The other C word

Thank you for your comments on the C(hange) Word. As promised here is the sequel to that post from a galaxy far far away…(I’ve always wanted to say that!!!).

The other C word is of course, Clarity. This is one that evokes the most wails, whines, bleats, sighs and even nervous giggles usually with the tag line “If I knew what I wanted, I would do it, but I don’t know what I want” or simply “I don’t know what I want” (sigh). I hear this everywhere I go, from most people I meet, which is sad because it’s kinda Critical to know what you want if you’re to have half a chance of getting it.

So how is it possible to become clearer on what you want? Here are some of my ideas based on my personal experience. You see, I too used to say “I wish I knew what I wanted” all too frequently – here’s what helped me.

1. I stopped saying “I don’t know” & started saying – I’m figuring it out. Sounds simple, I know but it made a big difference to my mood and attitude. Instead of beating up on myself for not knowing, I gave myself a break and made it OK not to have all the answers immediately. It helped me to relax and lighten up, which in turn helped me to figure out bit by bit what I truly wanted. So lighten up on yourself – life changes, you change all the time and it’s OK not to know EVERYTHING you want right this minute. Stick with it though!

2. I got a Coach – This is HUGE & helped me more than I can say. It’s the single most important step IMHO & really encompasses all the other steps too. My wonderful coach Ros worked with me over a period of time to answer this question from a number of different angles & using many ways. Most importantly, she kept me on track & held me accountable to actually keep asking the question, i.e. not avoiding it or putting it off till the weekend (which never came or vanished in a mist of red wine or G&T / Pimms depending on the season).  Thirdly, she provided a space of safety and fun to have these conversations with myself and explore this in a curious and light and fun way.  So get a coach if you are really serious about figuring out what you want to be when you grow up or even if you want to grow up!

3. I made space and stayed in the questions – Frankly, I avoided facing this question (and myself) a lot with all the wonderful distractions life & London has to offer. Everything from Cricket to picnics to parties to pubs to movies to books to holidays….The problem is, it would not go away and I finally made it a priority. Or better said, I made me a priority – it became more important to listen to my self than blot out my inner voice with distractions. How? I made space & time for myself – reading time, reflection & introspection time, personal time to hang out with myself and explore the questions. Saying “I don’t have time is another way of saying “I don’t want to”. That’s fine, just be honest with yourself & cut the BS. When you want to enough, you will.

4. “I know what I don’t want” - I knew that I did not want to stay in the same situation forever – I enjoyed what I was doing & my life but I knew I did not want to be there 10 or even 5 years down the line. Most people know what they don’t want, which is a great place to begin! Usually, what you do want is the opposite of what you don’t want, so this is often the 1st step to clarity. E.g. – I don’t want to be fat so I DO want to be slim; I don’t want to be an accountant all my life so I do want to do something different at some point. Just knowing that you want something to change is a big step towards choosing the specifics of the change so when you know what you don’t want to do ask what’s the opposite or what do I want instead?

5. Funneling – this goes with 4. Start general & then narrow down to more specific points gradually. So e.g. “I don’t want to be an accountant forever” could lead to “I would like to be outdoors more often” or “I’d like to do something more tangible with my hands.” The next step is to drill down gently, gradually – “What does outdoors mean” – maybe on a mountain, I like climbing OR “hands” could mean anything from woodwork to writing to painting… explore explore explore. Just keep asking questions and having the conversation ( you can probably see now how having a coach really helps with this!)

6. Key questions: Some of the critical questions I asked myself & eventually answered were a) what’s important to me? b) Why is it important to me? c) What would my ideal work day look like? d) What do I love doing? e) When was the last time I had so much fun I forgot to check the time? f) How would it feel if I was really clear? g) What was I doing the last time I felt that way?

7. Resources: A good book to read is “What colour is your parachute”.  Another cool and fun thing is hanging out with people who you think are interesting or do things you think would be cool e.g. I spoke to a lot of coaches and speakers while I was exploring, read books about environmentalists and saw programmes about them, found out what a “day in the life” would be like. Ask around – you know more people than you think and they know people who know people….

8. Enjoy yourself – Have fun figuring it out, be curious, consider it as a license to thrill yourself! Play with it – I had great fun trying on professions in my head and imagined myself as a famous author, rockstar…This is a fun journey and you’ll know when you know :) .

Happy exploring.


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  1. The C(hange) word
2 Responses to The other C word
  1. Michelle O'Neil
    July 25, 2010 | 7:54 pm

    Great post Piya! I will enjoy playing around with your suggestions.

    You are definitely a rock star.

    ; )

  2. Akriti Pawar
    December 7, 2011 | 5:49 am

    Nice one there. I had a smile on my face all through the article. Can so relate to the first few paragraphs.

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