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  • Writer's pictureAmba Brown

Decision Making - Using A Compass Vs GPS To Find Your True North

Are you using a compass or GPS to guide you through all things life? There’s a big difference between the two. Let me explain.

A GPS provides a highlighted route and step-by-step directions to arrive at a predetermined destination. You enter the address of where you’re going and it knows where you are currently. It will simply highlight a route to show how to get from point A to point B. Two people who have the same beginning and end locations will take the exact same path.

A compass, on the other hand, provides guidance via true north from the starting location. However, the destination is optional and the journey is yet to be determined. With a compass, two people who start in the same place could easily end up in two very different destinations due to their own personal true north and an openness to an unlikely journey. This is what determines the outcome.

Finding Your True North

By now, you’re probably asking, how do I know what my true north is? It’s the thing you desire in life more than anything else. It’s the one thing that, if you lost everything else, you’d still be okay if you held onto this one thing. For some people it might be money or recognition, for others it might be family or security.

True north is different for everyone. Even if someone has the same true north as you, the outcome will always be different because the conceptualization varies from person to person.

Finding your true north takes a lot of reflection, self-awareness, honest conversations, and what I like to call personal bluntness. Let’s dig in to begin finding your true north.

Start by selecting one thing that is most important to you. What is the one thing you absolutely cannot live without? The one thing that, if you lost everything else, you’d still be okay if you had this left?

Once you’ve identified this, ask yourself, “what does this one thing bring into my life?” Write your answer on a sheet of paper, or in a note on your phone.

After you’ve acknowledged what it brings to your life, ask yourself again, “what does this new one thing bring into my life?” Again, write your answer on a sheet of paper or in a note on your phone.

Now ask yourself one more time, “what does this new third thing bring into my life?”

You might find it challenging to answer this same question multiple times, but that's a good thing. It means that you’re getting closer to your true north. It means you're digging deeper and starting to get honest with yourself. You just have a little more work to do until you truly identify it. Be persistent and keep asking yourself “what does this new thing bring into my life?”

Verifying Your True North

Once you’ve done all of this work and you feel you’ve identified your true north, here’s another way to know whether you've really peeled back all of the layers or if you’re still sitting on the surface.

Ask yourself these questions:

How does this true north impact my family life?

How does this true north impact my work?

How does this true north impact my health?

How does this true north impact my spiritual life, if I have one?

How does this true north impact my relationships with friends?

How does this true north impact my social life?

How does this true north impact me?

You see, your true north is something that guides all aspects of your life, not just certain components. So if you’ve found yourself having a hard time answering some of these questions with your true north, go back and dig deeper.

Leveraging Your True North

Now that you’ve identified your true north, you should be leveraging it to guide your decisions.

First, you want to ask yourself if the decision you are about to make is in alignment with your true north. If the answer is yes, then get on it! If the answer is no, it’s time to evaluate further.

Notice I didn’t say don’t do it. It’s not that simple. Sometimes we have to do things in the moment that are unappealing, uncomfortable or maybe even impractical to get you, or keep you, on your path towards your true north.

This is when my second question comes into play. Will it get you closer to your true north? When the answer is yes, take action. At that point, if the answer is no, that’s when you don’t do it.

If a decision is not currently in line with your true north or it does not get you closer to achieving your true north in the future, let it go.

This chart describes the process.

Making Decisions

The process of switching to a compass, identifying your true north, verifying your true north, and leveraging your true north is not an overnight process. It takes time (sometimes years) just to identify your true north. Although, when you find it, it is the most freeing tool you will ever use. Decision making becomes so much simpler, clarity is brought to your goals, and setting boundaries becomes a cake walk.

Share with us what your true north is, so we can cheer one another along our journey.

Written by Brittany Salsman, Founder and Owner Life Lived by Design

About the Author:

Brittany is a former educator who owns a coaching business. Her Masters Degree is in Higher Education, College Student Development, and she now works with students and young professionals to reverse engineer their lives for fulfillment.


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