Find Your Compass

Imagine you’re setting sail tomorrow. You have all the supplies. You’ve planned your finances for the time off. You have a mix of clothes for any type of weather. Lastly, you have a detailed map.

You’re filled with excitement as the ship pushes away from the dock and out to sea. The mainsail drops and you’re off to wherever the wind takes you. Just as firm land slips behind the horizon, your stomach knots. You feel the pang of regret rush through your body. You forgot to bring your compass.

Dead-end jobs. The super senior college student toiling on yet another major. The investor bouncing from one shiny object investment to the next—interrupting the power of compounding with every erratic change. These are all results of having a map with no compass—having a strategy with no defined values.

According to a survey done by the Harvard Business Review, nearly 60% of employees complained about their company failing to have or communicate a clear mission.

Director of MIT Media Lab, Joi Lito, writes in his book, Whiplash: How to Survive Our Faster Future:

“In an increasing unpredictable world moving ever more quickly, a detailed map may lead you deep into the woods at an unnecessarily high cost. A good compass, though, will always take you where you need to go.”

Having a map with no compass is like having a strategy with no why. That’s a quick way to find yourself in endless circles wondering why you’re not making progress. Or even worse, you make progress on paper while still feeling hollow.

If your values are your compass, you need to uncover and understand them. You need to continually reflect and review them and recalibrate your course accordingly. It takes a little effort but it’s well worth it. Take some time to go through a values exercise. Then regularly assess if your actions are in alignment with your why.

Your values are the foundation of your plan—your version of success. Well-defined values—the why behind your strategy—is the first giant step toward reaching your goals. And remember, they are your goals. One of the hardest parts of success is being ok with its definition differing from that of someone else’s. There is no one definition.

You’ve made it when you’re mostly living your life according to your values. You will never be perfect. That’s ok. It’s never been easier to get distracted and drift away from where you want to be. Give yourself a little grace. Then make your next action an action that puts you back on course. Always remember to turn back to your compass.

Here’s to making money matter!