Tell Me What You Want, What You Really, Really Want!
Do you know what you want out of life? I mean do you REALLY know? I used to think I did. I had gone to school, gotten a few degrees, held a variety of decent jobs, and eventually a good career in teaching. I had a bunch of friends, a solid relationship, a house, a dog, eventually two kids, etc, etc. Basically, I was on my way to having all the 'trappings' of a pretty standard, so called 'successful' life.
Then I discovered that chasing after what I wanted, or at least what I thought I wanted, or even more accurately, what society said I should want, was not making me happy. In fact, at a certain point, I realized that I was waaaaaay off course. I started trying to figure out how this could be. I had done all the right things. School, jobs, mortgages, marriage, kids. I was a responsible adult dammit! I HAD to be happy. But somehow, I just couldn't shake the feeling that something wasn't quite right. I was parading around in my best polyester pants and heels, just like all the other professional women....but I felt like I was wearing a COSTUME. This was a persona, this was NOT who I was. In fact, this is NEVER who I intended to be! I found myself wondering, "What the hell happened here?"
I definitely loved my husband and kids.....no regrets in that department. But as far as my day to day existence went, I longed to throw my jeans on in the mornings and walk around in bare feet, writing, creating, and connecting with the people and things that resonated with me. I wanted to teach people about stuff that I felt REALLY mattered, not teach from a 'prescribed' curriculum which was definitely NOT my idea of essential learning. I wanted to live by my own rules, not someone else's idea of what success meant. In my heart, I was a free thinking, buck the status quo, left of centre bohemian....not a tickey box checking, follow the rules, polyester pant wearing , inside the box thinking yuppie. Not that there's anything wrong with that. Hey, if that's what makes you happy...carry on! All I'm saying is, it definitely isn't me.
If you've read other blog posts and looked around my site a bit, you may already know that gradually, I started making changes. Changes that started bringing me back to my true self. Changes that made me feel more and more like I was living in integrity. I got a new job, got more into yoga, dug deep for my purpose, took a bunch of courses, read a ton of books, reconnected with my creativity, met some new people, and gathered some mentors. Fortunately, I married a guy who is also a left of centre creative soul who supported me, and started making changes of his own. Now, we are both closer than ever to where we want to be, and much of the reason for this is because we have been getting intimately acquainted with what it is we really want out of life.
On this 'soul searching' expedition, I discovered a woman named Danielle LaPorte. What she had to say, and how she said it, slapped me square in the face. Her words resonated deeply and made so much sense to me that I was finally able to connect the dots. What was ultimately missing from my happiness equation was that I wasn't paying attention to how I wanted to FEEL. Freaking Brilliant!
Think about it. You go through life setting goals, chasing the dream, accumulating accomplishments, jobs, relationships and stuff. But why do you do these things? The answer is that you are chasing certain feelings. We all are! You expect that by acquiring all of these things, it will make you feel better in some way. Sometimes it works, at least for a little while, and sometimes it doesn't. That's because you don't really know what it is you want. More specifically, you haven't gotten acquainted with what Danielle LaPorte calls, your 'core desired feelings'.
Once you dig deep and decide how it is you want to feel in life, you can stop doing all the stuff that doesn't help you feel that way, and start doing more of the stuff that does! Sounds simple enough right? Well it's not rocket science, but just like anything of value, it takes a little effort and commitment. The good news is, it's actually kinda fun. It's pretty cool when you start to discover what REALLY matters to you!
The simplified process is as follows:
First, what you want to do is take a close look at your current 'state of affairs'. I mean, put it under the magnifying glass. What sucks your energy, what charges your batteries, and what are you grateful for? If you like to dissect things, you can break this down into categories by looking at each area of your life separately such as; relationships, livelihood, health & wellness, personal growth, etc. Whatever works for/makes sense to you.
Then you decide how you want to feel in these areas of your life. You really have to do some exploring here. It's not enough to say, 'I want to feel successful', for example. Cause really, what the hell does that even mean? The question is, what does success feel like to you? You have to get super specific. This may require you to look up words and their meanings in the good old fashioned dictionary, so you can examine what resonates with you.
The idea is to come up with a short list of say, 3-6 core desired feelings. Those numbers aren't written in stone, but it's important not to let your list get out of hand because it just gets unmanageable and you lose the potency.
There is plenty of room for flexibility in this process, which totally works for me, because you KNOW how I love being told what to do.....cringe. However, it is of the utmost importance that you do follow this one particular rule......DO NOT criticize or judge yourself for wanting to feel a certain way. You are who you are and you want what you want. As long as that isn't damaging another soul in some unforgiveable way, you are entitled to feel however you bloody well please, regardless of what anyone else thinks about it. Stay true to you, or there is really no point in going through this exercise in the first place.
Finally, when you have nailed down your list, you begin making your decisions based on whether or not your choices are going to get you more of those desired feelings, or detract from them. It's like that game you play when you're a kid where one person tries to find something and the other person says they are getting hotter or colder depending on how close they are to the object. The idea here is to get red hot by moving closer and closer towards your core desired feelings.
One last note: remember that nothing is ever written in stone. You now have a basic road map for where you want to go, but don't worry about getting it perfect on the first try. You can and should re-examine your list of feelings regularly to see if you have outgrown any of them. It's perfectly o.k. to change your mind! I've changed my list more than once in the last 6 months alone.
In case you're curious, my current list is below. But don't quote me on this because it will definitely evolve over time.
I want to feel.....
Now go ahead. I dare you to find out what it is you REALLY, REALLY want! I promise that you won't regret it. This is a total game changer and it makes so much more sense than setting traditional goals...shudder.....based on someone else's idea of success.....gag.
Thanks to Danielle LaPorte who has inspired both me, and this post. Among other things, she has written an entire book on how to figure out your core desired feelings and generate more of them. If you're intrigued by this notion and want to dig deeper, I highly suggest you read her book, The Desire Map - A Guide to Creating Goals with Soul'.
Also....stay tuned for details of upcoming Desire Map workshops that I will be hosting as a licenced Desire Map Facilitator :) Can't wait to guide and support other folks through this process!