick fix’ to gaining clarity.
The Biggest Myths About Finding Clarity
Let’s clear up some of the most common myths around clarity:
- That it will hit you like bolt of lightning – You will be waiting a long time! There is, of course, always time to be still and tune into that inner voice but this ideally needs to happen in-between bursts of imperfect action and being in momentum.
- That you can’t take your first step until you have a full and clear plan – Hello analysis paralysis! This is probably the most common killer of clarity. Planning always looks good on paper, but when you are actually in the ‘arena’ you start to see things you didn’t account for. Being stuck in the planning phase reduces your wiggle room and ability to be flexible as conditions and ideas evolve.
- That only the ‘special’ ones come up with brilliant and successful businesses and ideas – Most of the successful people we know have no clue what they’re doing most of the time and they probably tried and failed many times over. Do not be fooled – those ‘special’ people thrashed it out consistently and never looked for the ‘quick fix’. While others were waiting for clarity to hit, they got busy and did the hard work that nobody sees.
- Finding clarity is an end game and once you get it, you can stop – Getting clear is an ever evolving part of the journey and clarity is usually a single moment in time that passes very quickly. It’s the ‘ah ha’ moment, the next piece of the puzzle… and once you have it, you then have to get back into the momentum phase again. Finding clarity is not an end point, it’s a connection piece to the next momentum phase.
The Truth About Clarity
So now that we have dispelled the myths, we can tell you that riding the road to clarity takes grit and determination, it takes:
- Being 100% responsible – Books, courses, blogs, coaches, mentors and speeches are all super helpful, but at the end of the day you have to be willing to be 100% responsible for doing the hard work.
- Walking through the ‘mud’ – Being in momentum is not sexy, it takes getting dirty, falling down and dusting yourself off (again and again and again).
- Showing up – Often when you least want to, and doing the work. This could be showing up to figure out your strengths, attending a meetup, taking a course, experimenting with an idea, starting a blog – and all with no guarantee that it will lead to anything lasting. However ugly it gets in your head, do one thing: show up again, and again, and again.
The 10 Secrets to Maintaining Momentum and Creating Clarity
1. Take the smallest, tiniest step you can
Ask yourself, ‘What is the smallest next step I could take?’ and then take it. By simply focusing on the next step you can reduce overwhelm and fear (which are paralyzing) and reduce the scope. For example, instead of asking ‘What was I put on this Earth to do?’ ask yourself ‘What is one thing I lose all sense of time doing?’ or ‘What is one topic that fires me up at the moment and why?’. Small, consistent, incremental progress adds up in a big way.
2. Start running mini experiments
As we’ve discussed, clarity comes from being ‘in the arena’ or in momentum. Running small, mini-experiments is something I learnt from Scott and is one of the most crucial parts of momentum because it provides you with a huge amount of information or feedback on what worked, what didn’t work, what you loved, what you hated etc. Plus, you can have some fun with this one, take the pressure off, and shift your mindset from ‘all or nothing’ to ‘mini experiment’.
3. Run your own race
Comparison is the thief of joy. Stop worrying about what others think and give yourself permission to run your own race. If you focus on comparing your progress to someone else’s, you lose efficiency, you lose time and speed, and you can often lose confidence (I’ve certainly been there!), hell you could even consider giving up! It’s ok to take pointers from time to time, but remember that this is YOUR race and you can run it however you like. There is no ‘right’ way to do anything, so when you are in the initial stages of building momentum run your own race and settle into your own steady pace. It’s also the best way to ensure you don’t run out of steam.
4. Know that you can figure it out as you go
You don’t have to have it all planned out and in fact it’s better if you don’t. The most successful people we know generally have no freaking idea what they are doing – why should you be any different?! Don’t waste your time planning the finer details because what you want will inevitably change, what you need could shift, and it’s better to start that climb up the mountain instead of spending hours at the base mulling things over as the sun goes down!
5. Stop worrying about whether it is right or wrong
Being in momentum means you are purely in an information gathering and course adjusting phase and it’s just as important to know what you don’t want, as what you do want. There is no right or wrong and there is no failure – only feedback of information and deciding what to do with that data.
6. Get feedback fast and often
As you start to get into momentum you will also start to get feedback – some feedback will validate your ideas and thoughts, and other feedback will be a red flag that you’re on the wrong track. The faster you can implement, the faster you can then shift course based on this feedback. Some of the most successful people making an impact have a high speed of implementation, in other words, they are in momentum A LOT!
7. Realize that you are always moving – either forward or backwards
Really, there is no standing still in life – you are either going forwards or backwards, so you might as well be the one to be in control of which direction you are going. And by stepping into momentum, you are also allowing yourself to grow.
8. It can be more painful to stop
Have you ever gone for a run and after getting into momentum stopped to walk because you got uncomfortable? And have you noticed how sometimes stopping can feel even worse than if you kept up at a slow jog? Sometimes your brain will sabotage you as you step into unchartered territory and do things that scare you – remember that this is a good sign and keep on looking for the next smallest step you could take. If something scares you, usually that’s a marker that it’s important to you. Keep going!
9. Get an accountability buddy – someone to believe in you
Speaking of resisting the urge to stop when things get scary – the ‘race’ to clarity will ebb and flow – sometimes you’ll feel great and full of possibility and sometimes you’ll feel crappy and want to pull the plug. Surround yourself with amazing, supportive people to support you in these down times. The mind is the biggest obstacle to maintaining momentum; don’t tackle it alone!
10. Never stop believing that you have something to offer the world
You might ask yourself ‘Well, who am I to make a difference, find my passion or build a business?’ – but the real question is ‘Who are you NOT to?’ After all, you have your own unique expression. Realize that you have a skill, a talent, a voice, a creative expression in your possession that is going to make a massive difference in someone else’s life.
So our challenge to you is to start that walk into uncertainty, to let go of your need for clarity and instead enjoy the journey as it unfolds before you.
Allow yourself to experience the magic of momentum.
Are you stuck chasing clarity? And if so, what is one tiny, actionable step you can take today to get into momentum? Let us know in the comments below!
– Leah Hynes & Nazrin Murphie, Live Your Legend Master Coaches, Mastermind Mavens and Community Visionaries