Reposted in October 2012 with permission by Linda Edgecombe
“But I don’t know what I want!”
I’ve heard this so many times over the years of coaching people. It can be really daunting to be asked the simple question, “What do you want?”
As one lady said to me when I asked her that four-word question, “Colin, I know what my boss wants. I know what my husband wants. I know what my children want. But I haven’t got a clue what I want!!!”
You may relate?
We all go through this. Me included. I’ve hit this roadblock many times in my life and the accompanying feelings of confusion, frustration and loss of hope that go with it.
What I’m saying is, if your biggest roadblock is lack of clarity, you’re not alone!
Many people are surprised to discover that becoming clear about what their right and perfect life is not a one-time event. It’s a process. My experience is clarity comes in layers; few of us have an epiphany!
One of my guiding beliefs is that there is a part in all of us that knows exactly what we want. In fact, I’ve never worked with anyone who doesn’t know what they really want. But I’ve worked with lots of people who believe they don’t know!
But where does that belief come from?
Well, over the years I’ve narrowed it down to 7 reasons we believe we don’t know what we want…
“Some people drift through their entire life. They do it one day at a time, one week at a time, and one month at a time. It happens so gradually they are unaware of how their lives are slipping away until it’s too late.” – Mary Kay Ash
The Top 7 Reasons We Think We Don’t Know What We Want
#1. Suppressing Our True Desires.
Many of us have been trained and conditioned to believe that “success” is fame, fortune or both and that contentment follows it. Yet we only need to look in the papers each day to see many people who have acquired much fame and fortune who are actually quite miserable. That’s not the fault of fame and fortune itself, but rather, the idea that pursuing it equals happiness.
The 2012 Towers Watson Global Workforce Survey has revealed nearly two-thirds (65%) of the more than 32,000 full-time workers participating in their study are not highly engaged. That’s a lot of people!!!
If you find yourself in this camp there will be a variety of reasons for it. But there is a high probability that, before you got to that level of dissatisfaction, you’ve spent years suppressing your real desires beneath layers of conditioning, habits and beliefs.
So by the time you start deliberately thinking about what you want the flame of your desires has been blown out long ago.
2. Fear of Failure.
Today more than ever we live in a culture of perfection. It is very limiting to live this way. However, the worst part is that it is debilitating where embarking on a new life path is concerned.
Because we adopt belief systems that make “failure” unacceptable, we become unwilling to set about on a different path. Those ideas are what actually hold us back rather than the aspect of failure itself.
We often sabotage ourselves with these unrealistic belief systems because not knowing is scary, as is not having a guarantee. But there are no guarantees in life and never were. Much like people who enjoy wallowing in discomfort, it is simpler to float along in a sea of potential and possibility than it is to start rowing toward a joyful and fulfilling life.
3. A Phobia of Setting Goals!
There is a big difference between “making it happen’ and “effortlessly living.” Some people are turned off (even have a phobia) by the idea of setting goals because they associate it with typical type A behaviors – driven, over-striving and competitive.
There is nothing wrong with having goals for certain things. Using goals is a great way to get everyday tasks done. However, intentional living is different. It’s deeper. It’s more connected to the core of who we are and it doesn’t require us to be a driven maniac!
4. Lack of Focus due to Clutter.
One of the most common reasons that people believe they don’t know what they want is because they can’t see the forest through the trees. Our society tends to insinuate that we can’t get what we want for a variety of reasons.
Perhaps the lifestyle we want is different from a traditional 9-5 existence or deals more with creation than sheer action and visible accomplishments. So we deal with that by forgetting about what we really want, instead trying to fit into the box that someone else lives in.
When we do this, our lives feel empty and we need to fill them with something. We even decide that we want what other people have, just to fit in. Then we go about populating our lives and spaces with these things — and even people. When all of your life space is filled up with stuff, it is impossible to uncover what your true desires or intentions are.
5. Lack of Time Management.
Time is our greatest, often most abused resource. Much like clutter, we tend to spend it on activities that perhaps try to make up for an otherwise boring existence. The truth is that people who have found fulfilment are never bored. They’re too busy creating to be in a state of apathy.
To accomplish anything, we have to get a handle on how time is spent. This holds true both for finding a new path and then maintaining it. The key is to find creative solutions that encompass fulfilling responsibilities while still having the time to explore to find out what you want.
6. Inadequate Personal Care.
Many people have a tendency to not want to think about what they want due to exhaustion. We live in a 24 hour a day world that continues cycling such that it often feels like a gigantic hamster wheel. Compared to some European lifestyles, Americans just don’t get enough rest and relaxation. It’s a deadly game of keeping up just to keep up.
It’s fine to serve others, but we must also serve ourselves. The best analogy to this is on airplanes, we are told to first put the oxygen mask on ourselves, before assisting anyone else. There’s a reason for that; if you aren’t breathing, you cant help anyone else to breathe either. If only we did this in life, as well. It really is common sense, but too often, we put everyone else before ourselves.
7. Unwillingness to Experiment.
Many people feel very comforted by “the sure thing.” But the fact is that life is what happens. Because of this, we have to be flexible enough to actually get out and be in our lives. It takes ingenuity to develop anything new and this applies to figuring out what you really want. You won’t know unless you try new things. Until then, your life will always be what you had before.
Do you recognize yourself in the above scenarios? If the answer is yes, you’ll appreciate the following remedies.
“You cannot change your destination overnight, but you can change your direction overnight.” – Jim Rohn
9 Essential Ways to Clarify What You Really Want
Here is your chance to bust the belief, “I don’t know what I want!” The following remedies have been used to coach my clients so that they may clarify what they want in their lives and arrive at their truest intentions.
1. Small chunk your life
Rather that starting off with the “Big Picture,” consider each aspect of your life. The big four are – Health, Wealth, Love and Lifestyle. You can even break each aspect down. Health could be made up of mind, body, emotions and spirit. Decide what your current intentions are for each part of it. Think about the current day, week, month and over the course of the year. Write them down, keep them with you and remind yourself what they are periodically during each day.
2. Using your knowledge of what you don’t want.
The Law of Attraction is clear on never focusing on what we don’t want. However, in the case of designing a new life path, it can be very useful to take a look at what you don’t want.
Make a list of what you don’t want and then pivot it to what you do want. An example might be, “I don’t want to be single anymore.” Once pivoted it becomes, “I want to be in a deep and meaningful relationship.” Once you get clarity on what you want scratch out what you don’t want so that it doesn’t interfere with your true intentions.
I know this exercise sounds very simplistic but give it a try. You might be surprised!
Once you have an idea of what you want, focus on it regularly. This can be done by quietly sitting in a daydream like space. Imagine whatever it is until you feel an inward smile and sense of peace. Continually access that place throughout each day.
Let yourself exude the feeling you would get if you had what you want and hold on to it for as long as possible. It doesn’t matter how long; the goal is to get into the habit of thinking about it. Visualisation is actually a validation of your desires. Since validation creates positive energy, this designs an environment where the seeds of your creativity can thrive to grow into actualities.
4. Become aware what energises you.
Take note of the things that delight you. Do them regularly by taking little breaks throughout the day. They will lead to larger picture desires that have been shunted aside. Be patient, as your deepest desires still need time to surface, just like an old friend who you’re trying to regain the trust of.
5. Stay focused on what you want.
Be careful not to be get sidetracked with other people’s lives. It is easy to become jealous with envy, given this society’s tendency to focus so much upon materialism – especially since so much energy is focused on determining someone’s worth by what they have.
Coveting what someone else has is a waste of your time. Remaining on track with your own life is how you will figure out what you really want. Chances are, you don’t really want what it is you think you do anyway. It is only by focusing on your own life that you will get to where you wish to be.
6. Use your financial goals.
Your wealth goals are a wonderful place to start. Although, for some (especially females) the thought of having wealth and abundance goals causes all kinds of uncomfortable emotions. We are sometimes taught that having financial goals is not very “spiritual.”
Money and wealth, when used to good ends is a wonderful thing. There is nothing wrong with having financial desires. Wealth is perfectly acceptable, particularly if your goal is to be of service to others. Attracting wealth for a better life and to enrich others makes all the difference.
7. Get clear on your values.
Put simply, your values are the things that are really important to you. You can use your values to get some clarity by recalling times in your life where you were proud, confident and happy. When you think about the two or three specific events ask yourself the question what do I value about those experiences. For example, I might think of a time at work when I was successful. The question may bring about the answer, independence, team work, and making a difference.
If you are looking for deeper process to find your core values, you’ll enjoy this blog post: How to find your core values in 5 steps.
8. Make “self care” a priority.
It may seem like a given, but so many times, people neglect themselves while pursuing their lives. While we are spiritual at our core, we still live inside of bodies that need to be taken care of. The body needs enough sleep, water, food and exercise to operate properly. Ignoring those things will create an imbalance that can lead to illness.
Also, when we are rundown, it is harder to focus. It’s like a car that never gets maintenance; eventually it will just run itself out. Ironically, people often take better care of their cars than they do themselves.
Also, it is during those restful, peaceful times that our creative energy comes into view. Without those respites, it is impossible to get in touch with how we feel, let alone have the energy to pursue what we want.
9. Create space.
Finally, remember what the Book of Runes says? Living for a time “empty” allows the time and space to find the right direction. In the process, we are able to release most of the things in our lives that are not in alignment with who we are in the process of becoming. It is the actual release that reveals who we are evolving into.
As strange as it may sound, it is that emptiness that points us in the right trajectory. The emptiness creates a cleared space for us to breathe, observe, create and formulate new inventions of ourselves. This is really because only when our minds are clear can we focus on living authentically.
Create some white space in your diary and watch what happens. You don’t have to be as extreme as we were, a weekend is a good start.
This weeks assignment:
If you feel blocked about what you want, take 30 minutes out of your busy schedule this weekend and choose to DO ONE of the previous exercises. Just choose one that feels right.
Turn off Facebook, your mobile and email. Give the exercise your full attention. Play with it. Ponder it. Write it out. You’ll soon start waking up to your true intentions! I promise.