How Do You Decide What You Want in Life?

By Yen Uy

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[photo credits] Photo by Kaboompics on Pixabay

Whenever I coach, I always take note of how people talk about what they want. I find that there are two common ways people communicate their desires in life: they either talk about the many things they want and then decide on a main idea; or they talk first about what they don’t want and then zero in on what they want with what’s left. I used to think the latter way as well – I had to talk about what I don’t want first to figure out what I want. It was more a process of elimination with the last choice standing. That’s how I chose my major back in college; That’s also how I chose my first job.

Although both methods can get you to think about what you want, they’re not the same; you will actually arrive at two very different answers. Being well aware of what you don’t want does not bring you closer to figuring out what you really want. In the first process, you’re taking in information you already know. Then, you eliminate those you’re certain you don’t want, until you’re left with something. Not bad, you might think. Well, it’s not great either.

When it comes to some things in life it may be easier to make choices that way. When we participate in a process of elimination, we utilize much of our logical mind. Using logic is very useful. We need logic to live our lives effectively. But when it comes to deciding who you want to be, you’re going to need more than logic.

This is how the first way wins: by really engaging your feelings. When we allow our feelings to contribute to the decision-making process, it feels vulnerable. And if you’re like me, it’s a tough and uncomfortable place to be. If it’s not very logical, will it work out? Is it a bad idea? Am I being too idealistic?

I used to believe that logical decisions are for the long haul. If it makes sense, it will last a long time or I won’t get tired of it. But things don’t just need to make sense, they need to excite you too. Things need to make you curious. You need to be curious enough to want to discover more and more. In my experience, that’s what makes something last – when it allows you to discover something new over and over again, and you're enthusiastic to learn something new every time, like an insatiable hunger.

That’s the difference between starting from a place of "want" versus from a place of "don’t want". When you use the language of "want", you arrive at discoveries. When you use the language of "don’t want", you simply end up with what you already know and maybe a bit more.

How do you know what you really want? To start, you need to listen to your feelings and come from a place of self-worth. It’s easier said than done, of course. Your heart-mind has its own system and is very intelligent. It generates the energy we send out to the universe. The quality of this energy influences the clues we pick up about our own lives. So, find the time to connect with yourself and work on your self-esteem. Then, if you are curious and excited about something, follow it.