“Your work is simply to determine what you want.”
The rest will come naturally.
The problem that many of us have in feeling fulfilled, moving our lives in a positive direction, and getting what we want is not that we’re lazy, or lacking in motivation. The fundamental problem is lack of clarity. There is a wealth of evidence from psychology, coaching, and brain studies to suggest that most of us are pretty out of touch with ourselves.
When it comes to pursuing life goals most of us are walking with our eyes closed, bumping into things occasionally. Sometimes the bumps are inconsequential, and sometimes we stub or break our toes. We are especially likely to collide with overlooked realities when we don’t have external standards or authorities in place. For instance what our neighbors are doing, our boss, a milestone we're supposed to reach.
The problem with relying exclusively on external references is that a) they’re gone when they’re gone, or no longer relevant and b) they can cloud our underlying hopes and intent. In some cases they're not in our best interests period.
By getting better at tuning in to what’s inside of us, we don’t have to rely on the world around us to make our way. Instead of wanting aimlessly, we start allowing, in the following ways:
Allowing for dreams
“Dreaming” may sound fluffy, especially if you have unhealed battle wounds or are prone to doubting. But very often the reason we’re not clear on what we want is that we're protecting ourselves (see Allowing for fear, below). The Catch 22 is that you are very unlikely to make a real effort unless you truly believe it can happen, and this creates a self-fulfilling prophesy.
Allowing for fear
Dreams are based on basic desires and drives, and desire and fear are two sides of the same coin. You can’t have one without the other so if you haven’t yet, it is time to make friends. If you don't "go towards the fear" at some point, you'll only end up smaller.
Allowing for our experiences
People from achievement-oriented cultures tend to get stuck in their heads, coming up with endless lists of goals and to do's. These tools can be useful, but the weaker your grasp on their origin, meaning, and impact, the more likely you are to lose steam or go off course in a major way. Reflecting and tuning in regularly grounds and energizes.
If you can’t figure out what you want, it’s very likely you aren’t allowing for one of these things. It’s usually not obvious or easy, and you may need help along the way. But if you can do it well for one major challenge or dilemma, it becomes much easier for the next. You’ll have the clarity and energy to achieve what you want, naturally. You won’t hem and haw and doubt your decisions constantly. You will be free.