Ask for what you want, and be prepared to get it. —Maya Angelou

When was the last time that you took a good look at what you really want?

There are many reasons that you might have a hard time identifying what you want.

From a young age, we’re taught to forsake desire.

Our culture tells us that desire is dirty, selfish, and something that only privileged folks can afford. Growing up poor, experiencing trauma, or encountering the harsh realities of life may have convinced you early on that innocent dreaming wasn’t worth the disappointment of being let down. You may see so many horrible things happening to other people that it seems selfish even to acknowledge what you want.

Childhood experiences may have taught you to ignore your feelings, needs, and desires. Maybe grown-ups told you that other people knew what was best for you, or when you spoke up, people ignored you.

According to the Online Etymology Dictionary, the word “want” originally meant “to be lacking,” and the word “desire” has depicted a sense of lust since the 1400s. While of course there’s nothing dirty about sexual desire, the fact that there are so few words for desire in a culturally comfortable way contributes to our discomfort with desire. What makes things even more confusing is that many spiritual teachings equate desire with ego attachment. 

In a world that tells us we’re inadequate if we don’t have certain things then turns around and says we’re selfish to want what we want, reclaiming desire is a radical act.

I invite you to put those old stories about desire aside for a moment. Now, consider the possibility that desire is sacred. What if true desire was life force moving through your body? What if desire was a call to return home to who you truly are?

Asking yourself what you want is the fastest path to identifying your callings, aspirations, purpose, vision, and the road towards a career and life you love.

At first, following desire may not be fun.

You might even convince yourself that you don’t want to something that you know deep down is best. For example, you may want to get more sleep, but when 9:45 pm rolls around, you feel the compelled to keep looking at Facebook. Or, you may want to step down from your role in the PTO so you can have more time with your kids, but part of you dreads the conversation.

Let’s practice this now.

Right here, right now, grab your journal and something to write with, and take a moment to get centered. Then, ask yourself what you really want, right at this moment.

Write down the first thing that comes up. And the next. And the next.

Now, you might be saying to yourself—

“But what if I don’t know what I want?!”

I assure you that it is entirely normal not to see the whole picture of what you want.

When I was first starting out as a coach, I wouldn’t press clients for an answer. Instead, I’d accept the “I don’t know” at face value and move on.

Then, I began experimenting. I’d pause and stay quiet. When my clients know we aren’t going anywhere and that I won’t judge them for wanting what they want, they start sharing about their hopes and dreams, which they sometimes haven’t even admitted to themselves.

Do not pressure yourself to see the whole picture of what you want in the future.

Desire speaks in the present moment, and it’s impossible to predict what you’ll want tomorrow or a year from now with one hundred percent accuracy. You might not know what your dream job looks like or which career path would suit you best, but somewhere inside you, you know the first step towards discovering the path that’s right for you.

To walk towards the life you want in the future, you need to be able to identify what you want now.

Imagine you’re assembling a puzzle that depicts the next horizon of your life.

Even though you can’t quite see the whole puzzle, you have at least some of the pieces. Keeping this in mind, ask yourself—

What parts can see right now?

What do I know about what I want?

Was there an almost silent answer that came before the “I don’t know what I want”?

Write down everything that comes up.

If you still can’t see what you want, know that confusion often arises from fear.

Being honest with yourself about what you want is sometimes very hard. You may need to let go of something that’s been important to you so you can create the life that’s best for you now.

Given this, I invite you to ask yourself—

Is there a part of me that’s saying that I shouldn’t want what I want?

Is there a voice telling me that I don’t even know how to find out what I want?

Be gentle with yourself, compassionately listening to whatever arises and not trying to force an answer.

For the next week, I invite you to ask yourself the guiding question—What do I really want now?

Your ability to identify what you want is like a muscle. The more you practice, the stronger it gets, until eventually, it becomes second-nature to choose what is aligned with your highest good.

Deep down, there’s a part of you who knows what you want, and this part of you has the power to create change for both you and your community. No matter how uncertain you feel, the voice of desire never goes away. It may be hidden, but you can always find it again.

I invite you to check out our professional coaching programs and then to apply for a discovery session when you’re ready to talk. All the best to you!

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