So, what do you want? If you’re like most people, this is surprisingly difficult to answer. Most people are so inundated with messages from their parents, peers, and society of what they “should” want that their true desires are drowned out. Plus, even if they’ve held dreams and desires in the past, their life experiences have lead them to believe that what they want is not possible, and so they stop allowing themselves to want it. They tell themselves “I can’t have that” and it hurts to want something they cannot have, and so they stop thinking about it. They give it up. They settle.
But, the good news is that dreams can never die—deep down you know what you want. It tugs at you from within, but you may be so used to ignoring it that you no longer notice.
What do you REALLY want? Answer this without allowing other people’s opinions or beliefs limit you. Answer this without thinking about limitations—imagine for a moment that money is not an issue and that whatever that is currently blocking you is magically taken care of.
What are things you wanted, desired or dreamed about that at some point you decided you could NOT have and so stopped wanting them? This could have been in childhood or adulthood. You may not have allowed yourself to think about these desires in a long time. For each one, ask yourself if this is something that you STILL want. If not, cross it out and let it go. Circle any desires that you feel a strong emotional reaction to when you think about them.
Identifying What You Do NOT Want
For many people it’s easier to identify what they do NOT want than what they DO want. When asked what they want, many people respond “not this!” So, to start, simply make a list of the things you know for sure you do NOT want in your life. These can be things that USED to be in your life that you never want to experience again. They can be things CURRENTLY in your life that you would like to stop. They can be things you are simply certain you never want in your FUTURE.
Once you know what you do NOT want, it will help you identify what you DO want. Ask yourself, “What is the opposite of what I don’t want?” or “If I know I do NOT want ______, then it means that I do want _______.”
Getting More Specific
You have determined some things you want and don’t want. You have determined the roles, beliefs and ego states that have influenced your life story and the new perspectives you can now take of them. Now, it is time to delve into greater detail about what you WANT your life to be. You can always add to this activity later, as you learn more about your desires. Later you will rewrite the story itself, but here you are asking yourself what you want in your life and why.
“Yes, I want more of this!”
Once you begin asking yourself about what you want, you’ll find yourself noticing more and more things that make you think, “yes, I want this!” It’s okay if you’re still not sure what you want. Allow your desire to grow over time. Throughout your day, simply notice whether you like or dislike certain things, people, situations or experiences.
Say, “Yes, I want more of this!” to the things you like.
Say, “No, thank you.” to the things you do not like. Saying “thank you” acknowledges that you appreciate the ability to identify what you don’t want because it helps you know more clearly what you DO want.
Digging Deeper into “Why”
Now we’re going to ask you to dig deeper into the answers you provided in the “why” column. This is important because only if you have a big enough reason will you be committed to creating lasting change. And, the only way your reason to change your life will be big enough is if you understand your core reasons. Below is an example that will help illustrate the point.
A student in one of our classes once told us, “I can’t wait to go home and start using these efficiency techniques to make my work more effective and productive” And so we asked, “Well, why do you want to be more productive?” The student said that it would help her to get a promotion at work. We asked her why she would want a promotion and she said “So I can get a raise.” So we asked again, “Why do you want a raise” and she said “Because I need the money to buy a larger home”. So we asked “Why?” and she says because I want my mother and sister to move in with me”. “Why?” “Because it has been our dream to own a big house together and live together as a family.”
To which we responded, “Good, NOW you have identified what you really want. It’s a large house with your family living with you. You don’t really want to be more efficient. What you want is the experience of having your family living with you.”
Look at the reasons you wrote for “why” and ask yourself the following questions:
Why does this matter to you?
How would it make you feel?
What would happen if I didn’t have, do, or be this?
Why does that matter?
Keep probing and asking yourself until you get to the core of the issue.
In some cases you will find that your deeper motive is a specific desire, like in the example above. However, often the core motivation beneath your desire is actually an emotional state that you wish to experience. In fact, everything we want is because we believe it will make us feel the way we desire: good, or at least better.
Get Other People Out Of Your Head
Lastly, consider if any of the things you “want” are truly only because you think you “should” want them. It’s easy to unknowingly adopt other people’s dreams. Get other people’s voices and beliefs out of your head… then take a final look at your desires and confirm that this is TRULY what you want.
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Joeel & Nataile are co-founders of Transformation Academy®, where they train leading-edge entrepreneurs, leaders and life coaches how to master their mindset and create a purpose-driven business. They have started more than a dozen businesses, and trained over 500,000 coaches from 200_ countries and territories. Joeel is a former psychology professor with a Master’s Degree in Counseling and Education is currently completing his dissertation on eudaemonic happiness for a Ph.D. in Psychology.