"People don't know what they want until you show it to them." -Steve Jobs
Last week we chatted a little bit about why it's so important to be clear on what you want.
(Missed it? Read it here.)
In theory, knowing what we want sounds good.
"Buuuut, Kim", you might be thinking, "I don't know what I want!"
I get it.
So many of us have gotten so used to bending over backwards for others, listening to the “shoulds” in our head, people pleasing, operating out of fear, numbing ourselves, and generally running on autopilot, that we haven’t really stopped to ask ourselves what we want since we were kids.
For others, we've never taken the time to discover what we want.
Life is busy, and it sure as hell can be easier to just take what we get instead of figuring out and asking for what we want.
But, easier doesn’t always equal happier.
We all have areas of our life where we dig our heels in because we know damn well what we want. Today, I’d like to challenge you to channel that part of you who knows what they want and won't settle for no.
Here are a few simple ideas to get your “I want” juices flowing:
1. Start small. Practice getting clear on what you want in simple, everyday situations. Think of this like training at the gym. You're working out your "I want" muscle. Avoid "shoulds", "don't wants", and "I don't cares." The idea is to practice getting in touch with what you want and acknowledging it. There are countless scenarios throughout the day to flex this muscle.
2. Pay attention to your don't wants. Start to notice the areas in your life where you have things you don't want. "I hate my jooob." and, "Being single sucks!" are don't wants. If you're in the I-know-what-I-don't-want camp. I feel you, but it's hard to get what we want by focusing on the opposite. I don’t want you to operate from this space. However, for the discovery process, it can be a great place to start from when we’re not clear or not being so honest with ourselves.
What don't you want? What would you like instead?
I recently watched a talk with Gabby Bernstein where she suggested turning a don’t want into ”wouldn’t it be nice if...”
Play around with this. Instead of “I hate my job.” and spiraling into more of what you don’t want, you could try, “Wouldn’t it be nice if I found a new job?”; “Wouldn’t it be nice if I was given more responsibility at work?”; “Wouldn’t it be nice if I was given more creative projects at work?”; “Wouldn’t it be nice if there was someone to help me with my workload?”; "Wouldn't it be nice if I were recognized at work?" and so on.
3. Write down 30 things you want. Write down 30 things you want to be, have, and do before you die. I love this idea from Jack Canfield. By writing down 30 things you want, you take the pressure off of yourself to come up with the Ultimate Want - which can be pretty paralyzing. From this list, you can go back and focus on the things that really stand out to you or keep the entire list.
4. Create a want list. This is like a wish list for wants. I have one of these going at all times in my phone. Focus on a specific area of your life, and write down all of the things you would like. This forces us to expand a general want and helps us to become specific. This is also an excellent reference to go back to for focus. If you want some bonus points, you can revisit your list and show a little gratitude for wants you've received.
5. Decide on something and TRY it. This might not be what you want to hear, but we learn and discover by doing. It can be difficult to think our way into discovering our deeper wants in life. I've found most of the big wants in my life this way, by trying, doing, and adjusting accordingly.
I’m hereby giving you permission to be wrong about what you want and to change your mind. Sometimes you have to go out and happen to life. Sometimes we don't know what we want because we haven't experienced it yet.
As Angela Duckworth, celebrated researcher, professor, and author of Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance so poignantly says, “...interests are not discovered through introspection. Instead, interests are triggered by interactions with the outside world. The process of interest discovery can be messy, serendipitous, and inefficient. This is because you can’t really predict with certainty what will capture your attention and what won’t. You can’t simply will yourself to like things, either.”
For those of you who might be feeling a little resistance around all of this...This isn't easy stuff. It's scary. It can be uncomfortable. It can drudge up some muck.
Be easy on yourself and suspend your disbelief for just a moment as you channel that part of you who hasn't heard that you can't always get what you want.