Do you know exactly what you want in life? Do you know how much money you’d like to be earning a year from now? Have you figured out what kind of lifestyle you want to have or the type of relationships you’re after? How clear are you about the values you want to live by?
If you haven’t achieved any “meaningful” goals in your life, it’s probably because you never took the time to sit down and think about what you truly want to achieve and how you want to live your life. You may have achieved several impressive goals, but were they truly yours? The meaningfulness of a goal isn’t determined by how important your friends, family, or society think they are. For a goal to be genuinely meaningful, it must be in alignment with your deepest desires. As you can see, it’s impossible to achieve meaningful goals when you don’t know what you want
Unfortunately, this is what happens to many people. Most people aren’t particularly sure about what they’re trying to accomplish in life. As a result, they go with the flow and hope for the best. They don’t set clear goals that they can work on daily, which makes it impossible for them to proactively create the life THEY want.
Many people dislike planning because they feel it will kill their spontaneity and take the fun out of life. They relish the freedom that comes from living in the moment and see no reason to give it up. After all, they might be dead tomorrow. No one knows what tomorrow may bring, so why not have fun today? That’s what they say, at least.
Fun and spontaneity are certainly exciting, and, like many things, are great in moderation, the people who eschew planning and goal-setting in exchange for these things are often the same people who end up broke, miserable, and unfilled, all while blaming everything but themselves for their situation. They don’t realize that life without a plan means working for people who do have plans. This leads them to spend their lives helping those people fulfill their dreams instead of creating the lives they want for themselves.
In this article, I’d like to give you 6 compelling reasons why you MUST get clear on what you want from life.
1. Knowing what you want enables laser-sharp focus
You can’t reach a target that you don’t have. If you know what you’re aiming for, however, you can get extremely focused on it. Your ability to focus is one of your most powerful assets. You can experience gratitude by focusing on what you have rather than on what you don’t have. You can also maintain positivity by focusing on solutions rather than problems. You can even gain self-awareness by focusing on being rather than doing and thinking. At the end of the day, it’s what you choose to focus on most that will determine the quality of your life.
Your thoughts are like sunrays; they aren’t very powerful without a specific point of focus, yet they become incredibly potent when you focus on something specific. The clearer you get on what you want, the more effective your focus will be. As you learn to spend more time focusing on what you want, you’ll increase your chance of attaining your goals.
Below is a quick exercise from Chip and Dan Heath’s book Made to Stick. It will help you understand the importance of having a clear focus:
Take 15 seconds to list as many white things as you can. You can write things down if you want. Do it now before you continue reading.
How many things could you think of? I came up with things like Apple computers and snow.
Now take 15 seconds to list as many white things in your refrigerator as you can.
Some of the things I came up with were eggs, tofu, salad dressing, and the fridge itself. Most people can list as many white things in their refrigerators as they can in the entire world!
I hope this has given you a better idea of how your focus works and how it can be harnessed to serve your goals more effectively directed towards your goals when they are specific.
2. Knowing what you want helps you make better decisions
Getting clear on what you really want will require you to look inward. In doing so, you’ll learn more about yourself and your core values. Once you understand your core values, you can make better decisions that are in alignment with who you truly are
For example, my core values include freedom, passion, and integrity. I use these values to guide me whenever I have a decision to make. I ask myself whether the choice I’m making preserves my integrity, creates more freedom in my life, and is in line with my passions. Being clear on these values makes it much easier to say no things that don’t align with them.
What about you? Do you know your core values? If you’re struggling to understand them, you can check out my article on how to find your core values .
You don’t want to be the person who spends years chasing a goal only to realize it isn’t what they really wanted. Talk about a waste of time! Sadly, this is exactly what the majority of people do. Because they don’t know what they truly want, they wind up buying into what marketers tell them they should want, like an expensive car, big house, or the latest gadgets.
Will Smith summed it up well when he said, “We spend money that we do not have, on things we do not need, to impress people who do not care.” Fortunately, you can avoid falling into this trap once you know who you are and what you want from life. Only you can decide what you want. Make sure that whatever you’re pursuing is actually worth your time.
A final note: It’s important to set goals that are in sync with your values and to learn to enjoy the process of achieving them instead of basing your happiness on the end results. Our brains are quick to latch on to future events as a source of contentment, but you have to learn to be happy in the present.
3. Knowing what you want saves time
When you know what you want, you stop wasting time doing things that have nothing to do with your vision. It becomes easier to make decisions because you know exactly where you’re headed. Needless to say, this can save you a lot of time and unnecessary effort. You’re less likely to spend time on something that doesn’t get you anywhere. You’ll be able to say no to things that don’t serve your purpose, regardless of how interesting or exciting they may soun
Let’s say, for instance, that you know what kind of man or woman you’d like to attract in your life. You can then ask better questions during dates and go where you’re most likely to meet the specific type of person you’re looking for. You won’t waste your time and someone else’s by dating people who aren’t a good match for you.
People rarely change, at least not without great effort on their part. If you think you can change someone who doesn’t share your values, you’re going to be very disappointed. By knowing what you’re unwilling to compromise on, you can stop yourself from getting into relationships that will never work and avoid surprises later down the road. You don’t want to find out that you and your partner have irreconcilable differences after you’re married with children. You want to know way before any of that! If you know who you are and what you want in a relationship, you don’t have to worry about that.
This also applies to other aspects of your life, whether it’s your career, finances, or general lifestyle. The clearer you get on them, the more you can use your time and effort to achieve faster results.
4. Knowing what you want allows you to tap into the power of your subconscious mind
Knowing what you want gives your subconscious mind a sense of direction. As human beings, achieving goals is in our nature. As the hypnotherapist Joseph Clough says, “We are the goal-setter and our subconscious mind is the goal-getter.”
Thus, your job is to give your subconscious mind a specific goal. When you do, it will work around the clock to help you achieve it. Think of your subconscious mind as a GPS. You can’t reach your final destination without giving it an address. So make sure your goals are as precise as possible. For best results, follow the S.M.A.R.T methodology:
SMART stands for:
- Specific: What exactly do you want? What are you trying to achieve?
- Measurable: Can you easily assess the progress towards your goal? How will you know if you’ve achieved it?
- Achievable: Is it achievable? Is the timeframe realistic? Can you put in the effort required despite other responsibilities?
- Relevant: Is it in line with your values? Does it excite you?
- Time-bound: Do you have a concrete deadline for your goals?
After considering these things, write your goals down. This will give them a place in the physical world and start the process of turning dreams into reality.
5. Knowing what you want allows you to create a solid life plan
You can’t create a plan for your life without knowing what you want. When you know your desires, however, it’s possible to choose a course of action that will allow you to get the results you want. Most people have some vague ideas of what they’d like to accomplish in their lives. They want to make money, they want to have more freedom, or they want to attract the ideal partner.
The thing is, those aren’t goals. They’re idle thoughts, because no one has taken the time to get more specific about them. This, of course, makes it hard to get tangible results. It’s difficult to live your dreams when all you have is unfocused wishes that lack a clear intent. To turn the previously mentioned thoughts into real goals, you’d have to dig deeper.
You’d have to figure out what money means to you. Is it an extra thousand dollars each month? Is it becoming a millionaire within the next 10 years? You’d have to do the same with freedom. Does working 4 days a week constitute as freedom to you? Or is it taking a 4-week vacation each year? Maybe it’s the ability to travel around the world for a few years, or having the option to work from home.
And what about your ideal partner? What attracts you to this person? What are their beliefs and values? Where are they likely to hang out? How do they spend their free time?
Clarity is key. Right now, you may already have some idea of what you want. I strongly encourage you to take it a step further by putting your ideas on paper and clarifying what you want. Writing things down is a great way to collect your thoughts and gain new insights.
You may also want to check out my article “How to Escape The Rat Race and Live The Life You Want”. It discusses 4 different lifestyles you can choose from and will make it easier to figure out the kind of life you want to live.
6. Knowing what you want allows you to reclaim your power
Most people have a reactive approach to life and don’t realize how much of their power they give away each day. Every excuse they make is a missed opportunity to take responsibility for their life and change their situation.
Not knowing what they want is another way in which they give a big chunk of their power away. They deny themselves the power to be proactive, go after what they want, and keep going until they make it happen. Since they haven’t committed to anything specific in life, they’re easily distracted and susceptible to the influence of people who do have clear goals.
Once you get clear on what you want, this stops happening. You stop going through life as if you have no power to change it. You stop working on other people’s dreams and begin tending to your own. Each day becomes a new opportunity to make progress towards your goals. When things don’t work, you try something new and soldier on until you finally achieve your goals.
So, do you really know what you want?
I hope this article inspires you to spend time figuring out your precise wants and needs in life. For more help in this area, you can check out my goal-setting book here. It provides a step-by-step process to set and achieve goals that truly excite you
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