How to figure out what you want
After sending my last email: When we don’t know what we want, I received messages from people saying that they can really relate to it, but they just don’t know where to start… How do I actually figure out what I want? So I decided to dedicate today’s email to this topic.
All too often, we put so much pressure on ‘knowing what we want’ - we think there’s this one big answer we have to figure out and commit to for the rest of our lives. Instead, I see it as a perpetual conversation of following intuitive nudges and pings, listening to the whispers of our heart. Allowing it to grow and evolve as we go through the different seasons of our lives.
(with the exception of starting a family, that’s something you kinda need to commit to:)).
Here’s the thing, though -
Not knowing what you want isn’t the ‘problem’, it’s the symptom.
So if you want to find out what you want, instead of focusing on “figuring it out” (aka “forced thinking”), which only creates more overthinking and overanalysing, you may want to focus on removing what stands in your way of finding that clarity.
Here are some of the biggest blocks:
YOU ARE SUPPRESSING YOUR DESIRES.
Something I often see with clients when we first start working together in my 1:1 coaching program, is that they got into the habit of suppressing their desires, consciously and / or unconsciously. It’s a conditioned pattern that develops from your environment and / or experiences. For example, if growing up you were constantly being questioned by figures of authority (parents, teachers, etc.) - “Are you sure? Are you sure this is what you want?” you’ve likely made it mean that you can’t trust yourself / your desires. Or perhaps you had an experience of being laughed at when you shared a dream with friends? So we often judge our dreams, goals and ambitions before we even give ourselves a chance to entertain them. We talk ourselves out of things, dismiss our ideas, tell ourselves “it’s silly, what was I even thinking.” This is something we do to protect ourselves from the shame we’d feel if we disappoint ourselves or our loved ones. It’s something we do to protect ourselves from other people’s opinions and judgement. It’s something we do to protect ourselves from failing. But what if you could allow yourself to truly dream, without considering whether you can or should try to go after it? What if you could just allow yourself to dream without judgment?
YOU DON’T WANT TO KNOW WHAT YOU WANT.
Truth is that even if you think life will be amazing when you finally figure out what you want, deep inside you might be afraid of knowing what you want. What you want can sometimes be really uncomfortable, because it often requires you to step out of your comfort zone. It’s so much more comfortable to not know what we want. Think about it, if you don’t know what you want, you don’t need to do anything about it. You can’t fail at something you aren't trying to get. So in an attempt to keep yourself in your comfort zone, you’ll (subconsciously) look for distractions that will keep you from listening to your desires.
YOU’RE FOCUSING ON WHAT YOU DON’T WANT.
Most of us know what we don’t want. In fact, we find it really easy to go into a long, detailed explanation of all the things we don’t want. Knowing what you don’t want doesn’t necessarily mean knowing what you do. When we constantly focus on what we don’t want, we get more of it. That’s thanks to our Reticular Activating System, that filters input based on where our attention goes. Your brain will always find evidence for whatever concepts you come up with. You need to give your brain something else to focus on (like what you do want) to start getting something different. For this precise reason, when you’re using the words “I don’t know” you’re blocking yourself from figuring out an answer, you’re perpetuating not knowing. Instead of “I don’t know” try saying “I’m figuring it out.” This subtle, yet powerful shift can create a massive difference - you're giving yourself an opportunity to figure it out.
YOU ARE LOST IN SHOULDS, EXPECTATIONS AND OTHER PEOPLE’S OPINIONS.
As long as you’re busy pleasing everyone else, trying to meet expectations and following what you think you ‘should’ do, you’ll never be able to listen to your own desires. As an ex people pleaser I know how scary it can be, but oh dear it’s so worth it! Paving your own path, instead of following one paved by others, requires courage. Shoulds are just fear in disguise. And the great thing about letting them go, is that it reveals what we were so longing to protect - our deepest truest desires. So how do you figure out what you want..?
Identify what's blocking you from figuring out what you want + start breaking them down. Awareness can go a long way. Sometimes simply shedding the light on your blocks enables you to move past them. Allow yourself to dream!
Focus on one area of your life. I recommend choosing just one area to focus on so that you can give it your 100% attention and you don’t get overwhelmed with trying to change everything at once (if you have an all-or-nothing mindset then you know what I mean)
Create space for stillness and reflection. I recommend carving out time to get still and quiet down. When the noise of the world and the chatter of our mind is strong it’s really hard to listen to the quiet voice within us that already knows what we want. That could look like sitting meditation or spending time in nature without distractions. Then carve out some time to reflect and process your thoughts, so many insights can be revealed through writing!
If you’re putting pressure on yourself to figure it out, this following reframe might be helpful: it’s not about figuring it out, it’s about connecting with your desires and honoring your dreams
Hope you found this helpful! Let me know if you know which block you most identify with. Love, Naama p.s. if you’re still feeling stuck with figuring out what you want, it's sometimes helpful to think of the future you and what regrets she might have.