How to figure out what you want

December 19, 2012

It’s all too easy to lose sight of we truly want. Digital overload, societal conventions, agendas from work, friends, family — all of these compete with our personal motives.  To get back to our beliefs, we need to get a little selfish (in a good way). One or more of these techniques should help.

Think about yourself
• Remind yourself that you don’t have to prove anything or prove someone wrong. This will free up energy to pursue your own agenda.

• It’s natural to look for patterns to predict the future, but what works for someone else won’t necessarily work for you. Your circumstances are your own, so if you want to look for patterns, review your own life.

• What’s the single thing you hope to achieve before you die? Candy Chang poses this defining question in a way that makes you think a little deeper. Watch the video.

• A manifesto for life (or work or love) can be anything you want it to be, as along as it’s true to you. Consider these manifestos from five successful, and diverse, men.

See who you’re listening to
• You know the people who rush to tell you what to do before you finish explaining your situation? Avoid them. Their advice is about them, not you.

• The people who give us the best advice are good listeners. That’s because they try to put themselves in your shoes. Choose these folks.

• For inspiration, and maybe a little guidance, look into the lives of people who followed their beliefs no matter what. A short list includes Martin Luther King Jr., Gandhi, and Nelson Mandela.

Act in your best interest
• Spend time listening to yourself and write down what you hear. At first it may seem awkward, but after awhile you’ll probably hit on some strong personal truths. These questions might help: Does this really matter to me? What am I really worried about? Is it my worry or someone else’s? What do I really know to be true?

• Make a collage. No, really. This is not just for teenage girls. By selecting images and other materials that appeal to you, and creating an order to them, you’ll tap into the self that lies beneath the surface of what everyone else sees. For guidelines on collaging, use the “Visualize It” tool in the Unstuck app. You can download the free Unstuck iPad app here.

• To get at your core beliefs, write a list of what you believe. Next to each item, write what you do. You may find that your actions don’t always match up with what you think. This calls for a shift, either in belief or action.

• Don’t imitate.

More Unstuck Advice

What to do — when you don’t know what to do Lesley Ware moved to New York City for her dream job. As the new project manager at a national nonprofit serving girls, she envisioned working with a ...
How to escape the busyness trap “I’m so busy!” It’s the auto-pilot response to “How are you?” these days. And of course we are busy. In addition to family, friends, and work, we’v...
You’re overwhelmed — so why won’t you ask for help? Leading by doing — we could write the book. We see the big picture, organize the details, meet the deadlines, and never let them see us sweat. Yep,...