As I write this posting, I’m just off of a phone conversation with a coaching client who wants to find a professional activity that is fulfilling and fits her life. She is overwhelmed by the all different choices she has and all the different direction she could follow.

My client knows the advantages and disadvantages of each option by heart now, but that is not helping her get unstuck, and she is tired of going around in circles.

I suggested that she shifted the focus from these possible paths to looking inwards first, to understanding herself. In that way, she can create a guide that will later help her choose a direction that is more aligned with who she is and that naturally feels more balanced.

I thought this might help other people create their own compasses too. We can’t do a full session on a blog post 😉 but just for you to start playing, I borrowed 15 distinctions from Rich Litvin*.

It’s actually fun to do! And it works as a conversation starter with your teens to replace the old “how was school today?” 😉

Ok, here they are.

Choose which of the options or distinctions* below best describes you.

1. Lark vs Owl

Are you a morning person or an evening person?

2. Marathoner vs Sprinter vs Procrastinator

Do you like to work at a slow and steady clip? Or do you consciously choose to work in quick bursts of intense effort and deliberately wait for the pressure of a deadline to sharpen your thinking? Or else, you work at the last minute but you actually hate the pressure this feels like and you agonize over the work you’re not doing?

3. Experiences vs Things to Use

Do you prefer to spend your money on experiences (eg. a movie, a vacation, a parachute jump, learning to cook, learning to fly) or on things to use (eg. gadgets, clothes, office supplies, stuff for your kitchen, furniture, artwork)?

4. Simplicity lover vs Abundance lover

Do you prefer empty shelves and spartan rooms? Do you prefer a full pantry, fridge, shelves and highly decorated rooms?

5. Finisher vs Opener

Do you prefer completing projects or starting them?

6. Familiarity lover vs Novelty lover

Do you like going to familiar restaurants or discovering new ones? What about your holidays, what energizes you the most, a new adventure or a familiar relaxing place?

7. Promotion-focused vs Prevention-focused

Are you motivated more by getting more love, praise and pleasure or by fulfilling your duties, minimizing pain, loss and criticism?

8. Like small steps vs Like big steps

If you are restarting exercise after some time off, do you start slowly with modest steps or go all in training for a Marathon?

9. Prefer headlines vs Prefer details

Do you prefer summaries and get overwhelmed by details? Or are you good with spreadsheets, databases and will spot a tiny mistake with ease and pleasure?

10. Prefer individual contact vs Prefer bigger crowds

11. Plan vs Action

Are you good at the planning side or are you more action-focused?

12. Imagination vs Physical

Do you enjoy physically rearranging things at home or imagining/planning it?

13. Front vs Back of the curtains

Do you feel alive being on a stage or on video or giving a presentation? Or do you enjoy creating the magic behind the scenes?

14. Away from vs Towards

Do you get in action by channelling your anger, irritation, fear, or frustration as a motivator to get you going? Or do you get in touch with your dreams, desires or a vivid vision of the future in order to get in action?

15. What’s your Love Language

Which of these five ways to express and experience love is more you? (from the book The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman).

  1. Receiving gifts
  2. Quality time
  3. Words of affirmation
  4. Acts of service
  5. Physical touch

I hope this list of distinctions help guide your future choices and help you eliminate options that may look good on paper but will end up feeling like a burden.

If this exercise got you energized, leave a comment below about where you stand or how it helps you make a specific choice.


*You can find his full article on Rich Litvin’s site http://www.richlitvin.com under blogs:“The #1 Secret of Great Leadership (+ 26 Questions to Help You Master It!)”

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