What Do You Want?

Recently, I had dinner with a friend of mine who had just separated from her husband, and was preparing for life after divorce. We talked about what she would do with her life now, what direction it would take, what defines her. The essence of the whole conversation came down to one question:

What do you want?

Do you really know what you want? I’ll bet, you don’t know what you want, and that’s what has you running around in circles, chasing after the next big idea that could be IT. Until you find out that it’s not. When you think about it, a great proportion of life’s challenges could be solved by acting consistently with the things that we really really want.

Rather than trying to solve the deepest philosophical mysteries of life, let’s narrow this down to look at how this question relates to running our small business.

Do you really know? It’s so much simpler for those who have that burning passion, who know beyond any doubt what their purpose is, their life mission, commonly referred to as their “WHY”. Unfortunately, this kind of clarity is bestowed upon a select few. The rest of us have to wallow around in indecision, doubt and confusion for a while, some longer than others. But it is possible to find out what you really want. You don’t need to stay in that rut any longer.


The following is a process of self-reflection. The success of it will depend on how fully you engage with the process. If you hold back, it will be evident in the results you get – which is to say – not very good.

  1. Prepare yourself to talk, and to be vulnerable.
    As with most things that we should do, but don’t, a fair portion of the reason we don’t do it is fear. It can be a very confronting process, but this is private and personal thing. It is helpful to talk to a trusted someone, the process of talking about things out loud is incredibly therapeutic. If you’re not quite ready to reveal yourself to someone else just yet, talk to yourself, but do it out loud. You must hear your own voice.
  2. Make a list of the big emotional events in your life.
    Close your eyes, and see yourself, immerse yourself in that moment. Write down and talk out loud about what happened, how you felt, why, and what happened to make you feel that way. Dig deep and consider what was missing. If you were angry or upset, what were you wanting to feel that wasn’t there? Do this for about 3 or 4 big emotional or turning-point events in your life. You could also record your voice as you talk out loud about the experience, and then listen back to the recording and discover what else comes to your mind as you do so.
  3. Organise your thoughts and feelings.
    In this head-space of connecting with your inner self, write down the things that come to your mind about what you want your life to mean, what you want to be remembered for, what is important to you, what you aspire to. In this process, it’s important to not judge yourself at all by comparing what you want to what you have and where you are right now. This can be a painful thing for some, myself included, and feelings of regret and despair will be common. Don’t let them in, that won’t get you anywhere. Our past does not have any impact on our future other than what we allow.
  4. Prioritise your wants.
    Now it’s time to put things in perspective. Looking at your list, what stands out as being more important than others? Keep doing this comparison between the things you want, until you have a clear hierarchy of your most important wants. Now that you have this list, looking at it should give you feelings of empowerment and aspiration. Feel the swell of motivation grow inside you as you consider the way you will feel once you are working in alignment with your true values.

Now, you should be able to say what you want. It should be clearer, even if it needs more work. The process to achieve all the things you want may be a long-term project. But having a focus now, knowing it will give your life purpose and direction, will help you to get through the obstacles.

As small business owners, our business is usually an extension of who we are. Your business is probably already the physical representation of everything that’s important to you. So the process we’ve just done for our own wants and values would be just as relevant to our business as it is to our life.

This is where coaching can now make all the difference. To focus on what you want, and craft a plan to get there. Coaching is so different from business advisers and mentors, this isn’t someone telling you what to do, coaching is a lot of things – but in this instance, it’s having someone to be accountable to, helping you discover for yourself what you need to do – and then clearing out all the mental blocks so that you can just get in and do it.