When my clients come to me, some have done quite a bit of work on themselves. They have a good connection to their inner guidance. They’ve got what I call the inside view—an understanding of what they need and want in the next phase of their work-life.

But they still do not feel all the way clear.  

There is a good reason for this.

To get clear about what’s next, you must also get the outside view.

In 2002, Princeton psychologist Daniel Kahneman won the Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences for his insights into how humans make decisions in the face of uncertainty. One of his many insights was that to make good decisions, we need to get what he called the Outside View. Kahneman defines the outside view as data that demonstrates what has happened in similar cases. 

When it comes to creating a work-life you love, the outside view is an understanding of:

  1. What the people you want to serve, work with, and collaborate with need and are willing to pay for,
  2. What has worked and not work for other people who’ve pursued similar paths to the one you’re considering, and
  3. Any other information about the work-life you’re considering that might help you make a good decision. 

The Outside View Meets the Inside View

A fulfilling and impactful career lives at the intersection between what you long to offer and what they long to receive. 

To find this sweet spot, you must get both the inside view and the outside view.

You can think of the process of getting clear as an infinity loop that moves forward over time. On one side of the infinity loop, you get the inside view. On the other side, you get the outside view. Where they come together is the moment you make a choice or take your next step.

Inside View > Choice > Outside View

Here’s how this works in real life: 

My client Rosie wanted to help people experience greater health and set out to become a health coach. A year or so into her journey of entrepreneurship, she was still struggling to attract clients. So, she reached out to me for help.  

At the beginning of our work, I asked Rosie who she most longed to serve (inside view!). She said, folks with chronic illness. She also longed to work in a team environment, and she missed this in her private practice.

I encouraged Rosie to interview people with chronic illness and folks who support them (outside view!). 

Through the interviews, Rosie realized that most of her ideal clients struggled financially and could not pay for out-of-pocket coaching. She got curious about how she might answer her calling to work with folks with chronic illness and her need for a team. 

Once Rosie sensed that she’d interviewed enough people, she paused and asked herself what she really wanted (inside view!). She decided to shift paths and enroll in a full-time social work program. 

Soon after, Rosie began working as a therapist in an integrated community mental health clinic where she is part of a team addressing the emotional, physical, and practical needs of individuals. And although the work is challenging, her needs for contribution and community are far better met than they were in her health coaching practice.

Asking What Does the Situation Need?

One way to gather the outside view is to ask the question: What does the situation need?

The situation comprises many interrelated elements such as you, other people, an organization, a family, a place, time, the challenge itself, the end-goal, and what would be in the highest good for all involved. Together, the elements form a whole, the situation.

For example, let’s say that you just started working from home and your partner keeps interrupting you. When you get the inside view, you may notice that you need focus, time to get things done, respect for your space, and connection with your partner. 

The elements in the situation might include you, your partner, your relationship, your work, and possibly other elements as well. When you get the outside view and ask what the situation needs, you may see that certain agreements would help you, your partner, and your relationship breathe a collective sigh of relief.

This question can feel complicated because Western culture teaches us to focus on the individual rather than seeing the whole. This question challenges us to sense the entire system.

If life is calling you to do work that changes systems—helping domestic abusers stop using violence, reducing drug use rates in young people, reclaiming Indigenous languages—learning to sense what a situation needs will serve you immensely. 

So, how about you?

First, grab your journal and a pen. And settle your body.

Then think of a big decision that you’re trying to make. It may be really big, like trying to decide whether to quit your job and pursue something new. Or it may be as simple as how to spend your kiddo’s February break. Either way, pick something.

Next, ask yourself: What do I need in this situation? Write down what comes up, and keep writing until you feel complete.

Next, ask yourself: What does this situation need? Again, write down what comes up. 

Then, ask yourself: Are there any questions I need to ask? And of whom? 

Usually, it’s impossible to get the outside view on our own. We need to ask questions of other people.

So, given the information you’ve gathered on your own, what’s your next step? You may be ready to make a decision. Or you may need to hear from other people first. Either way, I encourage you to go take your next step now (or as soon as possible).

Sending you lots of encouragement and love,


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