“The first secret of getting what you want is knowing what you want” – Arthur D. Hlavaty
As the world becomes smaller and more interconnected, our choices of what to do with our time are rapidly expanding. It’s understandable that when someone asks “What do you want in life?” many of us have difficulty knowing how to answer. As David Allen put it,”you can do anything, just not everything.” So where to start?
First, set the goal posts.
These should be the guiding principles that you use to align your life path. They are a good check to make sure you are making progress. I’ve picked 5 key “goal posts” for myself:
- Learn: Life is not static. You either grow or decay. What do I know today that I didn’t know yesterday? What skills will I need to address a probable future? I want to keep expanding my view of the world.
- Create: I want to make a mark on the world by creating something new. Whether it lasts or not, creation is a powerful human drive.
- Build Strong Relationships: Humans are wired to be social beings. Study after study has found the importance of strong relationships in maintaining health and well being. Go for quality over quantity. And like everything else in life, it takes work to maintain them.
- Have Fun & Amazing Experiences: That’s the essence of life. Enjoy it.
- Contribute: While amazing experiences make life enjoyable, in the end, I believe we are part of something bigger than ourselves and contributing back is a key goal post for me. I think about how I am contributing and how I can do more. If I can combine it with one of the other 4 goal posts, even better.
This is my current list. If they don’t work for you, create your own – just make sure you have them.
Then think about what you want in each area. It can be long term or short term. Brainstorm as many possibilities as you can. If you are stuck, you can do an 80/20 analysis of your life. For example, what small subset of things (the 20%) is driving the majority (the 80%) of the happiness (or stress, income, etc) in your life right now? What is causing that? Why? What can you do differently that could improve it?
Once you have a list, go make it happen. Getting started is often the hardest part, so do something – do anything – to move towards your goals. Don’t wait. Do it now. If you do, you’ll find that it makes all the difference.
9th Piece of Advice: Be as specific as possible when defining what you want. Set goal posts for what you want to make sure you are covering all the key areas.