What Do I Want? 10 Powerful Questions to Ask Yourself

What Do I Want?

Have you asked yourself this lately — either out of frustration because you seem to be stuck on a hamster wheel that is leaving you miserable or unfulfilled, or because you are proactively checking-in with yourself to be sure you are making decisions that help your desires become your reality?

TL ; DR

  • If you don’t know what you want, you’ll stumble through life making decisions that are sometimes awesome, sometimes awful and mostly mediocre
  • If you know what you want — deep down in your heart and soul — you can use these wants as your guide
  • Do the activity to help you identify what you want
  • Ask yourself the questions to help you with the activity

 

Background

Many people are living someone else’s version of their lives rather than the version they’ve consciously decided to live.

They may have listened to their parents who wanted them to go to college/university to become a [fill in the blank].

They may be living their lives dictated by their employer who is expecting too much.

They may be living their lives as defined by their partner or friends who make decisions that are acceptable but not ideal — or maybe they aren’t acceptable but the person is feeling powerless to object.

Eventually the disconnect between what they are experiencing and what makes them feel fulfilled and joyful shows up with strained relationships and health issues.

We have one life and it’s important that we live each day in the best way possible based on what we want, our values, our purpose and the vision we have for our lives.

Sure, some days suck and unforeseen events happen to us that can go on for ages — that’s life — BUT knowing what you want is extremely valuable as it will help you when you have tough decisions to make.

My Story

When I started my business, I found a mentor to help me because I was learning through trial and error.

One of the first questions my mentor asked me was what I wanted – and I had no idea.  She said to me “Well, how are you going to get what you want if you don’t know what you want?”

It was a massive eye-opener for me.

  • How would I achieve any level of success if I didn’t know what I wanted?
  • How would I know what goals to make if I didn’t know what I wanted?

I had been going along, rather unconsciously — surviving as a single mom — living my life without any real purpose or plan except to care for my daughter.

Sure, I was doing my best to have fun on my wages and I was, mostly, enjoying life (except for my workplace, which was toxic) but I didn’t really know what I wanted.

When I met my husband (we’re celebrating our 25 year anniversary in 2020… woot! woot!) I was able to shift from simple survival to pursue my goals but I still didn’t really know what I wanted until my mentor asked me that very important question (Thank you, Valma!)

Do you know what you want?  

If yes, awesome!  If not, now is a great time to start thinking about it.

Below are some questions to ask yourself to discover what you want.  Some of the questions may be eye-opening for you too.  Sometimes people are so stuck (like I was) that they can’t find answers (see the Activity Tip).

Once you know what you want, you’ll decide how you are going to change things so that you are more aligned.  Some changes might take a long time and lots of planning.  Other changes can happen more quickly.

Regardless, any time there is a change, the status quo is disturbed, which will create ripples of impact.

Each action has a consequence and sometimes the consequences can be quite difficult before they become good.  For example, if you are living someone else’s version of your life, that person isn’t necessarily going to be supportive when you announce that you intend to make a change — so be ready for objections and reactions.

That said, it’s your life and you deserve to live it in ways that are aligned with your true self and what makes you happy.

10 Questions to Ask Yourself to Discover What You Want

  1. What Does The Best Day in My Ideal Lifestyle look like?  Answering this question will help you to get out of your head and all the things you’ve been told or expected to do and instead connect with your dreams.  Go to this post to find out more about this exercise.
  2. If Money Were No Object, What Would I Do Today, Next Week and Next Month?  This question takes the common objection of “money” out of the equation.  Maybe money is a challenge right now but, for most people, it’s usually about priorities and if the priority isn’t about YOU and doing what YOU want, then money will always be used as an excuse.
  3. What Are My Values?  Living your life in alignment with your values is important because when you don’t, you’ll have an internal conflict that can manifest in illness, mental health issues, relationship problems and coping habits that aren’t good for you.
  4. What Am I Tolerating?  These are things you put up with but they aren’t helping you get to where you intend to go, with a positive experience and joy.
  5. What Am I Most Passionate About?  This is also a great question to ask yourself to discover your Purpose.
  6. What Are My Health Goals?  Many people juggle their priorities and their health ends up low on the priority list.  However, without good health, you cannot do everything you envision and the Best Day in Your Ideal Lifestyle may not happen.
  7. What Are My Career Goals?  Again, ensure that these are YOUR goals, not the goals of someone else.  Are you secretly wanting to have a more fulfilling career?  Are you perhaps second-guessing your choice of careers?  (I know many people that have had major career changes — even people who invested in a PhD)
  8. What Are My Relationship Goals?  Who do you want to spend time with?  Who do you need to release from your life?  Are you missing some key people in your life?
  9. How Committed Am I to Make Changes To Get What I Want?  Nothing is going to happen unless you are willing to commit — every day — to make decisions that align with what you want.  If you have identified some big disconnects between the life you are living today and what you really want, there will need to be some big adjustments made to get you more aligned.  With big adjustments, you will find yourself resisting.  Check out the post on the Quadruplets of Discontent, which I identified are my biggest “foes” for reaching my goals.
  10. What Is Going To Make Me Want To Spring Out of Bed Each Day?  This is another way of asking the other questions.  Every day on “this side” of the grass is a good day (being alive).  However, I encourage you to make decisions so that most of your days are better than simply good days — they are great days.

“What Do I Want?” Activity

After you have asked yourself the questions above, figure out which are the most important to you.  Sure, you may have a list a mile long and that’s great but it’s easier to keep things manageable to combine different things into one more over-arching topic and to whittle your list down to a few topics.

When I did this exercise over 25 years ago, I wrote a section for myself, my business and my family.  There were roughly 5 topics in each section.  For example, at the time I was a military wife and I was growing my business.  There was a huge disconnect — I’d hired employees, I’d leased an office and my business was on the upswing.  BUT, being a military wife typically meant moving at the whim of the career manager and this wasn’t okay with me.  So, in my “What Do I Want?” list, I wrote, “I want to live where I choose to live”.  To this day this still holds true.  Family decisions were made based on this want and even though I haven’t yet moved to Portugal (which is where the Best Day in my Ideal Lifestyle takes place), I’m still working toward that because I’ve identified it as important.

Activity Tip:  If you do not know what you want, draw a line straight down the middle of the page and on the left side, list all the things you don’t want (or download the What do I want PlaySheet instead).  When you are finished listing all the negatives, flip them around and write the positive on the other side.  Then when you are done, rewrite the positive things you want somewhere (I prefer to type in Word and you can download the What I Want – Template here, but you might want to create a video montage or a vision board instead.)  Do what works for you!

I encourage you to keep this close by (I kept my in my wallet for over 25 years!) and update it as your circumstances and priorities evolve.  I’ve used my list a few times over this quarter-century (oh, I feel ancient now!) when I find myself stuck making a major decision.

After going through pros and cons and discussing with my husband, children and/or advisors, if I still couldn’t decide, I pulled out my list, looked at what I wanted and the decision was made.

It’s THAT powerful if you spend time and work through all the questions I suggest so that you can get beyond your head and into your heart and soul.

If you are still stuck check out the other posts about Identifying Your Core Values, Imagining Your Ideal Day in Your Ideal Lifestyle, Discovering Your Purpose and Creating a Plan to Get from Here (where you are today) to There (your Ideal Day while honouring your Wants, Values & Purpose).

If you are interested in taking what you’ve learned here (as an individual) and implementing it in your business or workplace, then check out the business-related posts in this blog.  (I’ll update this post as I add new resources and suggestions).

About the Author

As an entrepreneur, Carol Wain has created a number of brands which focus on integrating engagement, sustainability, and both personal and business performance.

She works with individuals in leadership and management roles and with aspiring entrepreneurs who wish to leverage the power of business to create positive change.

Carol is an author, speaker, trusted advisor and mentor who won Entrepreneur of the Year in 2003.

For more information visit CarolWain.com, EnlightenedCapitalist.org, and WorldIncentiveNetwork.com

How to Achieve What You Want in Life - Carol Wain

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