I do a lot of coaching with executives and non-corporate individuals. It involves asking good questions and listening to what they are actually saying. Many of those conversations revolve around where people are now and where they want to go in the future. Most of the time I end up asking the question, “What do you REALLY want?”
This can be a daunting question, especially if you have never given yourself time to think about it. So many of us live day to day getting things done that we forget to focus on where all those things are leading us. We are good at thinking weekly, monthly, maybe even annually, and often forget to think how all that fits into the end game. This question requires that we push back and lift our head from the fray, think big picture and connect the dots. It also means being honest with ourselves.
What you really want does not have to be a job or career based question. It needs to be a lifetime question. Time changes things and the plan we thought we were going to live out when we were in our 20s or 30s may no longer be the plan as those decades whiz by us. As we age and the years behind us lend wisdom and insights, the plan we thought we wanted needs to morph into what we really want. And what you really want means you also have to know what is important to you.
I spoke to a gentleman who admitted he felt trapped in his life. Tears began to fall and he didn’t know how to get off the wild ride he had admittedly created. As I listened I understood that he wanted a more meaningful life, one focused on his relationships not all the stuff. I asked how he had communicated this to his wife, and he admitted he was terrified to tell her about his self imposed entrapment. Being a good coach I encouraged him to talk to her and tell her the truth. I saw him several weeks later and he was a new man. His smile was bright, he had bounce in his step, and he seemed content to be himself. He told me he talked to his wife and she had no idea he was felt trapped. She agreed to begin getting rid of the stuff in their lives, so together they started selling off what wasn’t really important – the lake house, the boat, the ski doos, the camper, and all the other things they didn’t really need.
What we want may not be stuff, it may revolve more around relationships, situations, attitudes and satisfaction. We simply need to admit it this to ourselves and to those in our life. Most people know what they want in some areas of life – family, children, faith, a safe place to live, happiness, community service and financial stability. To connect the dots we have to understand where the stuff ends and the meaning of our life begins; and if we find ourselves spending the majority of our time gathering stuff when we really don’t care about stuff, then we need to retool and focus on what does matter.
How would you answer that question – what do you REALLy want? It may take time to filter though it all and admit to yourself that the path you are on will not lead you to where you really want to go. Have the guts to do what you want to get where you want to go, and share it with those who love you. Life is a journey and has a limited run, so spend your days doing what is REALLY important to you.