Most of us have a fuzzy idea of what we want now, today, and maybe even this month. However, we struggle to answer the bigger question: What do I really want out of life?
When I ask my clients this question, I usually get a few types of answers:
• Silence or "I don't know"
• A fuzzy version of what they want
• A dialed down version of their true aspirations.
- Since we are used to playing small and following "the rules," this question can be overwhelming.
- We don't think we're worth it. We fear that if the stakes get higher, we might disappoint ourselves or others.
- It shifts the question from an external problem to an internal solution. Instead of "what do I want to do about my annoying job?" or "how do I find the right guy?" we are invited to look at our imagined possibilities. It shifts our focus, forcing us to stop our complaining in its tracks.
Why? Because the solution to the problem is now on us. Our happiness becomes our responsibility.
So How Do You Discover What You Want Without All the Overwhelm?
By expanding your vision by 25 percent. Let's take an example. Let's say I'm working with a client named Jess who wants to find a better work-life balance. The conversation might go something like this:
Amita: If you could have your ideal work-life balance, what would it look like?
Jess: I'd get home from work at a reasonable time, I'd have time for my friends, to exercise, and maybe read or pursue a hobby.
Amita: I hear you identifying three key things: Time for work, time for friends, and time for you. But what if you were to go bigger? What if you were to forget all the "rules" about time and balance and create whatever you wanted? What if we were to turn it up even by 25 percent? What would 25 percent better look like?
Jess: Hmm, I'd want all the above. Plus, I'd want to not feel guilty about missing anything. I'd also want to work at home more.
Amita: So in addition to those three things, you'd want an internal change, the sense that you'd be doing enough in all areas of your life. And you'd work at home to some degree. Now what if we were to turn the dial up again by 25 percent and get even more expansive? What would that "too good to be true" life look like?
Jess: I'd have a job where I wouldn't have to be in an office at all. I'd also have more time in nature and time to travel. I'd get to do the things that make me feel centered- like yoga a few times each week and maybe even have a few more home-cooked meals. I'd feel like my career and my personal life were equally important. Ideally, I'd have the time and energy for both.
Now, we're getting to the core of it! The life that she truly wants is starting to emerge. We are developing a real vision that can guide her choices. We might turn the dial up a few more times, as each time something new, vast, and creative is revealed.
For many of us, the truth of what we want is obscured from our vision as we deem it to be impractical, selfish, impossible, or unacceptable. It takes time to peel back the layers and get to the core of what we really want.
The time to start is now.
Pick one area of your life and ask yourself, "What do I really want?"
What do you see?
Keep turning up the dial by 25 percent until you see the too-good-to-be-real truth.
Thoughts about its impossibility may rush in. That's okay, just note them and put them aside. It isn't time to worry about how you'll make your dreams a reality. The first step is to discover what you truly want and simply sit with it.
Live with it and feel it.
When you know what you want, things will start to happen and the "how" will unfold. Don't worry about the action steps just yet. Just be open, patient, and allow yourself the gift of possibilities.