Did you know the qualities of the person you might want to spend the rest of your life with when you were 7 years old? Did you know the kind of life you would want to live in adulthood when you were a teenager? Did you know what your retirement life could look like when you were in your 20’s?
Throughout my life, I have been asked by a significant number of people on how I could have such clarity in my life, which has consequently contributed to me fulfilling what I’ve set out to do. It made me reflect on my life’s story. As a survivor of “tough love” parenting, I must acknowledge the role my unique upbringing has played in this matter. Enduring physical, mental and emotional afflictions from a tender age makes you ask important life questions pertaining to beliefs, values, purpose and aspirations earlier than one normally would.
What I have learned from my experience is that there are three critical success factors that will enable us to authentically achieve our ambition - SELF, GOAL and SUSTENANCE; and it is vital to be explicit in what they constitute. Having clarity in these areas will support how you project yourself, steer yourself in the right direction and remain true to yourself.
#1 Self - Who am I? What are my beliefs, passions, strengths? What am I worth?
Answers to these questions are important to shape how we view ourselves and the world. This impacts how we would show up for ourselves and others, which impacts how others would show up for us as well.
By way of illustration, in spite of the hardships in my youth, I’m a person who consistently chooses to look at things in a positive light and find joy even in misadventures. As one who is passionate about diversity, I believe that there is always another way. My ability to break things down as well as connect the dots gives me the confidence to resolve issues.
What am I worth? I hope I’m worth a smile on someone’s face when they need one, or a sounding board that inspires a spring in their step. These are some phrases that have been said to me over the years which I treasure and fulfil me - “You’re bright and chirpy everytime I see you”, “I’ve never seen you stressed”, “I miss the sound of your laughter” and “I knew you’re absolutely the right person to reach out to”.
#2 Goal - What do I want or need, for myself and others? What is my purpose and vision?
Knowing the answers to these questions not only gives you something to aim for but helps improve your focus and performance because it guides how you organise your resources so that you can make the most of your life.
As an example, having had a hemmed-in childhood, I want* to have the freedom to live my life on my own terms. To do so, I know that I need* to be in an environment, or create one, that fulfills me. (*NB: it is imperative to differentiate your wants from your needs) My passion for people gives me the desire to envision a world filled with empowered individuals authentically living their best lives. This became my true motivation for pursuing a lifelong vocation in supporting others to gain clarity and have the confidence to achieve their goals within their circumstances.
How do I know that I’m achieving my goal? I feel contentment and satisfaction with what* I have, which encompasses my contributions to the success of others. These give me a sense of pride that fuels me with energy to keep doing what I’m doing. (*includes material possessions and intangible matters e.g. experiences, feelings, mindsets, perceptions, character.)
#3 Sustenance - What is going to motivate me to stay who I am? Who can support me and keep me honest?
Appreciating how you can sustain being accountable to your true self will help you realise more for yourself as well as those around you. This is because you are aware of your standards as well as the choices that you have and can make; enabling you to discern the options from the distractions and prioritising the ones that matter most.
For instance, to effectively juggle the various hats that I wear in my personal and professional life - as a wife, daughter, sister, extended family member, friend, coach, mentor, consultant, writer, traveller and responsible member of society - I know that when push comes to shove, I will need to prioritise my love and loyalty; which for me, is family, always. This is because I know that for me to persevere as I am in tough times, I will require motivation and support; and these are the people who will always have my back, no matter what.
Having said that, as I swap the different hats that I have on my rack, I would continue to identify what and who I need in the moment to stay authentic. This is how I “be present” and remain accountable to myself. In the process, I have the visibility and ability to decide on the changes I should or shouldn’t make and take action accordingly.
When you have clearly defined your self, goal and sustenance, making decisions and taking actions comes naturally; to change habits, establish boundaries, seize opportunities - even who to spend the rest of your life with. Thus, enabling you to authentically achieve your ambitions.
What are you clear about for each of your life’s critical success factors? Drop me a comment below.
Seeking for better clarity in a certain area of your life?