How to start forming a direction

There’s no point deciding what habits to pick up, or get rid of, if you don’t know what you’re trying to accomplish.

Working out an overall goal is a big task. Frankly, I also think it’s pointless. There are a number of things that could happen to you over your lifetime, even tomorrow, that will prevent you from achieving your aims. If it happened tomorrow that wouldn’t be so bad, but five years down the line when you have committed so much will leave you bitter and angry that all your energy was for naught.

Instead, rather than focusing on a specific goal, think about an overall mission. This mission is not reliant on certain roles or jobs, but rather is outcome-led.

To take a very banal example, rather than “I want to be a doctor” it could be “I want to help people”. Now, this example is too simplistic and will not help when making decisions and choices (I’ll explain this more in a moment) but you can see it’s not reliant on something that is outside of your control. You could fall greatly ill in a year’s time which prevents you from undertaking medical school. Or you may find that the sight of blood causes you to faint. If your identity was tied up with becoming a doctor, this would majorly impact your mental health and leave you feeling like a failure.

Rather, if your direction was “I want to help people”, if either of this situations arose above then you could find numerous other things to do to fulfill that aim. Therefore, once you have set your direction, you’re able to keep to it.

That direction will change and refine over time. But setting something early on will make your life much easier. I talk about decisions and choices above, what I mean is that every action you take should reflect your direction in life. Obviously not all choices in life are going to have an angle where your overall direction plays in (trying to get a person you likes phone number doesn’t really line up with helping people, unless you’re massively egotistical). But many decisions do.

Of course, this is also where specificity comes into play. In a given situation, “I want to help people” may still give you several different options to pick. Such a phrase is too broad to be useful in setting direction.

The framework I was provided was to frame it as ‘I want to …so that…). That first bit might be I want to help people, but then the bit after reflects what the outcome of that help is. I want to help people so that…they care for others/they achieve their dreams/they expand their knowledge. Again, I want to help people is a bit too simplistic, so here’s my current one to help provide some ideas:

I want to help people to see their potential, so that they become the person they can be.

It’s not perfect, but it doesn’t need to be. You’ll refine it over time and tweak it slightly.

Once you’ve nailed down the wording, that’s when you can start working out what habits you need to build to realise it.

In next Sunday’s post, I’m going to write about anxiety and fear. These two things will be the biggest blocker to you actually fulfilling your potential. They never go away, but you must overcome them to achieve what you want to achieve.

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