“I don’t know what I want from my life.”
I hear it a lot as a coach.
As well as: “If I could just figure out what my purpose is, I’d be really happy.”
In fact, I hear it a lot, because often, I find myself saying it, too.
Whether it’s a career change, or a gut feeling that your partner just might not be the guy or gal for you anymore, or an invite to a party you kinda can’t be bothered to go to, or the toss-up between the purple running shoes and the sleek-looking black ones, do you often ride the merry-go-round of I-don’t-know-what-I-want?
We have so much choice, don’t we? So many options, so much out there for us to experience, and yet it’s all too easy to feel directionless, confused, rooted to the spot despite the ideas and possibilities and opportunities whirring at a gazillion miles an hour inside your head.
Which, as I’m sure you’ll agree, is a feeling that can really fucking suck.
So how do we know when to make it stop?
Let me ask you: When you go to the supermarket, do you write a list of groceries that you want, or a list of groceries that you don’t want?
I’m sure that most of you write a list of groceries that you WANT, right? For example, I’m transitioning to a vegan diet, so it’d be pretty pointless for me to write a long assed list of dairy and meat products that I won’t be eating, and therefore won’t need to buy…
…And yet in a way, it isn’t pointless for me to do that, because being aware of the things I don’t want is often a good way for me to work out the things that I DO WANT. And yes, ok, writing a supermarket list made up entirely of things I don’t want to buy may be a little over-the-top, but think about it, what if we all wrote a supermarket-type list of things we don’t want from LIFE? What would that be like?
Here’s my suggestion:
Grab a pen and some paper, or open up a blank Word document, and on it, write (or type) all the things that you DON’T WANT. Knowing exactly what you DON’T WANT from life – being aware of the things that just do not float your boat – is a very good place to start when you don’t know what you want.
It could be that you you’re sick to the back teeth of working 9-5, your boss is an asshole and you can’t stand the corporate world any longer.
Write it down.
Perhaps you are tired of being overweight, unfit and fed up of sitting in front of the TV every single night.
Write it down.
Maybe the thought of having children, a pretty white picket fence and weekend trips to the garden centre make your eyes roll and your stomach hurt. Know you DON’T WANT that?
Write it down.
When your mind is empty of the DON’T WANTs, start a new list of all the things you DO WANT.
Here’s some things I recently wrote on my DO WANT list:
1. To live in a different country.
2. To start a family.
3. To continue building my small businesses.
4. To run another ultra marathon, this time a reaaaaaaly long one.
5. To fly on a trapeze.
6. To keep challenging myself to do things that scare me (see point 4 & 5).