And yet few of us know how to get to our core desires. We end up letting life live us instead of living according to our own intentions and designs.
I’m writing this article in December, and every year at this time, I watch people grapple with the New Year’s Resolution dilemma: To resolve or not to resolve? And if so, what?
Most of us have learned from experience that making resolutions doesn’t change our lives. If we decide to make one anyway, thinking this year we mean it, we pick something we think we should do to be a better person: Lose weight, quit smoking, find a better job. But in the end our resolution turns out to be just so much wishful thinking.
Deciding to enhance your life is a noble act. But will power burns up quickly. Temptations and distractions loom large. And setbacks can send your whole effort crashing to the ground.
To create a life that excites you and lets you unfold your true potential, you need to begin with identifying what you really want in your life.
When you know, deep in your heart, what you want to have, and do, and be, you have authentic guidelines for living. You wake up in the morning with a sense of direction and purpose.
When you know what truly matters to you, you’re alert for opportunities; you know when to say yes and when to say no to things; you’re not pulled by momentary distractions, temptations, or setbacks. You’re living intentionally, in alignment with your own purposes. And that’s a powerful way to live.
Ask Yourself These Questions
To get started on discovering what it is that you really want in life, take time to consider the following questions and to answer them for yourself.
You may want to print them out to keep them where you can see them. Then set aside some regular time for working out your answers – even if it’s only for 15 minutes a day. Pay attention to the thoughts and signals that come to you during your day that give you clues. You have all the answers inside you. And the process of discovering them can be life-changing—and great fun.
1. Which parts of your life interest you the most? What are your priorities? Rate each of the following areas on a 1-10 scale, where 1 means you don’t really care about that aspect of life very much at all, and 10 means it’s one of the most important parts of your life. Then decide, if you could focus on only 3 – 4 areas this year, which would you choose?
- Significant Other/Romance/Family
- Friends/Social Life/Community
- Personal Growth/Spirituality
- Physical Environment
2. How would the key areas of your life look if they were ideal? How would an ideal day unfold if you were giving this aspect of your life your best? Take time to imagine it. Who kinds of things would you be doing? How would you feel? Who would be with you? What would people be saying about it? A clear vision of what you’re aiming for is a dynamite motivator.
3. In what ways do you want to develop more mastery or competence? What are you curious about learning in each of the priority aspects of your life in order to make it better? What new behaviors would you like to begin practicing? How might you go about it?
4. What stops you? What barriers stop you from being more? In what ways, or in what activities or environments, do you feel insecure? How might you begin to practice more courage in this area? How can you take more risks? In what new ways can you respond when you feel fear?
5. What resources do you need? What information, materials, time or support might you need in order to develop priority areas of your life? Where might you get them? Who can help you? What are you willing to trade or give up in order to get them?
6. Do you know your personal character strengths? (Learn more here.) How might you use them with greater focus and intention in your daily life? How can you apply them to move you toward your ideals?
7. What tools do you have for reducing the stress in your life? How regularly do your practice them? Would it benefit you to add a favorite or two to your daily routine? Would you like to learn new techniques? How might you go about it?
8. How can add more happiness into your day? What pleasurable activities might you do more often? Happiness comes in different flavors. Which of the following positive emotions most mean “happiness” to you? How might you choose to experience them more often during your day?
Set aside time during the next two weeks or so to play with these questions and see the new sense of direction that develops. Then work out a plan for applying the ideas you generate into your real life.
Yes, it takes some concentrated attention. We’re not used to doing the kind of digging-for-inner-gold that these questions require. But the reward is living a rich, satisfying, self-directed life and worth every second that you spend on it. Why not get started today?
If it feels like it’s more than you can do alone, shoot me an email and I’ll give you a call. We can talk about what you want to achieve and the ways that personal coaching might offer you the clarity, confidence and support to move ahead.
Illustration by svilen001