What Is It?
An internal compass is a steady and true guide that lets you know if you’re on the right track – a north star that’s unique to you. Your internal compass guides and reaffirms your words, actions and responses. When you’re on course, you feel lighter and happier. You feel aligned internally and externally. There is no (or minimal) friction between your thoughts, emotions and actions. One might say you have a greater sense of peace and feel more centered.
When you’re not following your inner guidance, something feels ‘off’ or not quite right. You know in your heart which actions to take and which decisions to make, but you choose differently. Bubbles of misalignment may start to stir, causing a discomfort or discontent. Eventually, not honoring your inner guidance can lead to depression and anger – towards yourself and others.
Why Is It Important?
Especially during challenging times and when there is much change out in the world (as there is currently on many levels), looking inward and relying on your internal compass can provide a calm within the storm. As a leader, your people are looking to you for comfort, stability and direction. You’ll be in a much better position to provide this support if you yourself are stable.
How Do You Find It?
Four Simple Steps
First, it’s not difficult to (re)connect with your inner compass. It’s always there and active, you just have to listen.
Second, it’s not a one and done. Think of it as a garden you need to tend ongoingly for the best results.
Third, here are some practical ways to jumpstart a (re)connection with your internal compass. Taking a look at these areas helps to reaffirm who you are and what kind of impact you want to have in the world, which serves to align your compass with your activities. Invest some time with each of these steps, preferably during some quiet time by yourself. Journal your thoughts – in a notebook or on your computer.
- What really matters to you? Take time to pick your top five values and prioritize them. Look at the what and uncover the why for each, which will anchor you moving forward.
- Why are you? Yes, why are you. For the sake of what are you in the world (e.g., to create innovative technology that solves healthcare issues or climate change, to re-engineer an educational system that supports learning all, etc.) What’s your purpose in the world? You can also think of it as clarifying your personal mission.
- Take a look at how you invest your time (daily, weekly, monthly, yearly). Are you on purpose and on track? If not, what can you shift to align?
Fourth, let yourself tune in every day to your internal compass. It’s all in the listening. You might start by carving out specific time to hear your inner guidance (as little as 5 minutes in the morning or evening). Practice throughout the day with small decisions (what to have for lunch) and then move to larger decisions and actions (look for another job or make a change in your relationship). It’s the listening and honoring your inner voice that matters. As with a garden, cultivating produces results. In this case, it can be a greater sense of ease, calm and confidence.