It is Good to Want!
So what is this,"Do What You Want" thing all about? Spoiled entitlement? Whining 21st Century brats? Stomp our feet, cross our arms, and hold our breath until the world says, “Oh all right, if you really want to be a beautiful dancer, get up on stage and we will clap and appreciate you?”
Admittedly, anyone watching current American television would worry about the next generation and a certain rise in over-inflated ego. Honey Boo Boo anyone? American Idol? That is NOT what this is about.
It's about knowing yourself well and working hard.
The path to finding true happiness lies in your ability to uncover your talents and design a life that capitalizes on them.
When you are doing what you are naturally designed to do, you are happy. You enjoy a life of purpose and meaning because you are contributing in a way that no one else can but you.
Asking yourself what you “want” is a strategy to help you identify your natural-born talents. In order to “do what you want” you need to “know what you want”. However, be careful. The term “want” has many different meanings.
What it is not:
Immediate gratification: “I want to eat cake for breakfast.”
These are things you desire in the moment.
Short-term ambition: “I want to lose 10 pounds.” These are things you work to accomplish but unrelated to your talents or abilities as a unique person.
Misdirected goal: “I want lots of money and a big house.” These are societal-based messages. They imply that if you had ___ you would be happy. It isn't true but it is easy to be tricked!
What it is:
Want: “I want to build engines, study the ocean, learn about human interaction, paint, write, grow an amazing garden, counsel people with problems, clean the environment, help children, help suffering animals, dig for ancient artifacts, etc.”
THESE are examples of things that people do because they feel “destined” or “designed” to do them. They LOVE doing it, and time slips away while they do it. They are engaged and involved completely and don't consider it work or effort (even though much work and effort is involved).
Often the thing you want becomes a hobby. We are so interested in doing it that we find ways to incorporate it into our “off-time”. This can be a wonderful and healthy way to soothe the frustration of spending the majority of your life doing that which you were not intended to do in the first place.
What if instead of working all day at becoming good at something that someone else was destined to do, we each worked on what we loved? Would there be less crime, less poverty, less disease? Would we discover new and better ways of doing things because people were personally invested and happy in their work?
While some are living a life doing what they love, most are plugging away at the “daily grind” hoping that in retirement they will finally get to explore what potential they have in the time left. Ouch.
The good news is, you can change your mind at any time. Whatever situation you are in (heavy mortgage, credit card debt, family responsibilities, poor health) living consistent with your unique design will only make things better. Not that it will be easy at first (undoing the life you built that doesn't quite fit takes courage) but it will lead to the healthier life you were intended to live. It is such a simple concept really. You wouldn't use a hammer to loosen a screw, right?
You have a design and a purpose. Learn what it is, embrace it, and use it correctly.
If you struggle to identify your natural talents (most of us do), you can begin by asking some basic questions. What we may have known as children (about our interests and passions) has often been clouded with society's vision of who we should be as “responsible, practical, realistic” citizens.
What are you drawn to?
What are you naturally good at?
When are you most at peace and happy?
Have you ever felt a leap in your chest or an intense interest when a particular subject comes up? Driving to work, a Jimmy Hendrix song comes on the radio and you can imagine the guitar strings as your fingers drum along on the steering wheel. You reminisce about that old guitar in the closet and wonder, what if? Or in social conversation someone mentions a new find in an archeological dig and you are all ears. You're hanging on each word and that's all you want to talk about for the rest of the night?
Take a pause and think carefully about what excites you. It could be cooking, reading, astronomy, architecture etc. Likely you have suppressed this interest to make a living, support a family, or other pressures.
Possibly you thought at one time in your life that you would follow that interest, but conventional wisdom convinced you it wasn't practical. Trusted adults or family members steered you in a safer direction. So, now you sell insurance, or manage the bookkeeping at a law firm, and you may have a fine and comfortable life. But, something tells you there is more.
We have loads of testimony of truly successful AND happy people who followed a dream and built a great career doing exactly what they love. Yet, many of us adopt a life less satisfactory and wonder if we could have done that too. Many believe that only a small percentage of people have a talent and the resources to build it into a career. These are the “lucky” ones.
My father was famous for saying this phrase:
“The harder I work, the luckier I get.”
The common thread for all these “lucky” people is that they worked really hard. They identified their passion/aptitude, then rolled up their sleeves and built a life around it. Unfortunately, these “lucky” ones, and the hard work they've done, are often dismissed and under-recognized by others. They're talked about as “special” or “gifted” and therefore predetermined to live the privileged life they enjoy. It is widely accepted that hard work = miserable life. Therefore, we naturally feel sorry for someone who is miserable (after all, they are working so hard!), while someone happily engaged in life and enjoying their work is clearly the lucky one.
We need to recognize that hard work and happiness coexist. Check out our articles: 'Who has done it and Who is doing it Now' for examples of happy but hard working “lucky” people. First steps to a happy life:
First steps to a happy life:
Learn who you are. What are your unique aptitudes and abilities and how can
you grow them?
Adopting the “Doing it Cuz You Want To” philosophy serves everyone!
Don't give up. Remember that verse in the song, Rose Garden by Tammy Wynette?
“I beg your pardon, I never promised you a rose garden, along with the sunshine,
there's gotta be a little rain sometimes.” This will be hard,
and then miserable, and then impossible. Until it is not. Remember, it is only
easy after you know how.
Feel the pain and do it anyway!
The questions to ask yourself are, “Am I worth it?” (You are) and, “Do I have what it takes?” (You do).
We will share stories of others who have done it, post our progress on our journey, Project 12 and provide resources to keep you motivated. Write to us and share your story. What worked for you? What struggles did you face? How can we support others to follow their dream?
Interested in more... Phil Cooke weighs in on this and it is worth a look. Check out: “Please - Stop Following Your Dreams!”