Discovering What You Really Want

Having trouble discovering what you really want? Read on... Remember playing make-believe games as a child? Maybe you used to leap off of the furniture wearing a Superman cape. Or you imagined yourself on a “Raiders of the Lost Ark” adventure. I laugh when I remember my childhood self! The closest I ever got to make-believe fantasies was arranging a mock trial court among my stuffed animals. Yes, even then I was such a realist. But I loved to solve problems. (My best friend and I once spent a whole week investigating a mysterious note we found on the bus. Probably just a fragment of another student’s vocabulary list!) I loved to read, too, but I was never really satisfied with taking in other people’s stories. I wanted to write my own.

Ask Yourself This Question

Most Americans don’t know what they want to do for a living. To prove it, I’ll ask you this: What would you spend your time doing if money wasn’t an issue? Don’t be hasty. “Golfing” is not an acceptable answer unless your life’s purpose is to be a professional golfer. Imagine you already took a long vacation with plenty of R&R. Now, what would you do?

Examine the Clues

Look for clues in your existing roles, both inside and outside of the workplace. Record in a journal the activities that give you the most fulfillment. Chances are you started off on the right path. Just a little tweaking to your plan could help you reach your fullest potential.

Take the Journey

My objective here is to inspire you to take the journey. To reconnect with the childhood version of you. Write your own story. Construct your dream job. Your mind will argue against this point, throwing excuses and limitations at you. But trust me on this: If you’ve got as little as 30-60 minutes a day (the time it takes to watch a single cable TV series at night), over time you can change your life. (Or your career!)

Notice Other People’s Discoveries

But don’t take my word for it. Read other people’s success stories to build your belief. I listen to live coaching calls every morning and one of our new team members shared how he was recently surprised with a promotion. See, he’d been reading leadership books every day during this 30-minute lunch break and it was improving his attitude and performance at work. The boss took notice. Here’s another surprise talent discovery. Unlike his contemporaries who had spent their entire lives practicing and perfecting art, Henri Matisse discovered his art ability during his adult life. He was not born with a special passion or aptitude for painting, yet you probably studied his work in a high school art history class. Matisse was actually a law clerk who suffered from depression, often bound to a sickbed. He was in his twenties before he picked up a paintbrush. There was no romantic, magical moment that released his hidden talent. Instead he labored for four years under “how-to-paint” manuals before being accepted into the most prestigious art school in Paris.

Open Your Mind to the Possibilities

The same could be true for you! You could be lying in a dismal predicament when someone (out of desperation to lift your spirits) hands you a paint brush. The point is, you may not know exactly what you want to do, but you can jumpstart the process by opening your mind to the possibilities. Here are a few books I recommend to get you started. I borrowed the story of Matisse from Now, Discover Your Strengths by Marcus Buckingham and Donald O. Clifton, Ph.D. This book defined my personality with shocking precision. (Unexpected benefit? I made my husband take the profile test. Turns out I’d been misinterpreting many of his behaviors, causing unnecessary hard feelings. I also learned how to use his “Activator” personality to get more things done for our business.)

Read Daily

If you’re looking for a new job or position, start with J.T. O’Donnell’s ebook, CAREEREALISM: The Smart Approach to a Satisfying Career. It helped me place myself into the activities that I most love. If you’ve been in the same field for a while, read Brendon Burchard’s Millionaire Messenger to help you uncover hidden expertise you already have. Ready for a lifestyle change? Then Brendon’s book The Charge: Activating the 10 Human Drives That Make You Feel Alive is a must-read to get yourself moving! For the really adventurous, pick up The 4-Hour Workweek: Escape 9-5, Live Anywhere, and Join the New Rich by Timothy Ferris. The end of your story hasn’t been written yet, so pick up the pen and start writing it! Photo Credit: Shutterstock

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