I came across this text the other day while googling “what you really want” (not for the first time):
“We often say we want one thing, say a million pounds, but what we really want is to give up our day job and go and live on the Costa Del Sol. Rather than focusing on what you think might get you what you really want, why not focus on what you REALLY want?
Sometimes you find that what you really want is easier to get than what you thought your Big Dream was. Sometimes you find that you can start to LIVE what you really want now, today, rather than waiting”
The text is written by Donna Higton and it really hit me. I’m very good at coming up with “noble” goals and aspirations. I keep reaching for what is achievable (with enough hard work and persistence). But often, behind it, is my real dream. What I actually want.
My “real dream” has for as long as I can remember been to write. Painting has played second fiddle to writing ever since I was a kid. Yet painting is what I’ve spent most of my time doing.
But why is that? There aren’t many prerequisites to becoming a writer. You don’t need to have “a million pounds”. You only need to make the time to write. So why haven’t I done it?
Let’s break down the quote above and dissect it. Here is the first part:
“We often say we want one thing, say a million pounds, but what we really want is to give up our day job and go and live on the Costa Del Sol. Rather than focusing on what you think might get you what you really want, why not focus on what you REALLY want?”
How do you find the real want?
The question is: How do you know what you really want? How do you know that there is a deeper want hidden beneath your so called Big Dream?
Here are some pointers:
1. Your intuition
Your intuition might pop up now and again and whisper: “This is not the right thing for you. This goal is close, and it’s good, but it’s not it.”
If you’re honest with yourself, deep down inside you know. But otherwise, if you’re uncertain, how do you hear your intuition?
You often hear your intuition when you have a little time off. When you’re in another setting. On a train or in a café. In another town or on vacation. Being away from the ordinary helps you access your intuition.
Another way is to decide to dedicate some time to your thoughts and to your dreams. To create space in your life to think.
Some people access their intuition through meditation. Others while walking in nature. For me it works best to write.
You can become aware of what you really want by journaling or by doing writing exercises.
While I was on a plane I did an exercise in Barbara Stanny’s book Overcoming Underearning. It made it clear to me what's most important to me. The exercise goes like this:
- Put yourself in a good atmosphere (e.g. a café or, in my case, on a plane).
- Ask yourself: What would you do if you had only six months left to live?
- Write down anything and everything that comes to mind.
I was on my way to a two week vacation Portugal when I did this exercise. It was the perfect setting to feel open for possibilities and to feel like anything was possible.
3. An old dream that you can’t shake
Your intuition can speak to you in the form of an old dream that keeps prodding you. Something you’ve been wanting to do for a long time, but somehow never get around to doing. That’s what writing has been like for me.
I’ve been wanting to blog since my second daughter was born. That’s nine years ago now. Nine years of not writing. Yet the dream has stayed with me year after year after year.
Do you have a dream like that? A dream that you can’t shake. A dream that begs you to give it a try. That might be your real want, the want behind your Big Dream (the “million pounds”).
How do you make your real goal your real goal?
So, now, once you’ve become clear on what you really want. How do you shift from your good, reasonable goal to your real, actual goal? Let’s address the second part of the quote:
“Sometimes you find that what you really want is easier to get than what you thought your Big Dream was. Sometimes you find that you can start to LIVE what you really want now, today, rather than waiting”
In Donna Higton’s example, it might be easier to find a way to go and live on the Costa del Sol than it is to make a million pounds.
In my case, I have now given myself permission to write several times per week. My goal is to write or edit every day of the week. It doesn't always happen. Still I'm writing a lot more than when I didn't write at all.
Now over to you:
- How can you start living your dream today?
- How can you start to do it?
- How could you experience it now, this day or this week?
If it isn’t something that you can start doing today, such as writing, then:
- What can you do now to start working towards your real goal?
- What would be the first, small step?
What stops us from pursuing our real goal?
What is stopping us is often not that it’s difficult, or hard, or takes an inordinate amount of time. What is stopping us is that we are afraid.
When you’re not doing something that you want to do, then there is always some level of fear behind it. But often we're not even aware of this fear. It shows up as procrastination instead.
Please have compassion for yourself. Going after your real dream is scary. Being afraid is completely normal. And it's the real reason the person above didn't immediately plan to go Costa del Sol.
Accept your fear. Work through it. And take one small, not so scary step. Which one is it going to be?