Several years ago I was on a business trip with Gary Gore in Dallas, and we got lost. If you’ve ever seen the traffic in Dallas, you can probably relate. This was before we had smartphones. So, what did we do? We stopped, pulled out a map, got our bearings, adjusted our plan, and started moving again.
The current pandemic has many of us feeling lost in the same way. We’re in uncharted waters and are all struggling to decide what to focus on, what to eliminate, how to make the most of our time, or where to conserve finances.
As tempting as it is to want to react with a flurry of activity when we are confused and feeling lost, this is when we most need to stop and reorient ourselves. Here are two navigation tips I believe can help you find your way.
Gain clarity of purpose
First, stop and gain clarity about where you’re trying to go. Clarity of vision focuses action. It is crucial in life to have an answer to the question, “what is my purpose…what is the reason that I exist?” This is your end goal, and the answer should be one that is noble, inspiring, energizing and can be applied to any situation. A clearly defined core purpose gives you a framework to choose wisely when faced with the inevitable forks in the road of life by answering the question, “which path is more likely to help me fulfill my core purpose?”
Victor Frankl, author of Man’s Search for Meaning and holocaust survivor, discovered as a prisoner in a concentration camp that those who had a purpose bigger than themselves were more likely to survive those brutal conditions. This purpose was usually one that was directed towards uplifting and improving the life of others.
A friend of mine recently brought this principle to life. He is a small business owner whose business is almost completely shut down due to the pandemic. Leaning into his core values and core purpose, he made some important decisions. First, although limited cash reserves required that he lay off most of his employees, he has made the food in his restaurant available for free to his team members. Second, he has clarified his vision to partner with a local non-profit that teaches entrepreneurship to inner city youth. His purpose in life hasn’t changed, but his renewed clarity has given him a valuable framework for how to respond to the current circumstances.
Take Time Daily to Self-Reflect
Depending on your situation, you may have an abundance of free time or you may be consumed with a flurry of stressful activity in responding to the crisis. My advice to both groups is the same. Develop the discipline of having a daily quiet time. Take time alone every day to develop yourself, align with your core purpose and core values, reflect on the past 24 hours, and reorient for the next day.
It’s easy to get disoriented as you go about your day. A daily reset ensures you’re starting each day with clarity about what’s most important.
I know this from personal experience and the feedback of our clients. Here are some suggestions for implementing this practice. You might find some helpful and others not applicable. There is no set formula that works for everyone:
Create a distraction-free environment
Keep a journal handy for note taking
Engage in prayer and meditation
Use inspirational readings to stimulate higher thinking
Ask yourself challenging questions related to your purpose, such as “Who am I”, “Who do I want to be?” and “How am I going to get there?”
Once clear on your purpose, ask yourself, “What are the one or two most important things for me to focus on today?”
Many of us feel like powerful ocean waves have been pummeling us for the past few weeks. We may even be experiencing a sense of powerlessness. While it is true that we cannot control what is happening in the world, it is also true that we can control how we respond. With clarity of purpose and the reorienting practice of quiet time, it is likely that our response to these circumstances will be far more effective and beneficial than it would be otherwise.
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