Around five years ago I wrote a newsletter with the same title. I feel compelled to revisit this topic from time to time because I think it’s the most important question we can ask ourselves. And I know from the work I do with my clients, it’s often the hardest to answer.
Sometimes we think we know what we want and we go after it only to find that it’s not what we had hoped for. Sometimes we tell ourselves we have absolutely no idea of what we want.
I think if we take the time to listen deeply to our own internal voice rather than thinking about what we ‘should’ want, we do know.
At a simple level, we all want the same things.
We want to feel happy. We want meaningful relationships, we want to love what we do for work, we want good health and enough money to enjoy a little pleasure and relaxation in our lives. And maybe once we have those things, we want to leave the world a slightly better place.
Yet we’re easily seduced by messages in the media about the other things that we should want. Designer clothes, a prestigious job with a six-figure income, a beautiful body and maybe a couple of perfect looking kids.
Advertisers know that happiness is our ultimate goal and they make us believe that if we look and dress a certain way we’ll be more likely to get the right job and find the right partner…then we’ll be ready to move into that dream home and fill it with all the possessions money can buy.
Designer dresses and a big credit card debt won’t make you happy.
We need to learn to be at peace with who we are. We need to look inside to make sure our choices are aligned with our own personal values not just an idealised lifestyle that someone else is trying to sell us.
For me personally, I know that ‘bigger, better and more’ don’t make me happy. They make me stressed and overwhelmed.
Simplicity makes me happy. Eating healthy food, exercise, making time to meditate make me happy. Being a good mother and partner and doing work I love makes me happy.
For the rest of this week, every morning on waking ask yourself this question: ‘what do I really want?’.
Don’t think about the ‘how’ (we’ll explore that later). Just begin with ‘what’ and importantly, think about how you want to feel and who you want to be as you go through your life.
- I want a creative career where I have flexibility and freedom
- I want to share my life with a partner who will be my best friend
- I want to be a loving parent to two children
- I want to make a difference in other people’s lives
- I want to leave the world a better place
- I want to write poetry / paint / take more photographs
- I want to make more time to spend with my friends and family
- I want to learn to worry less and enjoy the moment more
- I want to work somewhere that I feel valued and respected
- I want to live a healthier lifestyle so that I have more energy to do the things that I love
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