How is it that going after what you want is often seen as so irrelevant?
It’s not. It is the single most important topic in life.
I ask the question all the time of my clients: What do you want?
More often than you would guess, the answer is: I don’t know.
We have become so obsessed with what’s right, what we should do, the correct strategy or formula for doing life, “the way things are”, that many of us have made this question obsolete (or it never came around to begin with.)
When women start to ask themselves what they want, they often feel afraid. Why? Because there is a shitty story floating around in the world that if you have what you want then others are not having what they want. That it’s a win/lose proposition.
Well, my guess about that is that often, when we see men doing what they want, we get hurt by it. Hence, we have come to see that acting out what one wants is hurtful to others and therefore anyone that does that is selfish.
(I would argue that it is the way people go about getting their desires met, and not so much them having the thing that they want that is hurtful and causes damage.)
Alas, this isn’t about the men in your life that you’ve been hurt by; it’s about you.
One of the biggest inhibitors of women asking themselves what they want is the judgement attached to the answers that arise.
Women often wonder if it’s ok to want what they want.
- Is it ok to want to spend months away from my kid?
- Is it ok to want a man to support me?
- Is it ok to want to never clean my house again, or cook another meal?
- Is it ok to spend an entire day doing nothing at all?
- Is it ok to want my lover to tie me up and gag me?
Whether we like it or not, humans are naturally wired to pursue what they want. You eat the foods you like, and likely avoid the ones you don’t. You find a career path that you really enjoy or plays on the skills you like to use. You are attracted to activities, movies, recreation that appeal to you.
And, let’s face it. We usually find a way to get the thing we want.
Resisting the thing you want will bite you in the ass. Or make your ass bigger.
Ignoring what you want, or pretending you don’t want it just creates a longer road to eventually getting the thing that you want.
Imagine you walk into the grocery store, and you get a quick inkling of “I’d like some chocolate.” This never happens to you, does it?
You wander around the grocery store. You go through the produce section, you look at some of the fresh juices to see if there’s something there can satisfy your sweet craving. You maybe head towards the salty foods, the nuts or the chips or the crackers or the something else, just to see if you can distract yourself from the idea of wanting chocolate.
To no avail, 25 minutes later, you find yourself on the chocolate aisle and you pick out the bar that you like and then you go buy it. And now you have a basket of groceries that you don’t actually want, that you buy as well so you don’t look like the kind of person that would just buy (and presumably eat) a chocolate bar. And instead of eating a couple squares, you eat the whole thing. In your car.
There are many other examples of how this works, like people in marriages who have affairs, or people who hate their jobs so much that they find themselves laid off or fired. Just know that when you don’t face what you want head on, in your eventual road to having what you want, there will likely be more wreckage, because that desire has to come out.
Let yourself have what you want.
First in line for having what you want is knowing what you want. What do you do if you don’t know what you want? There are a few steps to this, which I’ll talk about another time, but for now, try sitting down with a pen and paper and ask yourself: what do I want? See what comes up.
Make a list of 5-10. More, if you’ve got time and are feeling inspired. The more you do it, the easier it will become.
Look. Right now, I want a shower, the sun to come out, someone to make me breakfast, and for the head cold I’m fighting to evaporate. See? That took 30 seconds. What was once really difficult for me has become second nature. And I don’t have any feelings of guilt or selfishness for wanting them.
Once you’ve made your list, email a couple of them to me, your extra-safe-secret-keeper. I’d love to hear about what you want and cheer you on for having it!