“I don’t know what I want…”
If you don’t know what you really want in life, you’re not alone. Thousands, if not millions, of people wander the earth every day without a quest.
We’ve all hit that point where we can’t figure out exactly what we really want to do with our lives. A lot of people live their lives having no clue what they want. It can come when you’re 18 or when you’re 50, and it’s always a difficult process to work through.
What I hated the most when someone asks me “where do you see yourself in five years?” It’s one of the most annoyingly difficult questions to answer, and in most cases it’s pretty much impossible to answer in a concrete way. This question riddles everything from job interviews to financial plans; it’s common for a reason: it works.
Part of the problem is the concept of “life purpose” itself. The idea that we were each born for some higher purpose and it’s now our cosmic mission to find it. This is the same kind of manic logic used to justify things like spirit crystals or that your lucky number is 33 (but only on Tuesdays or during full moons).
These days, I see a similar dynamic play out for my colleagues and friends. They complain in rich detail about the things that are wrong with their lives: finding a husband/wife, re-occurring patterns, demanding children, overbearing bosses, meaningless relationships… But when it comes to specifying the fix, people simply say “I just want love,” they say “Passion.” “Security.” “Inner peace.” It’s like telling a waiter, “Bring me something delicious. I have no idea what, but I’ll know it when I taste it.”.
Here’s the truth: People who get what they want tend to be the ones who make the effort to know what they want. Discovering what you really want to do with your life isn’t an easy task for anyone, nor is it something that you can really create a step-by-step guide for. That said, when you’re not really sure what you want to do, whether it’s a career, a lifestyle, or anything else, a few different exercises might help you pinpoint what it is you truly want. Here are seven ways to try to pinpoint what you want from your future.
Just before I list them, I’d like to point out that you have only one life; make the most out of it and do things that make you happy. And you should start right now!
Since most humans are expert complainers, I’ll bet you’re feeling some level of Pushback right now. Somewhere in your life there’s a sense of resistance, resentment, discomfort. When babies feel this way about specific food, they clamp their mouths closed, shake their heads, hurl spoons. Though I doubt you do this at business meetings or parent-teacher conferences, maybe you should. Inwardly, I mean. Outwardly, you can nod and smile the way you always do, while noticing the feeling of Pushback. And when you’re ready to start complaining—to your spouse, a cabdriver—don’t just moan. Complain about precisely the things that bother you. Find the central flaw in the boardroom strategy session. Figure out what exactly about your boss’s condescending attitude makes you want to punch him/her in the kidneys. The more specific you are about what upsets you, and why, the clearer you can make your desires.
2. Make an “I want” List.
For 10-15 minutes record your answers to the simple question, “What do you want?” Is it marriage? Freedom to express yourself? Love? Financial security? Something else? ask the question over and over again. If you’re like most people, your list will range from the very material things to matters of the heart and the true revelations of who you are and what you want from your most true self. Go ahead, start asking: What do you want? What do you want? I want! I want!
If you are having a hard time figuring out the one thing you want from your life, why not choose ten? That’s right. On a piece of paper, write down a list of 10 things you want to do, 10 things you want to have, and 10 things you want to do before you die. Sometimes when the pressure to find just one thing is removed, the floodgates open and you discover that there are a multitude of things that you want to do with and in your successful life.
4. Worry Not, The Money Will Come.
Is worrying about making a living keeping you from deciding upon what you want in life? Are you afraid that you won’t be able to survive if you follow your bliss? Make a list of 20 things you absolutely love to do. Then, try and imagine ways you can make a living doing these things. Don’t worry—you can do it. You only have to believe, trust, and act.
5. Dream Big.
When you are deciding what you want from your life, there is no reason to think small. Take a risk and dream big, shoot for the stars. This is your opportunity to write the script to your life—you are the star. Have the courage to write the role of a lifetime. Dream big because amazing things can and do happen to people just like you each and every day!
6. Determine what makes you truly happy.
There’s no waste to life if you’re happy living it. Your happiness is the root of your desires. So take a few moments and really think about what makes you happy. Is it traveling? Being around children? Owning a successful business? Financial freedom? Once you pinpoint the one thing that makes you happy the most, you’ll have a pretty clear idea of what you should strive for in your life.
7. Stay positive.
Life doesn’t always go the way you want it. Take control. Instead of freaking out, try your best to roll with the changes. You will get there someday. You’re just taking a little detour. Sometimes a positive attitude is all you need to keep going. Even in the worst of times, most of us realize that we still have things in our lives for which we are grateful. Voice those blessings! Practice gratitude.
Are you a person who continually beats yourself up mentally? Do you constantly question your actions? Believe me, I’ve been there. The more you talk negatively to yourself, the more that negativity will become a part of you. Instead, practice the power of positive thinking. Any time a negative thought comes to your mind, replace it with a positive one. At some point, this will become a natural behaviour and your brain automatically turns the negative into a positive.
Don’t delay. Decide what you want and begin transforming your life starting from today!