A Method to Uncover What You Want

By Jalene Case

What do you want? This question is simple on the surface but the answers to it can sculpt your life, define your goals, and bring a myriad of emotions from frustration to fulfillment. By declaring what you want, you’re also deciding what you don’t want, and drawing a blueprint from which to build your goals. Consider the definition of want: to feel a need or a desire for; wish for. When was the last time you thought about what you truly wanted, desired, wished for?

My coach asked me to write what I wanted in 30 days, 90 days, 12 months, 5 years, and 10 years. I enthusiastically dove into the assignment. Knowing what I wanted in the next 30 days was easy. Knowing what I wanted in all the other time frames stumped me. I felt surprised and confused! How could I possibly not be able to write what I wanted? Rather than quickly getting the assignment done, I decided to dig in to figure out what was getting in my way.

First, I did a session of wild writing to gain insights into what was driving me from the inside out. This technique, outlined by Natalie Goldberg in Wild Mind, is designed to bypass your inner critic and get to your inner operating system. Every time I do it, I see the situation from a new viewpoint.

If you’d like to try it, there are a few simple rules: 1) Hold a topic in mind. Example: What do I want? 2) Use a prompt to write for two, 10-minute sessions. Example: For session one, I know… and for session two, I don’t know… 3) Go for the jugular. In other words, don’t hold back; know you can destroy it later if you choose to. 4) Read what you wrote and circle what stands out to you.

From my wild writing session, I realized that I wasn’t allowing myself to want what I really wanted. I felt like it was too much to ask for, felt anxious and afraid. Yikes. I could hear that inner saboteur voice coming through loud and clear. It said things like, who are you to want that, that’s too much, you should be more humble. The kryptonite to that kind of inner dialog is light-hearted play, so I played.

I gave myself full permission to write (with fun, colored markers on my whiteboard!) whatever I wanted in each of those time frames. It could be ridiculous, gigantic, tiny, fun, serious – no boundaries! Viewing it from a third person perspective was also helpful. Example: What does future Jalene want? I left what I wrote on my whiteboard for a while so I could gradually hone it. I reminded myself repeatedly that I could want whatever I truly wanted.

Writing what I wanted led naturally to visualizing it. Seeing glimpses of what future Jalene wanted her life to look like from 30 days to 10 years felt powerful. Plus, I knew it was going to make my goals more potent when it came time to write them.

Next, I wanted to breathe life into my vision, to operationalize it, to make it part of my routine. Now it’s one of nine components on a Self-Leadership Blueprint that I designed. The document hangs on the wall near my desk and is read weekly within about 5 minutes. As I read it, I’m reminded of where I am now and where I want to go the future. That’s huge for me!

I can be super-efficient at being busy with what needs done right now, what’s urgent and even important, but lose sight of the big picture I’m painting of my whole life.

Examining my wants has grown like a field of wildflowers in my life, popping up in unexpected places, bringing splashes of color to mundane decisions. I hear the word want when it shows up in everyday internal dialog. For example: What do I want to eat? What do I want to do next? Where do I want to go on vacation? Those all seem like simple questions and yet, they will shape me physically (what I eat), how I use my precious time (what I do), and how I enjoy myself (vacation).

Bottom line, actions based on consciously choosing what you want will bring feelings of fulfillment, contentment, and satisfaction. The return on your investment of time couldn’t be higher. I challenge you to find your way of discovering what you truly want. I’d love to hear how you unearthed your wants! Email me at [email protected] Note: This is part two in a series of nine blog posts exploring the Self-Leadership Blueprint.

This blog originally appeared on jalenecase.com