Few of us make time to nail down what we really want in our lives. From professional desires to meeting the "right" partner to buying the house of your dreams, our logical minds are quite busy hashing over ideas, but those ideas are usually not very clearly defined.
But here's what I've noticed lately: When people take the time to get clear--really clear--about what they want in their lives and then ask themselves why they want it, different mechanisms kick in to clear up the fog and help them on their way.
An example: Mary and her colleague, Sue, were both vying for the same promotion. They were, by all accounts, equally qualified for the opportunity at the next level at their firm.
Mary took a straightforward approach to the opening. She showed up for the interview, engaged in smart conversation with decision maker, and awaited the news from on high. She knew she wanted the position, but really didn't invest any time in a conscious consideration of why she wanted the job.
Sue interviewed just as well. But prior to the interview and to some extent afterward, she spent time pondering the simple question, "Why do I want this job? "
"I want this job because it will mean more money."
"I want this job because it's more challenging."
"I want this job because there's something about the description that just feels like something I'd be good at."
"I want this job because I am creative and I'm not currently not using my creativity."
"I want this job because it feels like me."
Can you see how her first answer was very pragmatic? (Income-focused) But as she kept asking herself why, her answers become increasingly about a feeling she couldn't describe but felt drawn to nonetheless. She trusted that feeling and went for it.
She happened to get the promotion and reports that she's very happy in the job. But even if it hadn't worked out that way, she successfully conducted her own due diligence about what she wanted, and why she wanted it. She would still have the same clarity about her professional desires with either outcome.
If there's something on your wish list--whether it's a more-fulfilling job, a new car, a just-for-you vacation, take a few minutes to really probe your psyche about it. These are two very simple questions really, but you'd be amazed at how much internal clarity they can offer.
What do I want? (Be specific)
Why do I want it? (How will I feel when I have it? Why is that feeling important?)
Once you have answered those two questions, you'll be very clear about what's really important in your soul.
And that, my friends, is the road we all want to travel down.
Martha Beck-certified life coach, Equus coach, Penn State journalism instructor and professional writer.