Take a Step Back! Look to These 7 Questions for a New Sense of Clarity

Zen Buddhism teaches the concept of a “beginner’s mind”—meaning to have “an attitude of openness, eagerness and a lack of preconceptions just as a beginner would.”

It’s that state of mind you exhibit any time you embark on something new – while there’s a clear sense of purpose, the mind is uncluttered and open to all possibilities.

Many advisors begin exploring new opportunities with a beginner’s mind, but lose sight along the way of what prompted them to perform due diligence in the first place; that is, what it is that they’re seeking to accomplish.

Even with the best-laid plans, it’s easy to lose one’s way or get caught up in the weeds, leaving many confused and indecisive, just as they’re nearing the finish line. And no wonder: With more models to choose from and a changing regulatory environment, navigating the expanded industry landscape can certainly be mind-boggling.

Taking a Step Back in Order to Move Forward

Cleaning the slate mid-way through the process – that is, taking everything you’ve learned to date and shelving it, even for just a little while – can help you attain the clarity you need to ensure you make the right decision. Revisiting your goals will allow you to look at the options with a beginner’s mind, that state at which you jumped into exploration mode, focused on the questions rather than the answers.

So, on your journey to find a new home, hit pause momentarily and – rather than ask where you’re going – ask why?

With your newly opened mind, consider the answers to these 7 questions:

  • What frustrations and challenges prompted me to take action in the first place?
  • Am I still dealing with limitations that are preventing me from servicing my clients and growing my business? On a scale of 1 to 10, what tangible impact are these limitations having on my business?
  • What are my goals both professionally and personally? (Prioritize the “must haves”.)
  • Where do I see myself 10 years from now? Do I envision myself at my current firm or elsewhere?
  • What are my concerns and fears?
  • Is now the right time?
  • Can I ultimately see myself making a move?
  • Performing due diligence takes time and it’s very easy to get distracted or even complacent along the way, losing sight of the big picture. Returning to where you started will allow you to consider the possibilities with a clear mind.


    Keep in mind that you control where you feel your clients will be best served and ultimately how you want to live your business life. Staying put is always an option, provided it best serves you and your clients.

    So as you near the end of this process, one question remains: Will you accept your challenges with a renewed perspective and commitment to your firm, or is it time to spring into action?