After I published my diatribe on why 2015 was such a stale year for me financially, I found my inner critique yelling at me for passing the buck — blaming external factors for my failures — when I knew deep down that there are other, perhaps bigger, internal issues responsible for my abysmal financial performance in 2015.
And with 36 years of experience, I’ve come to realize whenever Inner Joe speaks, I better listen. So I’ll fess up right here and now.
Yes, I couldn’t be as productive as I could have been in 2015 due to the electricity problems I so laboriously and eloquently articulated. Yes, the depreciation of the Cedi ate further into my already razor-thin margins. Yes, all these and more external influences teamed up to mess up my year. But that’s only one-half of the story.
The other, and perhaps the bigger, reason for my inability to make any meaningful progress in 2015 is my own ongoing internal struggle for clarity and focus.
I’ve no doubt that clarity and focus are important qualities for success. For, how can you march forward with gazelle intensity if you’re uncertain of your destination? How do you even know which way to turn?
I have first-hand experience with the amazing power of clarity and focus. In my professional life, I’ve been able to move mountains, cross oceans, conquer giants and solve really big problems when I have absolute clarity of purpose and I’m totally devoted to the cause.
But when it comes to my own life, where clarity and focus matter the most, I’ve struggled with clarity for as long as I’ve known the concept. And without clarity, it’s been impossible for me to focus on any particular endeavor, and thereby make any meaningful push forward.
In the latter part of the last year, I spent a whole month away from home and family and encamped myself in a tiny hotel room with one just goal: to finally chart a new career path for 2016. During this time I read books and articles, I listened to podcasts, I watched videos, I attended teleseminars — all on the subject of clarity. I really dug deep and wide in-between several cups of coffee and a whole lot of tears.
And the result of all that laboring? I can sum up the result of my month-long exercise, in terms of real progress, in just one word: None. Zero. Ziltch. Nada.
Sometimes it’s tough to set a clear goal because you don’t know what you’re getting into. This is doubly so when it comes to big decisions like what pursuit to devote your life to. But that shouldn’t stop you from trying.
I’m still on a wild hunt for clarity on this life’s — my life’s — purpose that’s so far eluded me. I’m still studying. I’m still digging inside. I’ve even joined two group coaching programs run by two of very successful businessmen I respect so dearly (but haven’t met before). And most important of all, going forward, I’ve decided to take imperfect action.
Rather than set goals around a clear life purpose (something which has eluded me so far), my immediate goal now is the pursuit of clarity itself. It’s as much about the journey as the destination. The one gift I’m absolutely clear on is having the heart of a teacher, and rather than wait till all the lights turn green, I’m taking imperfect action by exploring and experimenting in order to gain clarity within this space.
Doing what you’re already doing won’t give you more clarity. Thinking about what to do next and writing down some goals can certainly help, but that isn’t always enough. Sometimes you have to get moving first before clarity can be achieved. You’ll enjoy more clarity when you’re in motion than when you’re standing still. A pilot has better visibility from the air than from the ground. Why not take imperfect action today?
These are the imperfect actions I’m taking this week:
- I’m rebooting my email newsletter this week. Back when I provided free tech support on this website, I also published a weekly email newsletter with juicy stuff for my (then) huge tribe. If you were previously subscribed to the newsletter, or if you’ve engaged with me recently, expect an email on Wednesday inviting you to click a link to confirm your subscription to the newsletter.
- I’m getting my client Dr. Emmanuel Kojo Hopeson’s book, Understanding Human Behavior in Conflict Resolution, published in the Amazon Kindle store.
- I’m finishing Phase 1 of a new website for the Centre for Peace and Reconciliation (founded and led by Dr. Hopeson). The design and coding of this initial phase are complete. We’re just left with the copy for a few pages. This should be done by Thursday.
- I’m pushing, cajoling, threatening, and doing all I humanly can to push out issue #1 of CPR’s monthly e-newsletter. We’ve been back and forth on this for so long, it’s this week or never.
- And perhaps the biggest imperfect action I’m taking this week: I’m picking a project, any project, aligned or not aligned, clarity or no clarity, to work on for the next 6 months. This is just for six months, not a life-long pursuit or some life purpose thing to put tremendous pressure on me to make the right choice. The only criteria is I should tremendously enjoy doing it. At the end of the 6 months, I’ll decide whether to stop or continue with the project.
What imperfect actions are you taking this week to move forward with your life, career, or business dreams? Kindly share them in the comments section below.