Do you know what it is that you really want?
I’m asking because I didn’t, and I’m hearing this from so many other people that I know and care about that are facing – or have faced – something similar.
I’ll give you an example:
Many years ago, when I was in a really heavy transition phase in my life, I worked at a technology company for a brief time. It was a great company. Wonderful people. But the job just wasn’t for me.
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It was essentially an inside sales role where my job was to call people all day long. I had one of those headset things strapped to my face and I was telephoning people that, I can assure you, did not want to be hearing from me. I didn’t like it.
Now, to their credit, one of the managers at that company came to me and tried to help me out. She suggested that it would be motivational for me to go home and find a photo of a really fancy, expensive, fast sports car and another one of a of a dream house and then bring that back into the office. She told me to fasten those photos to the corner of the computer screen so that when I was making those calls and I was getting beat up by those angry people that didn’t want me to be bothering them, I would see the picture of the car and the house and think, “Oh yeah, that’s what I’m working for.” That’s what was supposed to inspire me to push on.
Well, I tried it. I really did try it. I gave it an honest go, but not only did that not make me feel better, it actually had the opposite of effect: it made me feel a lot worse. And for a long time I didn’t understand why.
Road to nowhere?
It wasn’t until years after the fact that I began to understand that spending a good part of the prime of your life trying to convince yourself to do something that you fundamentally don’t believe in doing so that you can have something that you don’t value or particularly want anyway is not a really great model for finding contentment and fulfillment.
Now I’m not for a moment suggesting that you shouldn’t want a fast car or a nice house. If I had those things too, I’d probably enjoy them a whole lot. And perhaps the things that your colleagues and peers value line up completely with what you want too. But if you have that little hum of anxiety, that disquiet in your spirit that suggests that you’re starting to call things into question, maybe you’re like me and you spent a long time chasing after things that you didn’t really value all that much at all.
If so, that leads you to the next thing, which is, “Well, what if I’m asking myself what I want and I don’t really know the answer?”
That can be frustrating too. But what I can share from my own experience is that the clarity on stuff like that only comes to those who are open enough to actually ask themselves the question.
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