Tuning out the noise: How to get clarity in life

I love setting goals because it gives you clarity like nothing else. If you’re currently not sure what you want to do, set one goal for this month.

Do you ever feel like you’re completely lost in a world that keeps on racing? The world moves fast. One moment you’re excited about a new opportunity, and the other moment you feel totally hopeless for no particular reason.

And if that’s not bad enough, there’s so much noise in the world that we lose sight of what we’re doing. It’s not uncommon to think, “Wait, what was I supposed to do on this planet?”

Look, we all get distracted. The world’s a weird place. And people ask me about how we can get clarity all the time. One reader recently sent me this email:

“Love to hear you talk about how to get clarity and minimize distractions and noise around us. What techniques do you employ to find that focus?”

It’s a good question that got me thinking. And if I look at how I get clarity in my life, there’s only one technique I use.

I remove everything that doesn’t contribute anything meaningful to my life.

I do that for 3 reasons:

  1. As you grow older, you accumulate all sorts of “things.” Even if you’re not a hoarder or someone who wants it all, your life will expand as the years go by. You will have more friends, more stuff, more ideas, more goals, more wishes, more expectations. If you don’t watch it, all those “more’s” will clutter your vision. You will have so many things in your life that you don’t know what’s important. To battle that, you must see yourself as a sculptor.
    As your life expands, you keep on carving out the non-essential things. Until you die, keep removing everything that doesn’t contribute to your goals. Most of us only clean house when big things happen: Moving to a new house, getting a baby, the loss of a loved one. Instead, keep removing everything you don’t need — on a daily basis.
  2. When something distracts you, don’t waste your effort trying to manage it. Instead, do yourself a favor and get rid of it completely. For example, if social media apps on your phone distract you, remove them from your phone. Don’t bother setting time limits, no one is so strong to resist the urge. And if you want to lose weight, stop buying junk food. Don’t allow snacks in your house.
  3. You only have so much time and energy. One of my favorite books is The One Thing by Gary Keller. The main message is that we can achieve anything if we only focus on one thing at a time. It’s time to get rid of the project that’s on your to-do list for 3 years. It’s time to say goodbye to the friends you’re not that close with. If something doesn’t give you energy, remove it.

“I want to give this elimination strategy a try to get more clarity. How can I apply it?”

Here are 3 practical tips that you can apply right now.

  1. Set one goal you want to achieve in the next month. I love setting goals because it gives you clarity like nothing else. If you’re currently not sure what you want to do, set one goal for this month. Ask yourself: “What’s something I want to achieve and can do within a month?” Pick something that’s important to you. Something you wanted to do for a long time. But make sure it’s small enough that you can start working on TODAY.
  2. Use a productivity system (read about my system here). When you start removing everything that’s not meaningful from your life, you will feel relieved. You will get clarity once you only focus on achieving one goal. But how do you even achieve a goal? The answer is to have a productivity system. Without it, we still end up wasting a lot of our time. Getting clarity is only the first step, but after that, you must find a way to get it done.
  3. Keep a journal. Every day, take some time to reflect on your life. Ask yourself questions like: “Do I know where I’m going? Am I going there? What is distracting me? What’s not contributing anything to my life?” Doing that will help you to get your thoughts in order.

One of the things I must stress is that finding focus is a process. Actually, it’s more like a battle. Every day you struggle to tune out all the noise in the world. There will never be a moment in your life where you will achieve focus and KEEP it forever.

If you want clarity in your life, you have to fight for it. Every day, you reflect on your activities and remove the clutter. Some days that process takes 10 minutes, other days it might take 60.

But no matter what you do, take time for yourself to think about where you are going. And then, start moving towards that direction.