How to Figure Out What You Want: Uncover Your True Desires

  • Time to read: 10 min.
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Hello, my friend! Have you ever found yourself feeling uncertain or confused about what you really want in life? Don’t worry, you’re not alone. It’s a common experience, yet rarely discussed openly.

How to figure out what you want—whether in careers, relationships, family or personal aspirations—isn’t always a straightforward journey. It’s often a winding path filled with self-discovery, introspection, and plenty of trial and error. But that’s what makes it so uniquely beautiful and rewarding.

Today, we’re embarking on a transformative journey together. In this article, “How to Figure Out What You Want: Uncover Your True Desires,” we’ll explore practical strategies, thought-provoking exercises, and insightful tips to help you uncover what truly matters to you. So buckle up, grab a notebook (trust me, you’ll want to jot down some notes!), and let’s dive in!

Understanding Yourself

Before we can determine what we want, we first need to understand who we are. It’s like trying to choose a destination without knowing your starting point—it just doesn’t work. By deepening our understanding of ourselves, we unlock crucial insights into our desires, motivations, and what truly brings us joy and fulfillment.

The Importance of Self-Reflection

Self-reflection is a powerful tool in our journey of self-discovery. It involves taking time to turn inward, to examine our thoughts, feelings, beliefs, and experiences. It’s an opportunity to pause, take stock, and listen to that inner voice that’s often drowned out by the noise of daily life.

Practical Exercises for Introspection

There are lots of different exercises you can do to help practice introspection. Here are some of the more common ones.

  • Journaling: This classic self-reflection exercise involves writing down your thoughts, feelings, and experiences, helping to bring clarity and perspective. Try prompt-based journaling, such as “I felt most alive when…” or “I’m happiest when I am…”
  • Meditation: Meditation encourages mindfulness, an awareness and acceptance of our thoughts and feelings in the present moment. It’s a quiet time to connect with ourselves on a deeper level.
  • Solitude: Spend some time alone, in a quiet, peaceful environment. Nature walks, quiet mornings, or even solo dates can provide valuable introspection opportunities.

Understanding yourself isn’t a one-time event; it’s an ongoing process, a journey that evolves with each passing day and experience. And it’s an incredibly important first step in figuring out what you really want.

Read more on how to feel alive again.

Exploring Your Interests

As you embark on this quest on how to figure out what you want, take a pit stop at the land of interests. Why, you ask? Well, our interests are like these fascinating clues that help us connect the dots towards our genuine desires. They are those things, topics, hobbies, or even fields that light up our eyes, make our hearts beat a little faster, and pique our curiosity.

And believe it or not, these interests carry tremendous significance when it comes to deciphering what we want. They act as our internal compass, guiding us towards the things we enjoy, those activities that make us lose track of time, and ultimately, to our passions. Essentially, they’re like those breadcrumbs that lead us to the enchanting forest of our dreams.

So, how do we tap into these interest-breadcrumbs? Let’s delve a bit deeper into this, shall we?

Start Brainstorming

The first step involves a bit of brainstorming—grab your notebook (remember I told you you’d need it?), find a cozy spot, and start jotting down everything that you’re drawn to. These could be things you currently enjoy or things you’ve always wanted to explore. It could be as broad as “nature” or as specific as “19th century French literature.” Let your thoughts flow freely, no filters, no judgments, just pure, unadulterated interests.

Look for Patterns

Once you’ve got a decent list, take a step back and try to spot patterns or themes. Maybe you’ve got a bunch of creative pursuits on your list, or perhaps topics related to human behavior keep popping up. These patterns can provide insight into the types of job activities or fields that could bring you joy and fulfillment.

Explore Your Interests

Now comes the fun part – exploring these interests! Pick a few that you’re particularly intrigued by and dive deeper. If “ancient history” is a recurring theme, for example, why not pick up a book on the subject or watch a documentary?

If you’ve listed “photography,” why not enroll in a short online course or go on a photo walk? The idea here is to not just identify your interests, but to actively engage with them. This exploration can help you figure out if these interests resonate with you on a deeper level and whether they might be part of what you truly want.

Remember, it’s okay for interests to change, to evolve, or to be replaced by new ones. The goal here is not to pin down a static list, but rather to engage in an ongoing process of exploration and discovery that leads you closer to understanding what you genuinely want.

Identifying Your Values

As we navigate our journey of self-discovery, a crucial checkpoint is recognizing and understanding our personal values first. These are the core principles that guide us in life, significantly influencing our decisions, behaviors, and satisfaction.

Our values are our personal North Star, guiding us through life’s vast sea. In this part of our journey, we’ll explore ways to uncover these guiding principles.

Why Values Matter

It’s crucial to understand the role of values in shaping our desires. They are the fundamental beliefs that dictate our actions and reactions. When our goals and desires align with these values, we experience a deep sense of fulfillment.

In contrast, if there’s a mismatch between what we want and our values, it often leads to inner turmoil and dissatisfaction. Hence, gaining clarity on our values is essential to decipher what we truly want.

Strategies to Discover Your Values

Now, the big question – how do we discover these values? Let’s look at some exercises that can help.

  • Reflect on Peak Experiences: Think about moments when you’ve felt the most joy, satisfaction, or pride. These peak experiences are usually times when you’re living in alignment with your values. Analyzing these experiences can shed light on what values are most significant to you.
  • Consider Your Role Models: People we admire often embody the values we hold dear. Reflect on who these individuals are for you and why you admire them. This introspection can help you identify your own core values.
  • Evaluate Your Discomfort: Our discomforts and frustrations often arise when our values are being violated. By understanding these discomforts, we can gain insights into our core values.

As we uncover our values, we take a significant step towards aligning our desires and lives with our true selves. With this understanding, we are now ready to move forward in our journey. Up next, we delve into setting personal goals that align with our newfound self-understanding.

Setting Personal Goals

The next stop on our journey is setting personal goals. This step is about taking all the self-knowledge we’ve accumulated and applying it to concrete, achievable objectives. These goals act as our roadmap, giving direction to our efforts and providing a clear path towards realizing our desires. Let’s delve into why goal setting is crucial and how to do it effectively.

The Power of Setting Goals

Goal setting is a powerful process for envisioning our desired future and motivating ourselves to turn this vision into reality. Goals provide focus, enabling us to align our efforts with our values and interests.

They create a sense of direction and progress, giving us a clear benchmark to measure our success. When we set and pursue personal goals that align with our values and interests, we move closer to living a life that genuinely reflects who we are and what we want.

Crafting Your Personal Goals

Crafting personal goals isn’t just about listing the things we want. It’s about creating a detailed, clear, and actionable roadmap towards our desired future. Here’s how we can approach this.

  • Reflect on Your Interests and Values: Begin by revisiting your interests and values. These provide the context in which you should set your goals. If a goal doesn’t align with your values or doesn’t involve an area you’re interested in, it may not be a goal worth pursuing.
  • Use the SMART Framework: SMART is an acronym that stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-Bound. Applying this framework can help us set goals that are clear, achievable, and aligned with our desires.
  • Create an Action Plan: Once you’ve defined your goals, create an action plan detailing the steps you need to take to achieve each goal. This plan provides clarity and direction, helping you stay on track and motivated.

Setting personal goals that reflect our values and interests is a vital step towards realizing our desires. It’s about aligning our everyday actions with the future we envision for ourselves. Having established our goals, we’re ready to take the next step: implementing strategies to stay motivated.

Staying Motivated

We’re now entering an essential phase of our journey – staying motivated. It’s one thing to set goals and quite another to maintain the momentum to achieve them. Motivation is the driving force that propels us forward, even in the face of obstacles. So, let’s explore why motivation matters and strategies to cultivate it.

Understanding Motivation

Motivation is the inner fire that keeps us moving towards our goals. It’s a mix of knowing what we want and having the drive to pursue it. Maintaining motivation is essential because, let’s be honest, the journey to realizing our desires isn’t always smooth sailing.

There will be challenges, setbacks, and moments of self-doubt. However, a robust motivational reservoir can help us navigate these hurdles and keep our eyes fixed on the prize.

Strategies to Fuel Your Motivation

Keeping our motivation levels high requires conscious effort and strategic approaches. Here are some strategies that can help:

  • Celebrate Small Wins: Each step towards your goal is a victory in itself. So, celebrate these small wins! This boosts your morale, renews your motivation, and makes the journey more enjoyable.
  • Visualize Your Goals: Picture yourself achieving your goal. Visualization has a powerful impact on our minds and can enhance our drive to turn that vision into reality.
  • Surround Yourself with Positivity: Your environment influences your mindset. Surround yourself with positive influences who support your goals and inspire you to push forward.
  • Use Motivation Boosters: Find what sparks your drive. It could be a motivational quote, a powerful book, or even a stirring movie. Use these boosters whenever your motivation needs a lift.

Staying motivated is a dynamic process that requires constant nurturing. But with the right strategies, you can keep your motivational flame burning brightly, propelling you towards your goals. We’re now ready to tackle the last part of our journey: being open to change and adjusting our course as needed.

Embracing Change and Course Correction

As we reach the final part of our journey, it’s essential to understand that it’s okay for our path to shift and change over time. After all, we’re dynamic beings, and it’s natural for our desires, interests, and values to evolve. Embracing change and being open to course correction is part of the process of figuring out what we want. Let’s delve deeper into this concept.

Why Embrace Change?

Change is a constant part of life. As we grow, learn, and experience new things, our perspectives and priorities may shift. These changes can lead us to new interests, passions, and goals. Embracing these changes rather than resisting them allows us to stay true to ourselves and continue moving towards a future that genuinely reflects who we are.

Navigating Course Corrections

Course corrections can seem daunting, but they’re simply adjustments on the journey towards our true desires. Here’s how we can handle them effectively:

  • Remain Open to New Experiences: New experiences bring fresh perspectives and can illuminate paths we hadn’t considered. So, embrace opportunities to learn, grow, and experience new things.
  • Regularly Reassess Your Goals: Regular check-ins with your goals allow you to see if they still align with your evolving interests and values. If they don’t, it’s a sign that a course correction may be needed.
  • Don’t Fear the Change: Change can be scary, but it’s also a sign of growth. Remember, it’s okay to let go of old goals if they no longer serve you and to pursue new ones that resonate with your current self. Fearing new things (neophobia) is something you can manage.
  • Seek Support if Needed: Navigating changes and course corrections can be challenging. Don’t hesitate to seek support from mentors, coaches, or supportive communities.

As we embrace change and adjust our course as needed, we continue to move closer to understanding and realizing our true desires. This flexibility and adaptability is an integral part of the journey to figuring out what we truly want.

Remember, the journey itself is as important as the destination, and every step you take brings you closer to understanding yourself better. So, keep exploring, growing, and evolving. Your desires are waiting for you to uncover them.

FAQ – How to Figure Out What You Want

What if I struggle to identify my values?

That’s perfectly okay. Identifying your values can take time and may involve a lot of introspection. If you’re having a tough time, consider seeking the help of a coach or mentor. Also, remember that it’s okay for your values to evolve over time.

I have many interests and passions. How can I prioritize my goals?

This is a common challenge. Prioritizing goals can depend on various factors like urgency, feasibility, and alignment with your core values. Consider using tools like the Eisenhower Box to categorize ideas and prioritize your goals.

What do I do if I lose motivation halfway through pursuing my goals?

Losing motivation is a common experience. It’s important to remember your ‘why’ – the reason you set your goal in the first place. Celebrate small victories, surround yourself with positive influences, and take breaks when needed. Sometimes, a lack of motivation could be a sign that the goal may not align with your current values or interests.

How often should I reassess my goals and make course corrections?

There’s no fixed timeline for this, as it can vary greatly depending on your individual journey. However, a helpful, general rule of thumb can be to reassess your goals every 3-6 months. Also, anytime you feel a significant shift in your values or interests, it’s worth taking a moment to reassess your goals.