Seems like an easy question, right? You might be surprised at how many people can’t answer this (apart from general answers like money, fame, and happiness). It’s especially hard to answer when you drill deeper. For example, what do you want in your relationship or your marriage? Your career? Your relationship with your parents or your children?
Why is it so hard to answer this question? Because we often live by others’ expectations, not our own.
From an early age, we are often told to behave a certain way because that’s what other people expect.
Stay within the lines.
Follow the rules.
Don’t talk back.
Because I said so.
We might be told we’re good at something by the only person who noticed, and so we pursue that thing for the rest of our lives. We might feel compelled to please our mothers, fathers, friends or spouses. We do what we’re told at work, following instructions instead of taking the initiative to define our own careers.
While there can be some satisfaction derived from pleasing others, often we are left frustrated, restless, and dissatisfied if we are not also pleasing ourselves. We struggle for meaning. We go through the motions, yearning for adventure and escape. This can lead us to destructive, attention-seeking behavior.
The Importance of Self-Reflection and Goal Setting
To get on the right path, it’s important to take the time to reflect. What DO you want? Is that really what you want, or what someone else wants? Does that scare you? What or who is standing in your way? Are they really in your way or are you in your own way?
If you don’t know what you want, there are ways to find out. Pursue your passions. Try something new. Get out of your comfort zone. Embrace failure and try again.
Be True to Yourself
Being true to yourself can be hard. It can involve risking your own pride and relationships. But it’s also one of the few risks worth taking. Talk to a counselor about your goals and expectations. Make your struggles clear to them. By doing this, you and your counselor can identify opportunities to fulfill your goals and get you closer to where you want to be.
Staying focused on what you want in life is a great way to filter out the noise, clutter, misdirection and drama that pops up. By developing confidence in yourself and communicating your goals to others, you can set boundaries, find the right support system and ultimately get what you want.