A common challenge all investors face, regardless of wealth, is gaining clarity around your choices. Clarity is fickle, and as life plays out it often appears and disappears without notice. How can you capture more clarity in all your decisions?

It begins by understanding the key ingredient in clarity, which is time. Time to think and reflect so you may describe what you want. What exactly are you working toward and when would you like it to arrive? Priorities and goals are often reshuffled and changed over time. Some themes though, will remain constant, and that’s where your energy should be directed. Narrow in on these topics and map out a plan.

What matters to you today just as much as it did last week, last year, or five years ago? Are the habits you’ve created getting you closer to or further away from your goal? If it’s the latter, it’s possible you need to set time aside and refine what exactly you’re looking to accomplish. You’d think this would be easy, but taking a glance at your calendar and commitments may leave little time for reflections. The most important step to gaining clarity is proactively setting time aside to think. Writing down what comes to mind and revisiting your notes are effective steps you can take on your own.

Finding a quiet environment where you can purposefully think about all your possibilities is key. Working from home may include more distractions even with noise canceling headphones. A conference room at the office, the library, or taking a walk without your device creates time to sort ideas and think about what you want.

Once you’ve distilled your thoughts into notes, or on a stickie, it’s time to ask a friend or significant other for their feedback. Having someone you trust gently push back and ask questions is valuable. You can achieve clarity without the feedback of others, on your own, but it may take longer. As a planner, I believe asking better questions is more valuable than having all the answers. Answers are everywhere today, the right questions at the right time create an environment for clarity to appear.

Is what you want worth it or is it just another distraction? Distractions come in all shapes and sizes and keep us from taking the next steps. Bestselling author Steven Pressfield describes this as “resistance”, keeping us from doing the work we need to do. Sooner or later, we need to act and test what’s been outlined.

Clarity around what you want can be your own personal superpower. It becomes easier to say no to activities and people who aren’t getting you closer to what matters. This sounds easy, but in reality, our attention spans are getting shorter. It takes discipline to focus. It’s natural to feel anxious and reactive when you’re unsure of what you want. Living in a constant state of decision making can wear you down, leading to frustration and errors, both of which are avoidable.

To combat this, consider updating your wellness routine. What’s your sleep like, how’s your diet, and are you going outside for a walk throughout the day? Breaking up your day and making time for yourself, even 5 minutes, makes a difference.

Real life planning and decision making is easier when you commit time to clarifying what you want. It may not arrive when you expect it, instead focus on inputs, small steps you may take each day. The journey becomes so much more valuable than the destination if you allow it.

Advisory services through Cambridge Investment Research Advisors, Inc., a Registered Investment Advisor. Cambridge and Flowerstone Financial are not affiliated. Cambridge does not offer tax or legal advice.

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