Blog post

Clarity Comes From Action, Not Thought

August 19, 2017

I’ve spent my entire life trying to make sense.

Make sense of myself. So I can make sense to others.

I’ve always… “had a lot of interests”. I thought that made me confusing, and people don’t like to be confused. I wanted to be easy to understand.

“Wait, she’s studying financial planning? Wasn’t she working at a craft shop?”

“You’re at a finch start-up now? Oh. I always thought you were going to be a fashion designer.”

I hated that. I hated feeling like I had to explain myself. I wanted to fit neatly in a box so no one would have to go through the mental gymnastics of reconciling my seemingly conflicting interests.

I wanted to find my one thing. My calling. My elevator pitch.

So I could present myself to the world all, “Here. It’s me.”

After extensive list making (oh man, I do love a good list) I narrowed my options down to a few career and business ideas I felt excited about. I just needed to choose. I felt like the whole world was telling me to choose.

“You have to decide what you want to be know for. People hire specialists, not generalists.”

“You’ll never get good at anything unless you’re focused.”

“People aren’t going to take you seriously if you keep changing your mind like that, Kate.”

I thought once I knew what my thing was, once I decided which rabbit hole to go down, the rest would be simple and the shame would go away.

But I couldn’t pick (spoiler, I still can’t pick). And I didn’t want to appear scattered or unfocused by doing a little bit of everything.

So I waited…

Waited for a sign, for clarity. Waited for an answer.

Let me tell you something, dear internet, clarity doesn’t come from thinking about The Things, clarity comes from doing The Things.

So I turned myself into a science experiment. (Because that felt like a legit, sensible approach.)

What if I gave myself permission to run in a bunch of different directions. What if I just—in the name of science, of course—let myself be the person who thinks about new retail models for makers and who writes about money and who does marketing for small businesses and who spins her own yarn and who talks about mental health and who takes pictures of falling down buildings and who makes YouTube videos.

What if took all the energy I’ve been spending trying to choose and put it towards action? What if I let myself focus on problems without getting hung up on solutions?

Well, so far the experiment has been pretty fascinating…

By getting out of my head and actually acting on my instincts—by having coffee with makers I admire to figure out what model would serve them and by taking on new clients in different industries and by recording my first YouTube video—I’m starting to see that all these passions of mine aren’t so divergent after all.

I like discovering things. People, places, products… Stuff that make me say, “Oh, that’s good. How don’t people know about this?!” I like sharing those things and telling their stories. I like teaching and connecting people.

That’s marketing.

And great marketing is art. Which, ultimately, is what I’m after. More art in the world.

See?? It’s all coming together.

If only I could go back and tell my teenage self the good news.


Oh look, a falling down barn. My favourite. Taken somewhere near Markham… I think? 

P.S. I first heard the “clarity comes from engagement not thought” thing from Marie Forleo. She’s great.

(Originally published on katesmalley.com.)

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