What Do I Really Want?
Do you find yourself at a pivot point in your career or your life? Maybe you’ve just started a new job or a new role. Perhaps you’ve lost your job, or are burned out on the one you already have. Maybe you’re experiencing a significant emotional event, or you just think life should be more enjoyable or more fulfilling. These situations don’t happen that often, but they can throw us into a tailspin. They cause us to doubt ourselves, to feel anxious, angry, sad, stressed, and worried (and lots of other feels). Unfortunately, when we are confronted with these experiences we often react as quickly as possible, trying to put things “right” again. But what if, instead of reacting and trying to “fix” things, you could slow down to notice and hear your own thinking? What if you could dig a little deeper to think about what really matters to you, to figure out “What Do I Really Want?”
Time to Pause
When was the last time you allowed yourself to really think about what YOU wanted? To question what’s most important to you? To dream about doing work that is challenging, fulfilling, and makes your heart sing? To think about what kind of life you want to be living? What kind of person you desire to be? When did you last consider, “What do I really want?”
Rarely do we pause long enough to ask ourselves these important questions. We get into a routine or habit that makes things easy and helps us navigate life. We may eat the same things every week, Taco Tuesday. It’s simple and predictable. We always watch the news in the evening or clean the house on Saturday. Vacations are always at the cottage (or “What vacation?”). “Work” is what we’ve always done, what we know how to do (even if it’s no longer fulfilling). People rely on us. After all, we’re doing what needs to be done, right?
A Shift that Can’t be Undone
Sometimes though, a significant life event alters how we see or perceive things, and we can never go back, never undo the event.
The pandemic caused a shift altering how we see the role of “work” in our lives. For example, many realized the appeal of working from home, providing them with more time and money. Time for more sleep. No more packing a lunch. Less gas expense and commute time. Dinner can get started earlier in the evening. Where we live no longer matters. We can work where it’s warm or choose a city with a lower cost of living. And once we’ve made that mental shift, it cannot easily be unshifted. We’ve tasted a new way of thinking about work and want more.
Some have also realized that no matter how much they earn, there are other, healthier ways to live life and make a living. Medical professionals, for example, are leaving the healthcare profession. Industry-wide companies are facing staffing shortages. Families are weighing the cost of childcare more than ever, against working—some fighting to maintain the family life balance they experienced during the pandemic. Gig work, independent contractors, and side hustles are on the rise. Employees want more control over their lives, they are changing the rules.
Small Changes are Almost Always Possible
Big changes may be difficult and require more planning, but small changes are almost always possible. Get started by making a list of what you want for yourself. Chunk your list into groupings such as Relationships, Family, Career, Health, Home, Personal Growth, Finances, Vacations, and Future Goals. Give yourself permission to brainstorm about what you WANT for all of these areas of your life. (Change these categories to fit your life!)
When I first did this exercise, I’ll admit I had a hard time thinking about what I wanted. I realized I hadn’t thought about my wants and desires in a very long time. However, once I got rolling, I updated my vision board too. To take this a step further, make a physical or digital vision board, that you can look at regularly. This will help you take the mental concepts of your WANTS and desires into a visual map, to help your mind-brain move from conceptual thinking, to “seeing” yourself in the scenarios you envision.
This might not seem like much, but a WANTS list is an important, small step in the right direction. After all, life is a series of choices you are continuously making. And you CAN choose more often than you think you can, you just don’t realize it. Remember you almost always have a choice. You can make a new choice that will get you a step closer to what you want, or you can choose to continue doing what you’ve always done.
A New Path
Nobody ever said that change was easy. Transitions might make you uncomfortable, but there is no magic bullet that will make everything feel better. You may be missing the pre-pandemic world or are coping with an unforeseen job or career transition. Maybe you are adjusting to a significant life event. In any case, you’re on a new path, a new timeline in the multiverse (ok, I like Marvel).
Instead of going back to the known and familiar, learning to navigate uncertain times can be an opportunity. You can opt for personal growth (which doesn’t mean you like it) and can choose to learn, adapt and pivot. Or you can choose to put your head in the sand and stay stuck in your rut, wishing things would go back to the way they used to be. You can grump and groan your way along, that’s certainly a choice. But like it or not, the “old normal” (the opposite of the “new normal”) is gone.
This is Your Story
So, if you haven’t started already, now is the time to decide. This is your story. Do you want to stick your head in the sand, and wish things would get back to “normal”, or is it time to start asking, “What do I really want?” Whether you are recreating your own life, or you want to reshape your entire organization, you are the creator of your story (or legacy).
- What do I want to spend my time doing, and for what type of organization, and manager?
- Do I want to feel valued, have my opinions count, and have opportunities to grow and learn?
- How do I want to spend my time? Working with others, in-person, virtually, or alone?
- Commuting or working from home, or a little bit of both?
- What do I like or even love about myself, and what do I want to change about myself or my life?
- Do I enjoy what I am doing, who I am? And if not, who do I want to become?
What Do I Really Want?
Give yourself permission to take some time with this. Pause to figure out what you really want. Make a want list and a vision board. Once you determine what you want, then you can begin to figure out what it will take to make that happen.
If you want something more for yourself, or your company, contact me, and let’s chat.
Kristin Clark is a certified Axiogenics Coach and co-author of Living a Richer Life; It’s All in Your Head. Kristin has coached hundreds of people from a wide range of backgrounds and beliefs, industries, and professions. She teaches Valuegenic Self-Leadership, a powerful development program engaging, empowering, and igniting leaders’ potential to help improve their performance, relationships, and quality of life.