Friday, April 23, 2010

What do you want?

What do you want? Really - what is the outcome you would like to see? That is the ultimate question - not because you always get what you want, and not because greed is good, or because selfishness is a state of mind to which you should necessarily aspire.

The answer to the question, "What do you want?" is so important because it determines your goal, your intention. This begs the other question, "To what extent is this intention within your sphere of control or influence?" We all want the economy for example, especially our own little pieces of it, to improve right now. But even the guys setting policy can't do it alone. The "What do I want?" question is immediate to you, and once answered, influences the actions you take, at least if you are being authentic - congruent with yourself.

When you ask yourself, "What do I really want?" it's to get beyond the shoulds. Shoulds are borrowed visions - things you were taught by your parents and other key influencers during your formative years. Shoulds are the standards that your friends have, or that your neighbors have. They aren't really yours unless you choose them.

A very wise colleague of mine asked the question years ago, "Are you decision making or problem solving?" At the time his question didn't have huge meaning for me, but I think it was because I had already made a definitive decision - that of being my own boss - and there was absolutely no going back. I didn't give myself an escape hatch. I had answered the original "What do you want?" question, and all the rest became the process of making it happen.

Was it easy? No. There was a list of obstacles as long as my arm. There were people who didn't understand why in the world I would take such a risk. There were people whose "Good luck!" had an overtone of cynicism that read, "She'll be back." There were statistics at the time that talked about the failure rate of new businesses. And of course there was the learning curve of learning to do my craft, do the books, plan how I was going to market - even choosing a name and a logo. But none of that stopped me because I knew what I wanted. So I overcame the obstacles and did it.

The biggest thing that is keeping you from creating the life you want to live is your avoidance of the question, "What do you want?" The next biggest thing is when you have two things that you want, and the two of them are in conflict with one another. Dr. Vatz, my persuasion professor from college, would probably be astounded to know that more than 30 years after taking his class I still remember him saying, "You can't be both a good daughter and a good date." Hahahahaha - that was hi-larious as a college student, but you get his point. At some time you have to decide which you want more.

To do otherwise, to move onward indefinitely with these two conflicting "What do I want?" ideas in your mind is like standing with one foot on the dock and the other foot on the boat. You can strengthen your leg muscles and get better at holding the boat in place, but sooner or later the boat is going to have enough pull that you're going to have to choose to be one place or the other - or you'll fall into the water.

When you are living with what you don't want for a long enough time -
  • You're likely to become stressed and/or depressed.
  • You're going to complain a lot, and after a while the people who are supportive of you and listen to you are going to get tired of hearing it.
  • You might manifest your upset in emotional weight, excess drinking, etc.  
So which weighs more - the thing you want or the obstacles you have to overcome in order to get there? Only you know the answer to the question. But sooner or later you are going to have to answer it. You can always choose to wait until a future date - but that's simply more time that you're choosing to delay in having the life you want to live and the person you want to become.


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