Do you know what you really want as a person and as a professional? What’s your vision for your life or your business? Knowing the answer to these questions is having clarity.
Unfortunately, the number one reason people fail to achieve their goals is because they lack clarity of vision for the life they want to live. The reason for this lack of clarity is that they have committed little or no time to developing it.
Julie Littlechild, founder of If Not Now Research and Advisor Impact, Toronto, recently polled 250 financial advisors who manage $250M or more in client assets to understand more about the things that drive successful advisors and how they define, drive and sustain growth. She says one of the defining characteristics is that they consistently aim higher – in almost all aspects of their lives. “It’s in their DNA and it applies in equal measure to their business lives, their personal relationships and their health,” she wrote.
The study helped Littlechild’s team identify six characteristics of successful advisors. One is having clarity around business and personal goals. Eighty-three percent of those polled said they have a clear vision for their business, jumping to 95 percent for larger firms. These advisors don’t just define the size of the business, but the kind of work they want to be doing, the clients they want to serve and the team they want to build.
There are, of course, challenges. On a personal level, the challenges are all about time management and balancing work and family life. Professionally, respondents still see growth as the single biggest challenge that switches the focus to team, differentiation and succession among the larger businesses.
The study also revealed that great advisors see the possibility of great achievement. While most advisors can speak to a vision of the future, the most successful are more likely to see the possibility of achieving those goals more clearly.
Clear goals and objectives are essential to having a meaningful life and successful business. When you are clear about what you want, you are able to describe it in vivid detail. You know a little something about what it will take to get there and how it will feel once you achieve it. You connect to an inner source of inspiration that will call you forth and compel you to achieve a powerful new vision.
Dr. Joelle K. Jay, a principal with global leadership development firm Leadership Research Institute (LRI), Santa Fe, CA, and the author of The Inner Edge: The 10 Practices of Personal Leadership, says we don’t always make the effort to get a deep sense of clarity. “We get lost in the details. We zero in on the now, and if we’re really lucky, we look ahead to next week. But that’s a shortsighted view. Business needs leaders who can see farther into the future — not just for their organizations, but also for themselves.”
Jay offers three strategies to help you get clarity and help you gain insight on who you are and who you can be as a leader, any time you need it:
The Inner View. This strategy refers to exploring. Ask yourself a range of questions on a variety of topics such as your hopes, fears, concerns, questions and needs. You ask these questions to uncover your thoughts and feelings that influence your ability to be successful. Doing this helps you see where you stand now in relation to what you ultimately want — that long-range vision, but you don’t just answer the questions, you explore them. Exploration is not an interview, it’s the inner view. Identify the topic, exactly what you need to get clear about, then ask open-ended questions and explore the answers.
You and Improved. The second process for getting clarity is envisioning the future. Envisioning the future means using your imagination to see yourself in the future — this is what Wharton School of Business researchers deem “the leadership skill of time travel.” You close your eyes and get a visual picture of what you want. It’s a daydream with meaning. In your mind you see yourself succeeding. You… and improved.
Envisioning helps you see a complete picture as opposed to answering questions in words. When you envision the future (as opposed to just ruminating on it), you see it in the form of vibrant images, alive with details. The pictures serve to amplify important internal messages, explain gut reactions and reveal intuitive wisdom. They are imbued with meaning, which can help you make decisions and take action.
Envisioning is not fantasizing. It’s a practical, efficient technique to get clarity instantly by tapping into these rich stores of knowledge that sometimes get obscured in the chaos of daily life.
The Path. Ironically, the problem with envisioning is it all happens in the future. Even though that’s the idea, it can still be a little intimidating. You may be able to see how a visit to the future can help you gain confidence, clarity and practical ideas on where you’re headed, but that still doesn’t address getting from here to there, which can be a pretty daunting proposition.
The Path is an organizing metaphor — a scenario that helps order your thoughts, so you can get clarity where there might be darkness or confusion otherwise. Visualizing yourself moving along your path only takes a few minutes and it’s easy to do, but the real journey begins by reflecting on the experience and interpreting what you saw. Analyze the visualization. Ask yourself: If this path were a metaphor for my life, what would I learn? If I were to lead myself down a path like this, what would I need to do now? What meaning does that have for me in real life?
“In order to achieve success in your life and as a leader, you don’t just need a clear vision of the future. You need to have the skill of getting clarity again and again. Both your intuition and your imagination are important access points to valuable information—information that need to surface in order to clarify your vision.”
“Getting clarity can move you quickly out of overwhelm, distraction, and confusion into excitement, confidence, and peace,” Jay wrote.
Summit Brokerage Services is a member of Cetera Financial Group, RCS Capital Corporation’s (NYSE: RCAP) retail investment advice platform.
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