When things are unclear, so unclear that you feel like you’ll never understand how you will ever get clarity, you are probably operating under one or more of three false assumptions.  Check this out.

What I dream about is what I want.

I can solve this in my head.

Getting what I want is a 50:50 proposition.

How many times have you let your mind wander and thought about how you’d like your life to be, knowing full well that it’s a pipe dream.  You’ve read about people who have a dream that drives them, but that itself seems like a fantasy.  So what’s the difference between a pipe dream and a dream that drives you?  In real life we all are driven by dreams, some bad dreams and some good, but in either case they are not pipe dreams.  The more real the dreams are the more they drive us.  Think about it.  When was the last time that you repeated a cycle of nonproductive behavior that you felt helpless to get out of?  What was driving you?  I’d call it a bad dream.  Now, think of a time when you were doing something you really enjoyed and felt you were doing superbly well.  What was driving you then?  Were you not connecting with something powerful inside you that moved you, drove you?

Unfortunately many of us do not have clarity about either the nightmares that drive us nor the dreams that we would like to have but don’t.  Why?  Because we put the brakes on, not wanting to be foolish by entertaining pipe dreams.  The result?  We do not really know what we want.  We never really get that far into the conversation with ourselves.

What can change all that?  What can get us to risk honestly asking the question, “What do I really want?”

It’s a step that many of us avoid like the plague.  It reminds me of what I had to do in elementary or high school.  Remember this?  Work the problem out on paper.  I remember thinking, why do that when I know the answer?  I don’t have to work it out on paper.

Well, here’s a news flash.  When your problem is big enough it can only be solved by taking a lot of  small steps.   Showing how the small steps add up gives hope.  And that showing part is what is hard to do in your head.  So, you need to put it on paper or on a spread sheet or something that you can see so that you can have any hope of getting what you want.   You might as well just get over the notion that you can do it in your head.  Like the story problem it needs to be worked out on paper — show your work.

OK, so I know what I want.  I see how the small steps add up to get me where I want to go.  Isn’t that enough?  Not quite.  There’s one more myth out there that might still trip you up.  It’s the notion that you  are only partially responsible for taking the steps.  The only steps you can be sure will be taken are steps that you take.  “If it is to be it is up to me.”  That means that what I really want I need to find a way to do myself.  I need to take the steps that I worked out on paper.

When I finished that conversation inside myself about what I didn’t want — the nightmare — and what I did want — the dream, and when I talked myself through the process of putting it down on paper, voila! I knew what I had to do.  And I knew that I would find a way to do it.