Knowing what you want is a question which plagues much of life. It underpins many modern day anxieties that we carry about bubbling beneath the surface.
On the surface, the idea of “wanting” can appear selfish and a slave to a never ending list of grass is greener desires. But there is a deeper insight that we can gain. And in this episode we move the question along from “do you actually know what you want?” to the more subtle questions that I believe we’re actually asking: “do you truly know what brings you joy and contentment? Are you actually living a life that reflects those things?”
The Thing is Not the Thing
I know some amazing musicians who dreamed of making a living pursuing music full time. They were fortunate enough to be able to do it. Literally living their dream. But after a while they burned out. Things didn’t feel quite like they imagined. They make very good money touring the country, playing function gigs and corporate events. This is what they wanted, and yet it left them wanting.
Something was out of whack for them.
What they thought was the thing wasn’t actually the thing.
“I want to win the lottery”
There are many people who want to win the lottery. Most of us would be pretty happy with it I guess. But it’s not really winning the lottery that we want. It’s what winning the lottery would make possible for us. This might sound like semantics but there is an important difference, which does matter.
A musician might think she wants to make a full time living from her music. But that’s the lottery level. The important question to ask herself is why. What would making a living from music make possible? Many of us don’t go to that level, and we just assume that the thing we want is the thing we want.
But really it could be the freedom to create, to travel, to explore different places while touring, to write music in different styles and with different people. And actually, in pursuing the thing that makes this possible, we are actually closing the door on the thing we truly want deep down.
It’s the same with many different things:
- Become a doctor (because I want to make my parents proud)
- Start an online business (because I want to do something that matters with my life)
- Get married and have kids (because I want to fit in with society)
- Be rich and famous (because I don’t want to have to worry about anything anymore)
- Become president (because I want everyone to love me)
Our underlying wants often have little or nothing to do with the way we choose to pursue them. And yet we place all our hope and belief in the appearance level. Being or doing these things are not going to ensure the deeper want is met. But understanding what your deeper want is (and recognise those more dysfunctional motives), will enable you to live more at peace with yourself and able to create a life that reflects a much more positive set of values and desires.
In this episode we explore how to determine what you actually want, and unpack the following:
- Why Not to Listen to Those Who Assume They Know What You Want
- How to Follow to Your Inner-Compass
- When and How to React to the Things You Do and Don’t Want in the Examples of Other People
- How to Hatch a Plan to Live a Life that Reflects Your Deep Wants
Over to You
Do you know what you want your life to look like and reflect? How do you keep from getting distracted by all the competing things, trying to get you to desire other stuff? Please leave your response in the comments below.