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7 Ways To Find The Right Direction In Life

7 Ways To Find The Right Direction In Life

Finding the right direction in life is an existential problem that all of us face at some time.

Whether you’re fresh out of college and figuring out what you want to do with the rest of your 20s and beyond, or you’ve realized that the life you’re living no longer serves you, these steps will help you find direction.

1. Draw the Line Between Thinking and Over-Thinking

While taking time to think about big life decisions is, of course, important, over-thinking leads to paralysis, deferred decisions, self-doubt, and, ultimately, inaction.

With every obstacle that comes up, ask yourself: “Is this a genuine concern or am I using this as an excuse to not follow my passion because I feel scared (or insert alternative uncomfortable feeling here)?”

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2. Take Action

Finding the right direction in life is not something that happens to you, it’s something you create. This means that, at some point, you’re going to have to stop thinking about taking action and act.

One of the main reasons people don’t act is that they’re scared. They’re scared of messing up, scared of things not working out and scared of realizing that, actually, what they thought was the “right direction” isn’t right for them at all.

You have permission to change your mind. Just because you take action doesn’t mean you’re committed to that path forever. If it doesn’t work out, that’s great! At least now you know that you need to go back and try something else. Taking action, living through the disaster scenarios, and coming out the other end with more know-how and wisdom is far better than not taking action at all.

3. Trust in Your Instincts

Whether or not we should trust our instincts is a perennial debate, but at some point we do need to learn to trust our guts.

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Yes, at times your gut instinct will lead you astray. Rather than viewing this as a justification for returning to over-thinking, however, use it as a learning experience that will better attune your gut instinct next time.

4. Notice What Makes You Happy

If you know that your current life direction isn’t meeting your needs, but you’re not sure what will, start to do some self-research.

As you go through your daily life, notice when you feel most alive, most enthusiastic and most like you’re adding value. Ask yourself what activities present a positive challenge and which make time feel like it’s speeding up.

Once you have that list, make a note of the common elements between those activities.

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5. Discover Your Strengths

We all have individual strengths, but sometimes it’s hard to identify them ourselves. Because our strengths come naturally to us, we’re not always aware that not everyone has a particular trait or skill that we take for granted.

Taking a strengths test (such as the VIA Strengths Test) will give you more awareness of where your strengths lie, and perhaps a few more ideas of how you can use them to add value to the world.

6. Focus on Your Values

Just as we all have individual strengths, we also have a set of core values that are deeply important to how we live our lives. The more we’re living in alignment with our core values, the happier we will be. If we’re not conscious of what these values are, we’re not necessarily going to make the best decisions regarding our life’s direction.

To identify which values are must-haves in your life, find a list of values (such as this one) and narrow down the top 10 and top three that resonate with you. Once you’re aware of them, you’ll be better equipped to make important decisions based on these values.

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7. Surround Yourself With Supportive People

Finding the right direction in life is a rewarding challenge that can involve a lot of trial and error. To give yourself the best chance of finding your right direction, you need to surround yourself with supportive people.

Focus on what people do, rather than what they say. If someone says they have your best interests at heart but constantly tries to force their way of life or opinions on you or tells you why you can’t do what you want to do, that’s not support. Find a group of like-minded people who will respect your autonomy and still be there when you need them.

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Hannah Braime

Hannah is a coach who believes the world is a richer place when we have the courage to be fully self-expressed.

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Last Updated on May 21, 2019

How to Communicate Effectively in Any Relationship

How to Communicate Effectively in Any Relationship

For all our social media bravado, we live in a society where communication is seen less as an art, and more as a perfunctory exercise. We spend so much time with people, yet we struggle with how to meaningfully communicate.

If you believe you have mastered effective communication, scan the list below and see whether you can see yourself in any of the examples:

Example 1

You are uncomfortable with a person’s actions or comments, and rather than telling the individual immediately, you sidestep the issue and attempt to move on as though the offending behavior or comment never happened.

You move on with the relationship and develop a pattern of not addressing challenging situations. Before long, the person with whom you are in relationship will say or do something that pushes you over the top and predictably, you explode or withdraw completely from the relationship.

In this example, hard-to-speak truths become never- expressed truths that turn into resentment and anger.

Example 2

You communicate from the head and without emotion. While what you communicate makes perfect sense to you, it comes across as cold because it lacks emotion.

People do not understand what motivates you to say what you say, and without sharing your feelings and emotions, others experience you as rude, cold or aggressive.

You will know this is a problem if people shy away from you, ignore your contributions in meetings or tell you your words hurt. You can also know you struggle in this area if you find yourself constantly apologizing for things you have said.

Example 3

You have an issue with one person, but you communicate your problem to an entirely different person.

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The person in whom you confide lacks the authority to resolve the matter troubling you, and while you have vented and expressed frustration, the underlying challenge is unresolved.

Example 4

You grew up in a family with destructive communication habits and those habits play out in your current relationships.

Because you have never stopped to ask why you communicate the way you do and whether your communication style still works, you may lack understanding of how your words impact others and how to implement positive change.

If you find yourself in any of the situations described above, this article is for you.

Communication can build or decimate worlds and it is important we get it right. Regardless of your professional aspirations or personal goals, you can improve your communication skills if you:

  • Understand your own communication style
  • Tailor your style depending on the needs of the audience
  • Communicate with precision and care
  • Be mindful of your delivery, timing and messenger

1. Understand Your Communication Style

To communicate effectively, you must understand the communication legacy passed down from our parents, grandparents or caregivers. Each of us grew up with spoken and unspoken rules about communication.

In some families, direct communication is practiced and honored. In other families, family members are encouraged to shy away from difficult conversations. Some families appreciate open and frank dialogue and others do not. Other families practice silence about substantive matters, that is, they seldom or rarely broach difficult conversations at all.

Before you can appreciate the nuance required in communication, it helps to know the familial patterns you grew up with.

2. Learn Others Communication Styles

Communicating effectively requires you to take a step back, assess the intended recipient of your communication and think through how the individual prefers to be communicated with. Once you know this, you can tailor your message in a way that increases the likelihood of being heard. This also prevents you from assuming the way you communicate with one group is appropriate or right for all groups or people.

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If you are unsure how to determine the styles of the groups or persons with whom you are interacting, you can always ask them:

“How do you prefer to receive information?”

This approach requires listening, both to what the individuals say as well as what is unspoken. Virgin Group CEO Richard Branson noted that the best communicators are also great listeners.

To communicate effectively from relationship to relationship and situation to situation, you must understand the communication needs of others.

3. Exercise Precision and Care

A recent engagement underscored for me the importance of exercising care when communicating.

On a recent trip to Ohio, I decided to meet up with an old friend to go for a walk. As we strolled through the soccer park, my friend gently announced that he had something to talk about, he was upset with me. His introduction to the problem allowed me to mentally shift gears and prepare for the conversation.

Shortly after introducing the shift in conversation, my friend asked me why I didn’t invite him to the launch party for my business. He lives in Ohio and I live in the D.C. area.

I explained that the event snuck up on me, and I only started planning the invite list three weeks before the event. Due to the last-minute nature of the gathering, I opted to invite people in the DMV area versus my friends from outside the area – I didn’t want to be disrespectful by asking them to travel on such short notice.

I also noted that I didn’t want to be disappointed if he and others declined to come to the event. So I played it safe in terms of inviting people who were local.

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In the moment, I felt the conversation went very well. I also checked in with my friend a few days after our walk, affirmed my appreciation for his willingness to communicate his upset and our ability to work through it.

The way this conversation unfolded exemplified effective communication. My friend approached me with grace and vulnerability. He approached me with a level of curiosity that didn’t put me on my heels — I was able to really listen to what he was saying, apologize for how my decision impacted him and vow that going forward, I would always ask rather than making decisions for him and others.

Our relationship is intact, and I now have information that will help me become a better friend to him and others.

4. Be Mindful of Delivery, Timing and Messenger

Communicating effectively also requires thinking through the delivery of the message one intends to communicate as well as the appropriate time for the discussion.

In an Entrepreneur.com column, VIP Contributor Deep Patel, noted that persons interested in communicating well need to master the art of timing. Patel noted,[1]

“Great comedians, like all great communicators, are able to feel out their audience to determine when to move on to a new topic or when to reiterate an idea.”

Communicating effectively also requires thoughtfulness about the messenger. A person prone to dramatic, angry outbursts should never be called upon to deliver constructive feedback, especially to people whom they do not know. The immediate aftermath of a mass shooting is not the ideal time to talk about the importance of the Second Amendment rights.

Like everyone else, I must work to ensure my communication is layered with precision and care.

It requires precision because words must be carefully tailored to the person with whom you are speaking.

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It requires intentionality because before one communicates, one should think about the audience and what the audience needs in order to hear your message the way you intended it to be communicated.

It requires active listening which is about hearing verbal and nonverbal messages.

Even though we may be right in what we say, how we say it could derail the impact of the message and the other parties’ ability to hear the message.

Communicating with care is also about saying things that the people in our life need to hear and doing so with love.

The Bottom Line

When I left the meeting with my dear friend, I wondered if I was replicating or modeling this level of openness and transparency in the rest of my relationships.

I was intrigued and appreciative. He’d clearly thought about what he wanted to say to me, picked the appropriate time to share his feedback and then delivered it with care. He hit the ball out of the park and I’m hopeful we all do the same.

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Featured photo credit: Kenan Buhic via unsplash.com

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