Knowing What You Want

Is knowing what you want next in your life easy for you?


If not, read on…


“I’ll do it if you do it,” I said.

A dear friend and I had just challenged each other to sit down and write a list of “what I want next in my life.” (Known more commonly as a list of goals.) We had a week to accomplish it.

When the deadline arrived, both of us had not much on our lists, and were feeling pretty crappy about our ability to know what we want.


“I’m terrible at having a plan,” my friend said.

In her mind, she compared herself to others with a grand plan, a sense of clear direction, and came out feeling like a failure. Here’s my respnse: For one thing, you can never know how that “directed” person came to know what she wanted, and in addition…

I say knowing what you want doesn’t happen the same way for everybody.

How you know depends on your design.

My friend and I talked further, and here’s what we learned…

How she actually learns what she wants next:


Step One: She feels dissatisfied—perhaps very dissatisfied, but possibly just uncomfortable, edgy, moody, or cranky. She doesn’t know what she wants. She just knows what she has isn’t working 100% of the time. There’s something more…

Step Two: She still doesn’t know what she wants, but she starts to get clues, or descriptors about what she wants: “I want an adventure. I want it to be a challenge. I want it to be mine.”


At this point she has delivered the message of what she wants to her subconscious mind, and to the Universe. Now the Universe can start offering up options.


Step Three: Opportunities start to come up. They might come in a phone call from a friend, in a letter, in a movie, or a book you are reading. One she remembered came in the form of a tiny ad in the back of a magazine.

Step Four: Recognition. She feels a burst of delight (usually mixed with terror) in response to an opportunity. Now she knows what she wants!

Before you chide yourself for your lack of vision, or your inability to choose a goal, remember my friend and her real process for knowing what she wants. It doesn’t come clearly, or all at once.

It comes piecemeal.

Image from Writing: Journey to Life Blogspot (click image for more)

The process is a bit like walking backward in the dark.

I think that may be true for many of us. It certainly rings true for me.

Coach’s Challenge:

Make your own list of “what I want next in my life.” As you attempt it, you’ll learn something about your own process for knowing what you want. Approach it like a puzzle—with curiosity. How do you know what you want?

Leave a comment below—I’d love to hear from you!

Lindy MacLaine of is a Life Purpose Coach whose messages empower and inspire those in the second bloom of life to reclaim their dreams, reignite their passions and rekindle their joy.

She is the author of the fantasy adventure series Piper Pan and Her Merry Band, for those ages 9-109 who loved the Neverland and who long for adventures that matter.