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June 28, 2017

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How to Know What You Really Want

"The indispensable first step to getting the things you want out of life is this: decide what you want." -Ben Stein

One key to being happy is to figure out what it is you really want. Usually, our deeper desires have to do with only two things: fostering or nurturing our relationships with people we enjoy spending time with or nurturing our internal relationship with ourselves. Luckily, these are two things we don't have to wait to get. We can create ways of doing these things right now, today, while we work toward our other longer-term desires. Once you figure out what real desires may be lurking underneath your goals you can find ways to get what you really crave.

As a personal coach I see so many people sacrificing their closest relationships in an effort to reach longer term goals. They hope these will create opportunities for enjoying these very same connections.

Many people tell me that what they really want in life is more money, a boat, a vacation home, or some other luxury item. I agree that these things would be very nice indeed. Who doesn't want a boat or a cabin by a lake? I certainly do! However, when I ask my clients what having these things would give them they often say: "more fun and connection with my kids, my spouse and my friends". Or they say: "more time to relax, exercise and take better care of myself". So what we actually want exists on many levels.

When we say that we want a boat - what we *really* might be wishing for might be more immediate. We may simply be craving more fun and connection with the important people in our lives. Or sometimes when we say we want a vacation home, what we *really* might need is some peace and quiet time to spend with our own thoughts. Most often what we really, really want might be a level or two below the surface of our conscious desires.

Unfortunately, sometimes we spend many extra hours working toward our bigger visions that we end up sacrificing the simpler pleasures available to us today: time with our kids, spouses and friends. We can also end up sacrificing time we would prefer to be spending on our own physical and mental well being.

I met an older gentleman in Las Vegas one day many years back. He was working in one of the all-day, all-night buffets cleaning tables. He was a retiree and kept this job just to get out of the house. He and I struck up a conversation, as one does in Las Vegas, and he told me that he was a businessman before he retired. He had run some kind of company. I can't remember what it was. Being a young corporate ladder climber myself at the time, I was duly impressed and told him so.

He dampened my enthusiastic response to his former position of authority by telling me that he regretted the excess of time he had spent working in his life. He told me how he had missed some very important moments in his children's upbringing and that he could never get those back. I was struck at how my high energy status-oriented professional climb suddenly seemed pointless in his older and wiser context.

That conversation has stayed with me for over a decade. It profoundly shook my young professional roots. Here was someone who had "made it" telling me it wasn't worth it. In hindsight, he felt that he had given up far more than he had gained.

He shared with me that at that time he felt that the work he did was important because it allowed him to provide for his family and give them opportunities he didn't have. However, he also went on to say that if he had been more strategic about it, he could have worked a heck of a lot less and still been able to do provide for his family just as well as he had.

I never asked him if he had a lake house or a boat, but I suspect he had all kinds of long term goals which he sacrificed his deeper desires for. Once we realize that our desires have many levels, we can create new plans to get what we really want right now (today!) with less room for regrets later.

Why not create some immediate means of having what you truly want right now while working towards longer term goals?

So when you identify a desire, be sure to check-in often and ask yourself: "What *do* I really want?" The answer may surprise you!

-Deirdre McEachern
ICF Certified Personal Coach
Deirdre McEachern's passion in life is helping her clients achieve their dreams. She believes strongly that everyone can create a career and life which they enjoy, expresses their natural talents and leaves them with plenty of time and energy for their relationships. You can contact Deirdre at deirdre@vip-coaching.com or visit her website at www.vip-coaching.com

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