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What Do You Want For Your Life?

Country Mile
Creative Commons License photo credit: Nicholas_T

This question seems like it should be simple to answer.  And yet, have you ever asked yourself what you wanted and couldn’t find an answer?

Asking what you want for your life is an exercise in possibilities.  But it can be hard to hold onto a possibility when the reality seems so different.  So…

What do you want?

When you ask yourself this question, the first stage is all about possibilities.  You don’t want to bring constraints or limitations into this step, so don’t judge or censor yourself here.

However, you do want your answers to be based in reality.  So, for instance, if you say you want to raise a herd of unicorns, this is probably not going happen because unicorns don’t exist.  Your answers can be a stretch for you to reach, but they should actually be reachable.

You can name small things and big things that you want.  There is nothing too small, or too big for you to want.  Trust that all your desires have an important place in your life.

Once you have all your desired possibilities listed out, begin to figure out how to make them reality.  You can start small here, in fact, it’s the best way to get started.  Pull yourself closer and closer to what you want.  Focus here on bridging the gap between your possibilities and your reality.  Don’t focus too much on how far away they seem, just keep walking towards them.

As you walk, the distance between them will become shorter and shorter.

How do you figure out what you want?  Share your thoughts in the comments.

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  1. I don’t think many people have a problem with knowing what they want. It’s always the next step after the wanting.

    Most wants stay as wishes. I wish I could be thinner. I wish I made more money. I wish I could find the right person for me. And then they sit back and hope it happens in the course of the life their currently living.

    Also, there’s a step in there where you have to evaluate whether what you want is really what you want. Say you want to make more money, but your top value is spending time with family. You probably have to concentrate more on your career to earn more which takes a way from family time so there’s a disconnect between goals and values that needs to be reconciled.

    Remember when your climbing the ladder of success (not career success but success in living life), I think you have to make sure it’s leaning against the right wall.

  2. Hi Amanda,

    This is an important topic. Thanks for raising it.

    How do you figure out what you want?

    My approach to this question has changed. I now ask myself “What does life want from me?” It’s a different question that leads to different answers.

    To get the answer relies on really tuning in to your inner, authentic self, rather than getting distracted and swept along with fleeting, recycled thinking that is often based on comparisons with others or a desire seek approval and please others.

    To get the answer relies on seeing, hearing and feeling the life force inside you that is so powerful and so beautiful. By aligning with it – becoming one with it – the answer to the question becomes very clear. And you don’t need to become a monk meditating in a temple to do this.

    Just ask yourself the question regularly, and be open to the voice of possibilities – your inner, authentic voice – the voice of your exquisite life force that has all the answers.

    And who knows, you may be destined to be a great artist who paints highly imaginative paintings of “herds of unicorns”.

    Best to you, Amanda. I really like your blog.

    Robin 🙂

  3. As I know that I can change my pattern of thoughts and set up any belief system I want then the question of what do I want starts to lose its value to me. As I know I can want anything I want I start to ask the questions of ‘what is worth wanting in life?’ and consequently it leads all the way back to ‘why am I alive?/What is the purpose of life?’.

    So what is the right thing to do with my life? Probably to search for the answer honestly.

    Maybe there is a spot deep down inside ourselves that knows the best course of action…

  4. A terrific post. Thanks for writing it!

    I have spent much of my life either doing what I thought I was supposed to or taking whatever opportunities presented themselves. At 36, I looked around and realized that I had made a life for myself that I didn’t want.

    So, what do I want? That’s a tough question. I’m working hard on coming up with a better answer than ‘not this’. I don’t know my destination, but I’m learning to enjoy the journey.

  5. What do you want for your life … that’s a question we should keep asking ourselves again and again. The answer will ensure we always stay on path to building a life of our dreams.

  6. Amanda — I can really see the value in this post. Let me try to work through what I think you’re saying.

    If I ask myself right now what I want, I would say to be more at peace with myself. The next question sort of follows, which is what ways help me feel more at peace with myself?

    After I identify these, then I can prioritize which help more than others and/or which are practical or impractical for me at this time in my life.

    Let’s say living at the beach year-round is one of the best ways I feel at peace with myself…well, that’s not going happen anytime soon…so what is it about the beach that makes me feel peaceful?

    One thing for me about the beach is being close to nature. Okay, how do I bring nature to me? One way I can do this is to sit outside or take walks, weather permitting. Other ways are to keep photos or pictures of nature around me and bring nature (plants) into where I work.

    Wow. I’m not sure this what intended, but it was actually very helpful because I’m sitting in my office and I don’t have a single living plant in it. I do have photos up, but I could add more.

    Thanks….I now have two specific things I can do to bring more peace into my life. This was very good post:~)

  7. Amanda Linehan Amanda Linehan

    Hi Corin – I think the last part of your comment about the ladder on the right wall is really what this post is about. I think most of what people “want” is not really what they want. They are simply repeating things that they “should” want. Knowing which wall your ladder should lean on is a huge step, and a very important one.

    Hi Robin – Thanks for sharing. I think asking that question is a great way to lead yourself to the right answer. And, in a sense, may be a better guide than simply “what do I want.” I think what we all want is to make a contribution based on our unique talents, that thing we really feel alive doing.

    Hi Trish – Thanks for leaving your “answer” here. Will be by soon. 🙂

    Hi Jarrod – Your comment reminds me of Robin’s. Maybe the question isn’t “what do I want,” but “what is wanted from me.” Of course, maybe they are both really the same question. 😉

  8. Amanda Linehan Amanda Linehan

    Hi Meg – I think “not this” is always the first answer you come up with when you ask this question. You always seem to know what you don’t want before what you do. 🙂

    Hi Avani – Good point. Maybe this is not a one-time question and answer, but many questions and many answers over time. 🙂

    Hi Sara – Wow, I’m really glad you walked through these steps in your comments. I do this in my own life, but it’s interesting to see someone else walk through it 😉 Also, your comment made me think that maybe the “first answer” isn’t necessarily the most important part of the exercise. Maybe it’s what’s behind that answer. Thanks!

  9. Grace and Peace Grace and Peace

    What do I really want in my life? Most of the time, I think “That” is what I want in my life. It could be the person, the career and the hobby. Strangely, I figure out this is not what I want even though I don’t know what I want exactly in real term. What I have discovered is even though I did not or did get the thing I want, I am always getting closer to my authetic self, one step closer. Perhaps, it is important to know what I really want indeed, but it is more important to learn from what I “DO” not want and “WHY” then move on to the next step to what we so called “what I want in my life” on this life journey.

  10. Amanda Linehan Amanda Linehan

    Hi Grace and Peace – Thanks for these thoughts. I often do that too – the thought of something I want is more attractive than the reality of what I want. But, you are right – every time that happens i move a little closer to who I actually am.

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