If you want three things to focus on in any venture, you can do a lot worse than focus on direction, position and efficiency.
They sound quite abstract things. Not as sexy as some of the suggestions you will read in business or self-help books. But many people’s issues boil down to a combination of these three factors, and many business and personal projects can be helpfully reduced to these three themes.
Direction refers to a statement of values and intent. Here, we are trying to work out where we are going. In business, this is the core of a strategic plan. In psychological assessment, it is getting a feel for where a person seems to be heading, and also for where that person would be happiest to go in the future. If, for the client, there is a discrepancy between the two, then the job of a therapist may be to help the client to manage their direction, until they feel more in control, and that they are travelling to a happier place.
Position refers to an assessment, or inventory, of current state. We are trying to assess what exists, and where it finds itself. In accountancy, this is the value of a ‘balance sheet’, which is an attempt to quantify, in monetary terms, the position of a business. Whenever I help an individual financially, I work with them to appraise their current position, and to face it honestly. In psychological assessment, the same thing applies. It helps to start with establishing who is here, and what they feel their situation is.
Once we know direction and position, we can work on efficiency. Efficiency makes no sense unless we know these two things: how can you be aware whether you are travelling efficiently or inefficiently, if you have no idea where you are or where you are going? In accountancy, this is the value of a profit and loss account. In monetary terms, it quantifies the degree to which a venture is ‘profiting’ – gaining positive momentum beyond its daily burden. In therapy, increase in efficiency is represented by those moments when a client might realise that they are wasting a lot of energy on things that do not help them to get to a happier place.
A POWERFUL TRIANGLE
Together, these three aspects of living make a powerful means of review. In any situation, you can ask these three questions:
What is our direction? How might we interpret our world in terms of positive and negative? What are we aiming for?
What is our position? What are our assets and liabilities? Our strengths and weaknesses? Our opportunities and threats?
Are we travelling efficiently? Are we gaining more than we are losing? Can we reduce tangles, confusions and burdens? Can we increase simplicity, clarity and lightness?
What is my current direction in the world? Where am I going? What, for me, is a ‘happy place’? Is it represented by money, or personal pleasure, or helping others, or achieving a particular goal? Am I content with my concept of happiness, or is it always tripping me up? Do I need to contemplate further what exactly I mean by happiness?
What is my current position in the world? If I have thought through an idea of what is a happy direction, then where do I stand, right now, in relation to that set of values? If I were to list out all my current advantages and disadvantages – to do an inventory of myself – what would I find? What are the raw materials I have to work with: what body, what brain, what mind, what attitude, what resources?
How can I be more efficient in the world? Am I wasting time and energy on things that don’t move me towards a happier place? How can I learn to drop those wasteages, and focus on more efficient practices? How can I make life simpler? How can I make things clearer? How can I make things lighter and easier?