Imagine I’m sitting across from you at a cafe, and we’re engaged in a lively and friendly discussion about dreams and goals and everything we want to achieve in life. I turn to you and ask, “So what exactly do you want to get out of life?”
You were so ready for this question that you answered with your top three goals, why they’re important to you, and what specific actions you’re already taking toward them…
If you’re like the rest of us, it’s likely you were struggling to say much more beyond a general feeling of wanting to be happy, have a successful career, have adventures, and/or be good to others. Knowing exactly what we want in life is a loaded question.
In a previous post, I mentioned three key ingredients to living our best lives: clarity, attitude, and elevated experiences. Since it’s such a fundamental building block to a life lived with purpose, we’re going to start with the basic question: do you have clarity on what you want?
It sounds obvious, but it warrants being said: we cannot get what we want if we don’t first know what that is. And in order to take meaningful action toward anything you want, you need to get specific - like really specific. This piece is important, because once you’re able to envision an end goal for yourself, your brain will actually start helping you find ways to make it reality, like a background program running while you take concrete and intentional actions. (There will be more behind the science on this in a future post.)
So, how do we get crystal clear on what we want? We’re going to dig deep with a 15-20 minute writing exercise.
First, know that this work isn’t easy. It often challenges us to think outside of norms we’ve lived with for so long, which can make it uncomfortable. But the end result is so worth it. Second, when I say write this down, I mean it.
When you write down your goals, you are 42% more likely to reach them.
FORTY TWO PERCENT! Wouldn’t you want that automatic edge on your side if it meant getting what you want out of life?
Grab your notebook and a pen, and try these 3 steps to gain some clarity on what you want in life:
- For this step, give yourself about 10-15 minutes minimum, and allow yourself to open your mind to all possibilities. Brainstorm every project, goal, change you want to make, or anything else you’ve been dreaming of as of late, and write it down - whatever it is, without judgment. If nothing readily comes to mind, here are some prompts that might help:
- “My life would be enriched if I _________.”
- “It would be so cool if I could _____________.”
- “If only I could _________, my life would change dramatically.”
- When you’re done writing, look over your list and notice which items move you - it’s likely that there are a few that you’re particularly drawn to. Circle these, they’re the ones to focus on. For each of these, write down why achieving this project/goal/dream is important to you (and again, without judgment. This list isn’t for anyone else, so be honest with yourself when doing this.) Keep digging until you find a deep motivation for this dream (and each of the ones you’ve circled.)
- Take a look at the handful of items you’ve circled, and assess how important it is for you to get started on this in the next year on a scale of 1-5 (1 being not so important, 5 being OMG how have I not already moved on this?!) We want at least a 4 - anything less than that might not have the best chances of actually getting done. If you have anything 4 or above, I think it’s safe to say that you want this enough to make it happen.
Getting clear on what you want isn’t easy, but it’s the first step to defining your best life. If you’ve introspected and taken the time to go through this exercise, you might have discovered some new priorities, resurfaced old desires, or come up with a brand new idea for something you want to achieve in life - that’s great! You now have some meaningful goals to work toward, and equally important, your deeper reasons to motivate you.
All my love and support,