When you’re not where you thought you’d be in life, part 2
There are 5 questions every person needs to ask herself when she’s not where she thought she’d be in life. We covered Question 1 last week (check it out here), and today, we’re diving headfirst into Questions 2:
Question 2: Are you clear on what you want?
Danielle LaPorte has an excellent tool available called The Desire Map. The basic idea of The Desire Map is to identify the underlying feelings you’re unwittingly pursuing to help free you from the trap of goal-setting and to-do lists.
Danielle asserts that we have things backwards when it comes to going after what we want. We think we want to amass wealth and possessions, to experience relationships and world travels, and to accomplish feats that will put others in awe at our high school reunion.
This is not the case. We’re not chasing these things, wonderful though they may be. We’re actually chasing the feelings we believe these things will bring us.
For example, you don’t drop a few grand and four years of your life just to get a piece of paper branded with the words ‘Bachelor’s Degree’ in Old English font. You do it because you want to feel accomplishment, admiration, or approval (most likely from your parents).
You don’t necessarily buy clothes because you’re in want of new threads; rather, you want to feel fresh, alive, and up-to-date.
You don’t go to the spa just to dip your feet in warm water. You go because you want to feel rejuvenated, pampered, and restored.
What we’re actually chasing in life are feelings, emotions.
This calls to mind today’s question: are you clear on what you want? In other words, what exactly do you want to feel?
Sometimes, we’re not where we thought we’d be in life simply because we don’t have a clear vision of what it is we’re pursuing. I was guilty of this for years, applying to graduate schools and programs without end only to find myself deeply unsatisfied and more than a little confused. I realized that I wasn’t necessarily interested in any one program per say—I simply wanted to feel as if I was constantly learning and evolving. I wanted to feel educated and also accomplished.
Once I determined what I really wanted, I could then readjust my priorities as well as realign my trajectory in life. I didn’t necessarily have to invest time in a formal graduate program to exist in a constant state of learning. I could simply read extensively (my second home is a bookstore, after all) or pursue other learning formats that were more flexible.
As far as accomplishment, while obtaining a graduate degree is certainly cause for celebration, I realized there were other ways that I could feel accomplished. Publishing my first novel would certainly bring that sense of accomplishment. So would successfully trying out a delicious new recipe in the kitchen. Hey, let’s be honest!
This self-awareness did a lot of things for me. For one, it saved me time. I freed myself up from a formal commitment as well as all the trappings of such a commitment (homework, essays, projects, etc.), which in turn gave me time to focus on things that would truly fulfill me. Once you’re free from someone else’s schedule, you can live your dream life and fill it with things that bring you joy, peace, and pleasure. You’ll also be heading in the direction of your dreams and not someone else’s definition of what success should mean.
I also found that the experience enhanced my focus so that I only pursued things that aligned with the feeling I was after. As I said, being that I wanted to feel accomplished and as if I was learning, I began to identify other ways I could achieve this feeling. I searched for free classes at local libraries, I invested in documentaries and e-courses, etc.
And of course, I saved money! I was in a particular program that would end up costing me over $60,000 in loans to complete. And who doesn’t like to save money?
Getting clear on what you want and what you’re after is absolutely vital when you’re on the path toward your dream life. Remember: the only thing worst then heading to where you want to be slowly…is realizing you’re actually going in the wrong direction.
So ask yourself: what do you want to feel?
Accomplished? Loved? Supported? Successful? More spiritual?
There’s no limit to the feelings you can chase so spend some time right now listing them out to your heart’s content and then highlight the ones that most resonate with you. Then, start to organize your life so that these feelings are at the center of your pursuits. You might find that things originally on your day-planner don’t necessarily align with what you want. Don’t be afraid to let them go. The plant that flourishes is the one that’s regularly pruned. All the same, start to investigate new things you can add to your life to enhance it under your new vision.
Then, in the comments below, share your insights! What are the main emotions you discovered you wanted to feel in life? How are you going to nurture them? Tell me about it below, and don’t forget to share this article with a friend!