Tuesday, 19 July 2011

The 5-Step Process to Getting Clear on What You Really WANT

Few things are as important to your personal resilience as identifying your overall direction in life, getting clear on who you are, where you're going and what you really want.  Yet many are those who bumble ahead without first paying their dues at this toll house of life... and they pay for it down the road with confusion, uncertainty and unhappiness.

So this first step is critical.  And contrary to what some think, this is not about making a list of neat things to have.  This is not like making your Christmas list!  It’s not about making a list of every little thing you might like to have.  Would I like an electric back-scratcher?  Well, if someone offered it to me I suppose I wouldn’t turn it down.  But if no one offers it to me I’m unlikely even to think about it for years, if at all.  This isn’t even about getting all the stuff you really want.  This is about first and foremost finding out who you are.

The Critical "How To" Steps

First, make a list of everything you've been really interested in during your life.  Write that down.  You can use an ordinary piece of paper, a journal or a word processing program to do this – it doesn’t matter.  But it does matter that you do it in writing!   It’s good to ask other people who know you well if you’ve missed something.  Ask your parents, peers, siblings, or anyone who knows you well.  You should take a couple of days to do this.  Start today.  Then come back to it once a day for a couple of days.  After this and ONLY after this, go on to step 2…

Second, make a list of everything you've been really good at during your whole life.  Someone once wrote to me claiming he had been totally mediocre at everything his whole life.  I’m sorry, but I think there are probably some self-esteem issues there that are obscuring the truth, because  everybody I know has lots of talents, irrespective of their level of intellectual sophistication, their education, or any other factor.

Do the same thing here – take a couple of days.  Ask those who know you well.  Now comes the hard part…

Third , look for patterns.  You try to answer the question "why"?  Almost everyone skips the third step - big mistake!  The third step is harder to do, and there is not necessarily a right or wrong answer.  It's a voyage self-discovery.  This is not simply an intellectual process – it’s a process of feeling, of emotion, of the heart.  You can't force this process, so just let the answers come to you.  If anything does come up, write it down.  If you really don't see any connections, any unifying themes, don't worry and just move on to the next step.

Fourth, find out what really inspires you.  You see, it is not enough to know what you want.  It is not even enough to know what you're really interested in or what you’re very talented at.  What you need to know here is what overriding purpose inspires you deeply.  There could be more than one.  What turns your crank, what floats your boat?

You may have a huge interest in aircraft.  Any idea why?  Maybe you are a natural comedian.  Do you know what it is about comedy that turns you on?  What can you work on or think about for hours and lose all track of time?  What purpose, issue, field of endeavor or question fills you with inspiration and energy, so much so that you feel like you’re carried on a wave?

Fifth, do this exercise: take the lists of your interests, talents and the connections between them and imagine jobs you would be totally jazzed about havingYou can make them up.  For instance, if you’re the aircraft lover, imagine someone offering you the job of looking after the aircraft of the world’s largest aviation museum… with a huge budget for new acquisitions that you decide on!

Take your time and just imagine different jobs you could have related to your passionate interests.  REMEMBER: these jobs don’t have to be real.  Don’t let your cursed sense of reality get in the way – just have fun with this. 

The Temptations
After studying and experiencing various types of mindset work over the years, it seems to me there are some fundamental traps to avoid:

  1. Worrying about your doubts.  The antidote is to go and do the things that will bring you results.  Usually these are activities that are just outside your comfort zone but, once you start doing them, they feel SO right.  Also, realize that doubt is a natural stage when you're about to do something new and different.  Just don't let it paralyze you ;-)
  2. Sweating about not having clarity.   The antidote is to take action on the small things you are clear about.  And realize you can't force clarity.  All you can do is continually stay inspired and let the answers come.
  3. Thinking "I'm not passionate about anything."  That's because you've let the fire go out.  I've studied martial arts for years and years, but if I don't keep up with what's going on, if I don't read, study and practice, I lose that inspiration pretty quickly.  So no matter what you're interested in, you pretty much have to toss logs on the fire of your inspiration.  That fire won't feed itself - you have to do that!  

If you follow this process and avoid these traps, you'll be amazed at how much more clarity you have on your life within a matter of weeks.  Now go for it!
~ Dr. Symeon Rodger :-)

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