“It’s important to know the real you. For years I didn’t know who I was. So I went to a psychiatrist. He took one look at me and said: ‘This is not you'”.
How To Discover What You Really Want
We all want more or less the same sort of things in our lives. Health, happiness, family, friends. A sense of self realization, a feeling of belonging, to reach our goals and so on.
It’s how we achieve all this that matters most of all.
We want to be able to spend our time on activities which involve our passion and which reflect and further our values.
Particularly in our working lives, which make up around a third of our total lifetime, we want to be engaged in activities that correspond with who we really are.
You probably don’t need to consult a psychiatrist to find out who you really are, as in the comedy quip by stand up comedian Jackie Mason. But we should aim to make sure that the way we spend our working life enables our true passions, values and goals to be realized
The trouble is that a lot of people find themselves ending up in jobs in which their passions, values and goals come second place or lower – or even end up abandoned or forgotten about completely.
It’s easy to get drawn into the daily grind of earning a living, paying the bills and consuming. Buying more and more things that we think we ought to have.
Or trying to keep up with other people or doing what is expected of us, but which isn’t actually we ourselves really want. All this has also happened to me in the past.
To live our lives the way we really want, then we need to take the time to stop and think about and identify what it is we really want.
That way we’ll be in a better position to choose and take action to do what we really want and avoid spending our time on activities that aren’t what we want. Simple isn’t it?
So how do we work out what we really want in our working lives and what we don’t want?
Here are my thoughts on this…
Some Tips For Finding Out What You Really Want in Your Working Life
Ask yourself some questions.
First the obvious one. What do you really want in your working life?
People are often more clear about what they don’t want. But what they do want is sometimes not so easy to work out. What we think we want is often influenced by other people, by the friends we keep, by our upbringing or our cultural conditioning.
We have to go one step further and not just think about what we don’t want, but also about what we really DO want.
What we want in life affects both our working lives and our free time. They both impact on each other, so it’s not so easy to separate the one from the other.
You can often find strong clues to what you really want in your working life from your free time interests.
Our leisure interests often reflect more honestly what we really like and dislike. So ask yourself: what do I like doing most in my free time?
You can also ask some deeper questions. For example, what would you like to change most of all in the world? What do you think is the most pressing problem people face right now?
What would be your “perfect day”? What would you do, how would you spend it? Where, and with whom?
What would be your ideal “millionaire lifestyle”? Do you really need a million Dollars to live it? Probably not! Describe it in detail to yourself.
There”s also the “gravestone exercise”. For this you ask the question: “What would you like the epitaph to be on your gravestone?”
Or how about if you were writing your autobiography. What would the main theme? What would you call it?
Imagine you were giving a public speech about the most important thing or activity or achievement in your life, what would it be about?
What if your older self were to meet your current younger self? What advice would your older self be giving your less experienced younger self about how to live your life for the future?
What I Discovered That I Really Wanted
When I did these exercises, I worked out that I like to be creative. Creative in the sense of being innovative, being able to change things, to do things in new ways, and to challenge the status quo.
I also like helping other people achieve things in life. I like to start new businesses, I like utilizing new technologies, especially the Web. And I also like to help others to do this. And I like to be in charge of my own work and destiny, to steer my own ship.
I also don’t like being stuck for a long time in the same cycle of repetition. I hate stagnation. There has to be progression. I don’t mean in terms of working the way up some organizational tier of management.
I’m talking about what I create and the value I offer, together with the experience and skills I can develop and tap into for this. And I like to see the results of my activities, the output, and how it helps other people.
Try This Exercise For Yourself!
So now it’s your turn. Think about what you really want in your working life. What matters most to you?
Don’t worry at this stage about whether you think it’s “unrealistic” or hopelessly idealistic. This is after all an important exercise. It’s about discovering “the Real You”. No need to consult a psychiatrist.
Just identify it and note it down. It doesn’t cost anything and it will give you clarity on how you should be moving on in the future. Good luck!