Why Clarity Is The Ultimate Secret to Breakthrough Success
Clarity Is Not As Clear As It Seems
Today I want to talk to you about the importance of clarity. If you’ve ever done a goal-setting exercise or read about effective goal setting before, you’ve likely heard about the importance of clearly visualizing your goal. It makes sense that would be true, because you need to know where you’re going and be able to track your progress if you want a realistic chance of getting there. However, there’s another aspect of clarity that is just as important, and it significantly affects your motivation.
Why Resolutions Often Fail
If you’ve ever failed to follow through on a new year’s resolution, a common problem is a lack of clarity. Having an unclear picture of what you want to accomplish is a sure way to fail. Making a resolution to complete a triathlon by the end of the year is doomed to fail if you don’t specify what distance triathlon you want to compete in and what time you want to achieve. With such a poorly defined goal, you won’t know whether your resolution is even realistic or whether you’re on track to accomplish it, so you’ll be less likely to do anything. But if you only define the end goal, even if it is S.M.A.R.T., you will be missing a key ingredient that will help you develop and maintain the necessary motivation.
Clarity of Daily Actions
Let’s say you are trying to increase your sales by 30% over last year. It’s important to then define the specific behaviors or actions you’ll need to do every day or week to accomplish your goal. In this case, you may decide that, to accomplish the goal, you need to make 50 sales calls every week. Doing that means you need to spend 15 hours a week finding and qualifying new prospects so you can then make 10 calls to those new prospects every day.
It’s critical that you be just as clear on your daily actions as you are on the end goal. Without that clarity, you'll be more likely to get behind without realizing it and then more likely to give up. Imagine you were asked to sail a boat from California to Hawaii, but you know only very basic sailing skills. If you were just given the destination and set adrift, you would have a very hard time knowing whether the actions you were taking at any given time were getting you closer to your goal. That is a situation that can be very demotivating, which I talk about in another video (you can check it out here).
On the flip side, however, if you were given instructions on how to navigate the boat, you could much more easily discern whether your actions were moving you in the right direction. While you can (and should) check your overall progress toward your goal on a weekly basis, your daily activities are what actually get you there. So, having that clarity on the things you need to do each day helps you make better decisions moment by moment. In the sales example I mentioned earlier, clarity on your daily actions helps you decide things like whether to check your email inbox now or make one more sales call before you do.
When you don’t have clarity on your daily activities and how they lead you to your goal, the decision to check your inbox now seems innocent enough. And, in fact, you may not even think of it as a decision that affects your goal. But when you do have that clarity, you become acutely aware of how those micro-decisions affect or hinder your ability to achieve your goal. And just like with money, those little decisions are investments of energy and focus that compound over time to produce tremendous results if you stay consistent.
The benefits of clarity
Once you start making smarter choices on a day-to-day basis, you become more effective while you’re working. When you're more effective, your days and weeks become more productive. And when you start being more productive, you quickly start to see steady progress toward your goal. That progress has several benefits.
First, you experience an increase in confidence as you take on new challenges and learn new skills. That confidence then shows up in your interactions with other people, naturally attracting them to you, which often results in additional support for your goal. Finally, when you feel like you’re in control of your life and your ability to create the kind of life you desire, it significantly boosts your motivation.
While conventional wisdom states that you need to have motivation to achieve your goals, that idea is not entirely accurate. While having motivation does help you to continue and even accelerate your progress, sometimes your subconscious needs to see a few baby steps to get the cycle kick started. Once it sees a little progress toward your goal, that progress actually produces motivation, which will help you make even more progress.
So, to put this strategy to use in your life, you need to clearly define what your daily actions are. Then, if you have trouble getting started, break those daily activities down into a laughably small task. Something that requires so little effort you don’t resist but that still moves you in the right direction. Then, do it again. Once you gain a little confidence, make the task slightly harder or do it slightly longer. As you start taking those baby steps, your confidence and motivation will increase, even if only slightly. Continue to build on that momentum by gradually increasing the difficulty or duration and you will reach a point where your confidence and motivation will become self sustaining.
Let me know how you’re putting this strategy to use in your life by leaving a comment below.