–> The first website I ever wrote was for my freelance marketing business. And it was a flaming pile of trash. I wasn’t sure what I was supposed to be saying, and it showed!
–> In college, I took a job just because I was eager to add a new line to my resume. But I was very bad at that job. I spent countless evenings under unnecessary stress, wondering what had possessed me to take it.
–> One of my early web copy offerings was an all-in-one copy and messaging package. You might even remember it. It even went through several evolutions as my business developed. But it was always tough to sell, and I was never 100% sure it was what my audience was really looking for.
Why am I telling you these things? Am I trying to be #relatable? Am I a glutton for self deprecation?
I mean, yeah, probably. 😏 But more importantly, it’s to tell you that every big-picture business problem I’ve ever encountered was caused by one thing. The same damn thing pulled me down time and time again:
A lack of clarity.
Not knowing who you’re doing something for, what it’s supposed to do, or why it’s needed in the first place is a recipe for another round of “Oh god why did I waste so much time on this??”
But to my credit (and yours!), getting clarity is not an easy thing. It takes a lot of introspection and information-gathering. But when you have it, you feel it.It’s that moment when your heart pounds just a little faster, everything feels lighter, and you have a direction to move forward.
Let’s just say it—clarity sparks joy.
(That’s Marie Kondo, for those of you who prefer the comfort of living under your rock. No worries—I don’t judge.)
Here’s how to get that clarity on whatever you’re working on right now:
Step 1: Gather the input. Then gather some more.
You can’t make decisions in a bubble.
“Input” can be anything that helps you make a decision. It’s going to conferences, talking with trusted mentors (not just getting friends’ opinions), interviewing clients, and reading more books (not just articles).
If you’re caught in indecision or haziness over your next big step, collect data outside of your normal circles.
Step 2: Get in touch with your touchy-feely side.
…Even if you’re not a touchy-feely person. I used to approach my business head first, heart second. And that led to doing a lot of things I thought I was supposed to do, rather the things that were actually right for me. You’re a unique lil’ butterfly. You’ve gotta find the right fit.
So you have the input, now you have to process it. Grab a journal and be wildly honest with yourself, then pay attention to how your body responds. Does something set off fireworks in your brain? Does something else have you suddenly craving your distraction of choice—food, social media, alcohol, whatever it takes to not confront that thought?
Confront it anyway, and learn from it. Your body knows what’s up—even when you don’t.
Step 3: Shrink the first step.
You’ll eventually come upon an idea that feels right. It makes you excited. You finally have a direction! Clarity! Everything is sparkly!
But the funny thing about big ideas is that they’re, well, big. And you can’t start with big. Big things are hard to test and even harder to course-correct.
Take an idea for an online course, for example. You have a grand vision of a course that will teach your customers how to design their own website in one week. It’s got modules on how to choose colors, design a logo, set up a WordPress site, what to put on each page…
But don’t start with that. Instead, what’s the smallest piece you can offer? Can you sell a 2-hour workshop on how to design a basic branding suite? Can you offer 60-minute, one-on-one branding consultations? These baby steps will give you the data you need to know that you’re moving in the right direction. Prove the small pieces first, and you’ll know that the big vision will work too.
What do you need clarity on right now?