How to Know What We Really Want
Ever spend ages trying to make a choice, only to get even more confused the more you think about it? Don’t worry, you aren’t the only one. We all suffer from prolonged indecision from time to time. When the answer isn’t clear to a choice, we start off by analyzing the costs and benefits, only to end up more lost and undecided. Then, there may be other people in your life who make decisions almost instantaneously, appear sure of themselves and hardly ever regret their choice afterwards.
So what is it that helps be so sure of their decisions? The secret of this confidence and decisiveness comes from knowing what you truly want. Life blesses us with unique and individual talents, likes and dislikes. Our intuition, a.k.a. gut feeling, guides us by taking these internal factors as well as external circumstances into account when we have to make choices. The more we are in touch with our intuition, the more we understand about what we really want, and the more clear a decision will become. In order to seek answers that come from within and not from others, start off by considering the following:
Is it purely fantasy?
Understanding the difference between what appears attractive to you and what really attracts you can be enlightening. If you asked me what kind of life I wanted, it would go something like this: To live in a spacious two bed apartment that overlooks Central Park in NYC, cab downtown in a Chanel suit whilst fielding calls from clients who pay me several million a year to deal with high profile litigation cases. And to hang out at the cafe just downstairs with a group of close friends who happen to live nearby after work.
Hold on. How much of that resembled a scene from the TV series Friends, or Suits? We have fantasies that can include being international pop stars, billionaire inventors or famous housewives of reality TV, but these can be due to the external influences such as social media, parents and friends rather than what we genuinely want. People often chase after things that appear attractive, but discover afterwards that they don’t want it at all.
To figure this one out, see what you spend time doing on a daily basis, and how you feel about it. You can dream about being a killer attorney but if the thought of law school hasn’t crossed your mind, or you shudder at the thought of sitting in the library working through complicated legal jargon from morning to evening, then this may be fantasy rather than genuine desire.
What kind of fear am I feeling?
When you cannot decide on something because you feel scared, this can be very telling about what you really want. Human beings are born to be instinctive, and fear could be your intuition’s way of telling you that it is a bad idea to go ahead with a decision, especially if you don’t want it. However, there is another type of fear that can come out choosing, when we think something is too much for us to handle, despite wanting it. This usually represents a foreseeable challenge from the choice that we want, but we lack the confidence in ourselves to handle it.
How do you tell if it is a good or bad fear, and thus figure out if you really want something or not? Look at the way your body reacts as you think and talk about it. When you find positive body cues such as being eager to talk about it with friends, looking up or leaning forwards, this could indicate that you really want something despite being apprehensive about the risks and challenges involved.
On the other hand, should you find yourself stressed out whenever you project yourself into the choice, such as shoulders constricting, frowning or feeling downcast when talking about it, this could be your intuition warning you against it. By understanding which type of fear you are feeling, this can help you decide if the choice is something you really want to go after.
What are my friends like?
It is uncanny how quickly we can click with new friends in life, but still feel like strangers to other people that we’ve known for many years. Regardless of how long you’ve known someone, we are more drawn to some people than others. Revealing indicators of who these people are include the time you choose to spend with them, as well as those you genuinely respect. More often than not, they share common values with yourself, as this facilitates a mutual and deep understanding that helps you ‘click’ with each other. By observing the values and interests of those closest to you, this can shed light on your own character, likes and values as well.
Am I willing to accept the costs?
If you are unsure whether you truly want something or not, think about whether you would be willing to put up with the hardships that come along with the choice. Most people analyze choices in terms of the benefits, such as what they gain from choosing something over another. Whilst this method can work well in situations where one choice clearly offers much more objective benefits than others, such as choosing the job that pays the most money, it may not reflect what you truly and subjectively prefer.
One way to decide is to look at the costs of each decision instead. For example, many people would love to lose weight, but not many want it enough to put up with the hardships of feeling hungry at night, going without dessert and going to the gym even when tired or unmotivated. When you truly want something, you will be much more willing to endure the side discomforts and challenges that arise from the journey to the goal. It also helps to remember that ultimately, there are no wrong choices in life. As the saying goes, “if you don’t make the right decision, you can make the decision right.”
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