Someone recently asked me how I help people gain clarity on what they really want, especially if they tend to be dazzled by too many possibilities (multi-potentialites and ADHD peeps, I see you!)
It took me a few decades to realize that the answers can’t be found in my overactive brain. Instead, they reside in my body. Did you know that we have 100 million neurons in our guts and over 40 million in our heart centers? We inhabit a gigantic distributed mind, and yet somehow we keep ourselves trapped in our tiny logic centers of our brains’ left hemispheres.
The process I lead my clients through, either 1:1 or in a group, begins with a foundational skill: listening to your body.
- Feel and act on your YES. If you’ve felt it, you know what I’m talking about. It’s not a rational answer or decision; it’s the way your entire body expands and lights up when presented with something in full alignment with your authentic self. The more clarity you have on your YESSES and the more frequently you embrace them, the happier and more joy-filled your life becomes.
- Feel and act on your NO. NO feels the opposite of YES: tight and constricting, contracting like a turtle into a shell. But how often do we accept NOs in our lives out of obligations, expectations, or worrying about what others might think? All these NOs are using space that could be occupied by a YES, and it’s time to clear it out. Clutter can include stuff, being in the wrong job, surrounding ourselves with people who don’t light us up, or living in a place that isn’t aligned with who we are. Like an elimination diet, we first need to release the NOs in order to really hear and embrace our YES.
YES and NO alone can be life-changing (hence why Marie Kondo’s Lifechanging Magic of Tidying Up is such a worldwide phenomenon!) But now it’s time to refine things a bit further so you have a sense of direction. We start to build an “inner compass.”
- Use core needs as a guide. Remember Maslow’s hierarchy of needs from your school days? Well, these needs (plus several others that have surfaced in my research like Control) are the ‘programming’ that motivates our decisions. They’re simultaneously universal and individual. Personally, I need to feel free, impactful and expressive to have a joy-filled life, whereas you might be driven by Security and Belonging or something else. Our core needs can provide direction for our lives; we know when we’re on the right track based on how we feel when those needs are met. Check out my article in Fast Company for more.
- Create coherence. Call it mission or vision, it’s important to define the primary aspiration for your life and work. The most effective ones are informed by your YES and core Needs… which means you feel your vision in your body. This vision is what holds it all together; it’s the heart of the inner compass, pointing the way forward, helping you align your choices to the highest vision for yourself.
- If it doesn’t fit, take it off the table. This means saying NO to all those intellectually fascinating squirrels that grab your attention, but that don’t fit your Needs and Vision. Usually my clients start out with a laundry list of all the things they’re interested in… but after a month or two of practicing with YES and NO, and defining Needs and Vision, most of the items simply fall away. There’s a clarity that emerges… a signal in the noise, if you will, by doing this inner work.
- Lastly: love your limits. Popular self-help books want you to believe that your choices are infinite, and that we can be and do anything. But that belief creates an overwhelming amount of choice, and it’s misleading. Each of us was born with a unique set of wiring: we have innate interests, talents and preferences that have always brought us joy. This doesn’t negate the opportunity to develop specific skills, but it certainly helps eliminate overwhelm by taking options off the table that aren’t ours to pursue.
Once you’ve developed this inner navigation system, decisions get easier. You start quickly sensing whether something is on your path or not. You enter the flow of life, magnetizing instead of striving and chasing. Magic happens.
Want some help?
Doors are open for the second cohort of the Intentional Rebels program, which is designed to help Rebels develop greater clarity, authenticity, confidence, and unerring inner-navigation skills. To learn more and get on the wait list for an early May start date, click here.
“I now have a great idea of who I can become again and what lights me up. I am now happier to be unapologetically me and I am more confident at work. I now have better relationships with people as am more willing to speak up or do things I felt awkward with before. I’ve already recommended this program to others!”Tanya, Global CX, Strategy and Ops
“The program has developed my sense of self and identity, shedding light and providing clarity on my values and priorities, providing me with bespoke tools which enable navigation when I am lost. Emotionally I feel less alone and isolated in my quandaries. It is good to know others in similar situations, battling with familiar issues and questioning things it sometimes appears nobody else sees. I felt supported and understood not only by Jen, but by the other members of the group, an outcome I treasure.”– Davina, Social Artist & Agent Provocateur