What do you really really want?

What do you really really want?

What do you really really want? That’s a question we ask at the start of one of our training programmes. If you want to to feel fulfilled and lead a life that’s on purpose, it’s a question worthy of exploration. Because – without knowing what you want – how do you know in which direction to head to create a life that works for you?

Have you suppressed your Wants or are you living out someone else’s?

Many of us have been conditioned to suppress our Wants. I write ‘Wants’ with a capital letter because I believe they really matter!

As a child, “I want won’t get” was often heard in our household. And, accompanying that message, come the implicit judgements and demands: “I’m selfish to want that”, “I don’t deserve that” so”I shouldn’t want that”, “I have to go without”. So, we give up on wanting and then wonder why we feel an undercurrent of dissatisfaction within.

Or, we try to fulfil the Wants that others have for us. Very often our parents. They encourage us down a path – take a degree, get a ‘sensible’ job. Absolutely nothing wrong with either – if that’s what you really want. But, if you’re somewhere because someone else wanted you to be there, maybe it’s time to start getting in touch with where YOU really want to be!

Knowing what you want opens you up to opportunities

I spent some years working as an Account Director in an ad agency. I ended up there by default; it wasn’t the plan. Not surprising, really, because there was no plan!  I didn’t know what else I wanted to do. There was lots to be grateful for. I had a wonderful boss, great clients, a fab team around me and I was very well-remunerated.  But that wasn’t enough. The work itself didn’t interest me. I couldn’t get excited about it and I envied those who did.

Eventually, I sat down and thought about what I really wanted. I had absolutely no idea what the ideal job would be. So, instead, I listed what I did enjoy about my work and what else I thought I’d like in the ideal job. Amongst other things, I knew that I wanted to have work that fulfilled me, to help people realise their potential, to be involved somehow in the creative process, to have great colleagues, to get opportunities to learn and grow and to have the freedom and flexibility to work from home.

Some time later, an apparently random conversation on a Greek island opened up an opportunity for a dream job that comprised all those elements. I ended up working for a consultancy that helped people in corporates to develop their creative problem solving skills and find innovative solutions to challenging business issues. I was home-based and hadn’t known that such a profession existed!

Satisfied at work but dissatisfied with other areas of your life?

Even if you love your work, maybe you still feel dis-satisfied, that there’s something missing?

Or maybe you’re spending lots of time at work because your life beyond the office doesn’t have enough meaning? There’s an emptiness inside when work isn’t occupying your attention.

Although it can often seem that way, you know in your heart of hearts that life isn’t just about work. The plethora of death bed literature suggests that no-one went to their death bed wishing they’d spent more time in the office.

If this is the case for you, then it’s time for a shift in attitude. Which starts with asking yourself “What do I really really want for my relationships, my recreation time, my well-being….?

Interestingly, when you have something to focus on outside of work, it can actually enhance your career. Jayne-Anne Gadhia, CEO of Virgin Money, cut down her working hours when she became a mum. She couldn’t believe it when her boss told her she’d had her best year ever. “Having something in your life that’s more important than work has made your judgement much better.”

The first step to building a life that works for you

I now keep lists of what I want for all the areas of my life – my social life, my financial situation, my education and so on. I refine and add to those lists on an ongoing basis.

Getting in touch with what you really want in all areas of your life is the first step to building a life that works for you. Those desires are already within you; it’s just a case of bringing them more into your consciousness.

For me, that has recently involved moving from London to the Cotswolds. Because I wanted to live with scenery that inspired me daily. Because I wanted to be closer to my father who is in his 80’s. Because I wanted to spend more time with other members of my family. Because I wanted to step out of my back door with Huntley, my chocolate brown Labrador*, and straight into nature. Because I wanted to have easy access to outdoor activities. Because I wanted to be part of a vibrant rural community. Because I wanted to hear birdsong from my window rather than traffic. And, because I, generally, wanted to slow down.

It’s working for me. What would work for you?

If you want to start getting in touch with what you really want, as a first step, I recommend you start your own Wants Lists – one for each area of your life. Click here to download the Wants Lists Workbook with instructions on how best to do this. And, another time, I’ll talk about the other shifts in attitudes that will help you transform those Wants into action and create the life that will work for you.

  • A chocolate brown Labrador was also on the list!