This is the question I’ve been asking myself for the last two years solid, or since I officially entered mid-life.
And it’s been a struggle.
A couple years ago, I felt like I had hit the mountaintop. The summit.
Seemingly overnight, I felt like I had checked off all the most important dreams I had in my early life and way more.
And in a shroud of guilt, I was asking myself:
Is this as good as it gets?
I like to always be striving toward something. I’m an achiever. And I had a hard time thinking how life could be better.
Then I left the company I founded and embarked on my next adventure.
Which exposed the fact that I didn’t have a CLUE what I wanted.
I just knew what I DIDN’T want.
And so I have been on Search for my next Wants.
It seems like there are a couple of options about Wants … with definite pros and cons, and appropriate times for both:
- Knowing what you want
- Knowing what you don’t want
- Not knowing what you want
But they seem to go hand in hand …
Some Benefits of Knowing What You Want
The Takeaways of Knowing What You Want
- We are wired to want and crave certainty. Certainty and confidence in that certainty feels safe.
- Knowing what you Want is contagious. Having confidence in what you want gives others confidence in you. We all want to follow others who have clarity of vision and mission and alignment with our beliefs, values and mutual Wants. It’s energizing.
- Heading in a Direction without the precise destination gives flexibility and allows serendipity. I did not know I would love running a software company that did backups, security and maintenance. But I loved leading a team and making people’s lives awesome. I followed a direction and found an amazing adventure I couldn’t have dreamed of. I adored the Serendipity. It was better.
But as I’ve shown I don’t always know what I want and have had to go in a search to find this new round of Wants.
A Word on Knowing What You Don’t Want
I seem to be good at knowing some of what I don’t want. But it’s something and they provide some good clues.
Knowing what I don’t want is at least a starting point to knowing what I really want.
Some Takeaways of Not Knowing What You Want
- Knowing requires a Struggle of Time and Testing. So many times I wanted to say it requires suffering because I’ve felt like I’ve suffered through Not Knowing.
- In the moment, Time and Testing feels sucky. I’m not very patient. I have built up an aura of expectation that things just come to me (with hard work). And with hard work, I can speed up time. But I’ve had to learn to BE when I can’t DO any more. To just sit. To do what I can, and then at the end of what I can do … wait. I have a whole bag of cuss words to describe my feelings of that.
- When I look back, I HAD to go through the Journey of Struggle. It’s true of every hard time I’ve ever had to go through in my life. The Struggle, the Storms were what made me … prepped me … for the next Journey, the next significant Life Upgrade and the next level of Wants. I had to go through them in order to get here and go there — where I Want to go next. I had to be seasoned, I had to sit, walk, sit, walk, sit, sit, sit, walk a little. The universe was seasoning me. I had to sit on simmer for a while. (Just don’t tell me this while I’m in the Struggle!)
- The Journey requires being OK with being Uncomfortable. It means acceptance. It requires the beginner’s mind. It requires feeling exposed and raw and vulnerable. Feeling like you have no control.
- As we get older, we crave certainty and comfort more and more because we feel we already PAID our dues. Our expectations change because we’ve gotten through to the other side. For example, 10 years ago or so, I did the 7-day, 80+ hours a week work. Early mornings, late nights, waking up in the middle of the night. I did the grunt work, the shit work. I made crap for pay. I took orders. I answered emails. I responded to support inquiries. I made all the embarrassing mistakes and slip-ups. I’ve spent the time with egg on my face and gotten dirty in the trenches. Something inside me goes, “You earned the right to NOT do all that crap.”
- Thinking you have Paid Your Dues will hold you back from your Next Best. It causes all kinds of issues, but it stunts your growth. It warps your expectations. And it further prolongs your Journey and the Sitting, Simmering, Waiting.
- Bonus: That thinking is also selfish, arrogant and elitist. You’ll find yourself thinking and doing things that aren’t you. It’ll poison your dreams, decisions, progress and most importantly relationships. Reminder: You have not arrived, Cory. You’re always in motion and growth.
I don’t like to have or even acknowledge regrets …. but I have regrets about this season of my life in the Journey of Struggle.
Every part of the journey has a takeaway.
Even the sitting, waiting times have a gift inside for your Next.
This post is part of my 30 Days of Clicking Publish