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Know What You Want

This may surprise you, but many people don't know what they want in life. This is unfortunate, because getting clear about what you want is essential to manifesting the good things that we desire into our lives.

What do you want from life? This simple question leaves many people speechless. Yet it's essential to give it a lot of thought. When you take the time to list your deepest desires, you may be surprised at how little your wants have been directing your life. There's a good reason for that: without that clarity, you're directed by circumstance rather than by your core principles.

"If you don't know where you're going, any road will take you there. - George Harrison

know what you want

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Writing down what you want in life is, and should be, challenging. You may find it easier to do as a second step, or in combination with the other half of this exercise, which is to...

Know What You Don't Want!

This is different from NOT KNOWING what you want. Instead, it's defining for yourself what you DO NOT WANT to have happen to you, materially, emotionally, or spiritually.

Many of us have an easier time articulating what we don't want than what we do. This is because of limiting beliefs: the programs encoded on our subconscious at a young age that create self-defined limits to what we can experience or accomplish, how BIG we can go. We may feel unworthy of dreaming big, or undeserving of the rewards that big plans make possible.

know what you don't want

It will feel cathartic, like the satisfaction you get from cleaning house. Once your list is done, put it aside. You now know where NOT to direct your thoughts. Don't feed what you don't want with any more energy than it takes to write it down!

With that step complete, we're set up for the really fun part, which is writing down what you DO want. Let your imagination run while doing this, there is no cost to writing down a desire. Don't be afraid to want great things!

Got your list? Great! We can now begin the work of directing our thoughts to starve what we don't want, and to feed what we do want.

Know What You Want: Gaining Clarity

Many people make decisions based on a pain/pleasure dynamic: avoiding pain and gaining pleasure. If the pain of breaking an old habit is too great, then they won't make the necessary effort, even though they know there is a pleasure award waiting for them.

When we create want / don't want lists, we create clarity. Gaining clarity about what we want and don't want allows us to direct our thoughts and other energies toward the pleasure of what we want and away from the pain of what we do not. Importantly, it opens our hearts and minds to inspiration, from where we get messages directing us toward our life's purpose. This gives meaning to our personal growth work, and finding meaning is essential.

clarity through the clouds

Holocaust survivor, psychiatrist, and author Viktor Frankl insisted that people are motivated by the search for meaning more than any other drive. Once found, meaning provides the "why" that carries us through periods of difficulty. Know what you want, know what you're living for, and you have a unshakeable foundation to support you.

As Frankl experienced first-hand, people can endure unimaginable suffering if they have a reason for persevering. And a lack of meaning robs the will to live.

Clarity feeds courage and conviction, and bolsters a strong self-image. It directs us toward the better life we choose for ourselves.

Mental Rehearsal: Pre-visualize Your Day

When you know what you want, you can apply this toward directing your day, every day. A short visualization exercise, done as a daily, morning practice, is a way to put your new-found sense of clarity into action.

Get quiet, and run through your day like a movie in your head. If it's a routine day, concentrate on the little steps that help your day run smoothly. And not just the events: allow the emotions associated with the events to bubble up from below. In other words, not just seeing yourself get through a tough day, but accepting the range of emotions that come up. Feed the life-giving, positive thoughts and push out negative ones that weaken the spirit.

If it's a day with uncertain outcome, visualize your success and the good feelings they generate. See yourself rising to challenges and handling surprises with ease. Having visualized how your day will play out, you're naturally better equipped to handle whatever comes your way.

know what you want

More mental rehearsal: Pre-visualize your future

Daily visualization will help you shift the tone of your thoughts. Because every day is different, this practice works best when done daily.

What about the longer term? Does our pre-visualization practice work for goals with a longer lead time? Of course it does! To know what you want grants power to shape your future. The mental pictures we paint for ourselves act like a seed crystal, creating a template around which your future coalesces.

In his book "You Are the Placebo: Making Your Mind Matter", Dr. Joe Dispenza has this to say about mental rehearsal: "...the circuits in your brain begin to reorganize themselves to reflect what you're mentally rehearsing....At this point your brain and body are no longer a record of the past; they are a map to the future - a future that you've created in your mind."

To review....

  • Articulate what you don't want, then stop thinking about those things, thereby starving them of energy.
  • Get clear, know what you want, then direct your thoughts, laden with positively-charged emotion, toward those things.
knowing what you want

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