Do you know what you want in life?
Do you know what all your hard work is really for?
That new car, that big house, fitting in those tight jeans…is this what you really want?
Or is there more?
When asked what we want in life, or for ourselves, we often don’t have an answer right away. We have to think about this question. I guess we don’t get asked these questions nearly enough…and we also often don’t take time to ask them ourselves. We work towards paying our bills, feeding our families, accumulating status symbols, losing weight, looking pretty and sexy. Some of us get stuck in jobs we don’t really enjoy for the sake of all this stuff. We keep repeating the same actions that may lead to some momentary pleasure and fulfillment. But this instant gratification often weens off quickly and then we are frantically looking for the next big thing to give us another moment of sweet, fleeting satisfaction.
It really is a rat race, isn’t it?
I think the only way out of this cycle is to uncover what you really want. Not what you think you should want, because society, the media or family members tell you so. Or because it worked for someone else. But when we ask ourselves what we really want, there’s often just blank space inside of us. We honestly cannot answer this question, because our minds are so full of other people’s ideas and outside expectations. We want more money, but at the same time we think money is bad. We want to lose weight, but don’t feel motivated enough to actually change our lifestyle. We want to be beautiful, liked, accepted, and loved, but the more we try to please others, the further we move away from ourselves.
The problem is that we mistake means goals for end goals, as Vishen Lakhiani puts it so well in his book “The Code of the Extraordinary Mind”. We think the car, the house, the romantic partner, the ideal weight, the Masters degree or the high-level job are our ultimate goals. We think: “When I have that, then I will be happy.” We put off our happiness to someday. And then often when we get what we wanted, we feel happy for a little while…but not for too long.
All our superficial desires have an underlying general need. When we identify this underlying need, we free ourselves from the idea that we have to have this one certain thing in order to be happy. We realize that many roads lead to Rome. What makes us happy might change over time. We realize that we are free to choose.
So how do you identify your true, underlying needs and desires?
By asking yourself “What’s important about that?”. And when you have an answer, ask yourself again: “Why is that important?”. Keep asking yourself this question again and again, until you reach an answer that feels like coming home, that feels complete and fulfilling.
Let me give you an example: Say you’re dreaming of a beautiful big house with a huge garden. What’s important about that? You want to be able to invite friends over and have great garden parties. Why is that important? You want to be seen as a great host and a generous friend. What’s important about that? You want to feel respected, loved and appreciated. What’s important about that? You realize that you just want to feel full of love.
Wow. Pretty deep, huh?
Or, here’s something I noticed about myself: I want to make more money. What’s important about that? I want to feel comfortable and safe and not have to worry so much. Why is that important? I feel bad that my husband makes so much more money than I do and I want to be able to support him. What’s important about that? I want to feel self-reliant, independent, and worthy of his love. Why is that important? Because deep down inside, I don’t feel worthy. I feel like I have to prove myself worthy of love. What’s important about that? I realize that all I want is a deep, unshakable sense of self-worth. I want to feel abundant. I want to feel safe. I want to feel loved.
Well, I’ll be darned. My desire to make more money stems from a deep-seated feeling of unworthiness, but I know for a fact that you can’t attract more money, or anything at all that you desire, if you don’t feel worthy of it! No wonder my savings account is pretty pathetic…
You may already be able to see a pattern here: Usually our end goals are feelings and abstract things like love, acceptance, safety, joy, happiness, abundance or health. Once you have uncovered this true desire, you can start asking yourself another question: What can I do today to help me feel this way?
For example, what can I do today to feel abundant? I can bust out my gratitude journal and write down all the things I am grateful for in my life. Or, what can I do today to feel loved and connected? I can write a lovely card to a good friend, for no particular reason at all, just because I appreciate her so much.
Oftentimes, small and simple actions can be just as powerful as big ones. Sometimes, a bouquet of flowers can be worth just as much as a brand new sports car. Sometimes, a heartfelt hug is more meaningful than a new phone. That doesn’t mean that you’re not allowed to desire these things – please do! Please dream big! But don’t get caught up on just one thing, just one material desire, just one path. There are many ways to fulfill our deepest needs and desires. And you can choose something that makes you feel fulfilled every single day. You don’t have to wait to be happy until “someday” – you can be happy now. ❤