career transitioning

Who are you? What do you want? Part 2

Part 2 of the mini series

Who are you? What do you want?

Last time we looked at the first question “Who are you?”

If you missed it you can read it here

Hopefully you discovered something about yourself, what you stand for, your values. By using this as a foundation you can start to make some better informed choices for how you choose to live your life, where you focus your time and attention.

Hopefully you came up with a sentence too that states what you stand for. Don’t worry if this is feeling incomplete at this stage, that is quite common, clarity often comes later. But hopefully you have a sense now of what your purpose is.

Why is it important to think about what you want? Well the truth is that we get or become what it is we focus on. We start to believe and make happen whatever it is we think about. So if we focus on what we don’t have, don’t want, don’t like, we tend to get or create more of that. If we focus on what we do want, do want to be, or do, then we tend to get more of that.

Often we think we know what we want but it ends up just swimming around vaguely in our heads as we tell ourselves we will get to addressing it one day and most likely never will. Because it is all so vague in our heads we are helpless to realise any of it. It needs bringing into focus, it needs shaping and defining. It needs quantifying.

Before I help you with identifying what it is you want, here are a few important points for you to bear in mind.

  • Understanding and focusing on why you want to achieve a goal or outcome will greatly improve your chances of success.
  • Outcomes and goals that are aligned with your values will greatly improve your chances of success
  • Goals stated in the positive and present are generally better, stating what you have achieved rather what you are trying to avoid. Such as “I now weigh 70kg” rather than “I don’t want to be fat anymore”
  • Try and set goals that focus on performance improvement that you can control  rather than outcome goals that you may not have control over improves motivation. For example “I have reduced my 10k run time by 2 minutes” as opposed to “I won the 10k race” – which is dependant on others performance too.
  • Focus more on the Why of your goal, rather than the How. What will this outcome bring you? What will it do for you? The How can follow later.
  • Make your goals SMART – Specific, so you know what you are trying to achieve, Measurable, so you know when you have achieved it, Action-orientated, so you can do something about it, Realistic, so it is achievable by you, Time-bound, so that it has a deadline.
  • There is no such thing as un-realistic goals, but there are unrealistic deadlines.
  • Learn to let go of the past, the things you can’t change. The sooner you can do this the sooner you have more time and energy and focus on what you want for your life.
  • Successful people create their own circumstances, rather than being a victim of their circumstances.

So how do you identify what it is you want?

Firstly find some space to think. Create space, or go and find somewhere inspirational to be, like beside the ocean, on top of a hill, your favourite beauty spot, wherever.

Now ask yourself this question. What is it I REALLY want? Allow time for things to come and go. You may need to do this several times to get a good sense of the answers. You have to put some time into this to get results!

Next find yourself a friend, partner or colleague, somebody you respect and who knows and likes you genuinely for who you are. Somebody you will feel safe sharing hopes and dreams with.

Now tell them a story. The story is set 5 years in the future. And you are telling it in the first person and in the present. The subject of the story is all the things you have achieved in the past 5 years. Tell it all, the house you built or live in, the holidays you have been on, the people you have met, where you are working and the successes you have celebrated, the new things you have accomplished in that 5 years. The important thing is to speak from the first person and the present. Allow yourself to experience the emotion as you describe in detail for example the house you built. How many rooms did it have, what is the layout like, tell them the colour of the walls and carpet. Where is it located? What sort of flowers can you smell in your garden. Get the idea? Tell them about all the achievements, both personal and professional. What does it feel like. Invite them to ask you questions to help it come to life. Like what sort of door handle is on the front door? What does the door bell sound like? Really dig deep and let your imagination run with this.

Then write it down. Be as specific as you can with what you talked about. As you are writing it down, ask yourself how excited you are about this goal. If it is anything less than 80%, it is unlikely you will follow through with it. In which case take some time out and allow yourself to dream and live in the future for a while, imagining what the life you want would look like, before doing the exercise again with your friend.

By writing it down it makes you focus on the bits you really want. Because you can have or become anything, but not everything. It acts as a useful filtering process.

Now all this takes time and effort, but not doing this usually ends up in mindless drifting through life feeling unhappy, ill at ease and discontented. Which would you rather? Put in some work and move towards the life you want or vagueness and discontent?

Remember your goals and dreams should excite you. They should stretch but not stress you. If you are not excited by them, go find some others that you are excited about!

Now put your specific goals somewhere you can see them. Better still make a picture board with all the good stuff on it and hang it where you see it daily.

Hopefully now you have a clearer idea and are feeling inspired by your 5 year vision.

Next time we will look at how to start moving towards what you want.