Tuesday, December 18, 2012

"All I want for Christmas..."

Clients often don't know what they want. I have to guess what they want, build it and show it to them. And then they decide whether this was what they wanted or not. This is a somewhat frustrating process but I understand them. They don't know how to want what they really want. 

I can see that because I too often want what I don't really want.

For example, I had this internal dialogue in my head earlier today:
"I only I knew where I want to be, I would go there."
"You already know where you want to be."
"True… Now, if only I knew how to get there…"
"You know how to get there too. You read plenty of smart people's guidelines, tips and tricks and have multiple scenarios of how to get there."
"Why am I not on my way then?"
"That is the question I don't know how to answer. Are you sure you want to get there?"
"Yes… sort of"
"Ok, let's take it as a yes. Now, do you know how to get there?"
"Yes, i think so."
"Ok so what's the problem then?"
"I don't really know if I want what I want?

Wanting the right things is a skill that is not only not taught anywhere, it's is actively discouraged. "Waste not, want not", right? Well, wrong. How else are you supposed to know what to do next if you don't know what you want to do today, this week, this year or in your ten year plan? Do what your mother told you? Or what your boss wants you to do? Do they actually know what is best for you? You are the single best-equipped person in the world to know what you want because well, you have your own best interest at heart (if not, you should) and you probably know yourself better than anyone else (if not, you should) and because you spend more time with yourself than any other person would. So if you are miserable you are the one who will have to listen to your own incessant whining, you are the one who's going to make you feel bad on a daily basis and you will be responsible for your own unhappiness.

So. Wanting things is important. Now how do you start wanting the right things.

1. It's a process. It's not like you can figure out your wants once and for all. You are a living person, your wants will grow and change with you. That is perfectly okay. 

2. Be selfish. Wants are selfish. It's okay. Healthy selfishness is good. The world would be much better place if people took better care of their wants and stopped doing so many things they think they should. 

3. Start small. Developing clear wants and goals takes practice. You probably won't be able to answer the question "What do I want in my perfect life" right now (If you can answer the question, you probably don't need to read this post further). So start small and concrete. What do you want to do this weekend? Or, smaller, what would you want to do tonight? Or in the next five minutes. Stop thinking "oh yes but I can't because x, y, and z". What is there that you want to do that you can do? Take a mini road trip to the nearby park? Go to a movie? Take a walk? Focus on experiences, not possessions. Things fade and fall apart, experiences stay forever in your memory. 

4. Let it flow. Don't censor yourself for your wishes. Some of the stronger wishes are seemingly irrational. I want to move to this city. I really like this song, I want to see this band's concert. I really want to talk to this perso.  If you ever find your brain doing the internal monologue like the one in the beginning of this post, reconsider your want. It's not the want that is wrong, but maybe your vision of this want is.  

5. Imagine. I dread very much the state of "should want" where I feel pressed into wanting something just because I think I should.  What do you (not your spouse, boss, or mother) want to do? Do you really want X? Why? You saw someone else has or does X? Forget for a second how will you get there. Imagine yourself when your wish had come true. You have or did X. How do you feel? Do you feel anything is off? Can you see why is it off and modify your initial wish? 

6. Practice, practice, practice. Gradually develop your wants to larger and larger things, but check in constantly with yourself if you still genuinely want them. it's only in trial and error you will find out that some things you want only so much and you're not willing to step over some barrier to achieve them. Thats' okay. It's okay to quit doing things you no longer want. Because it will free up time for doing things you actually want to do. 

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