Most Important Question of the Year – What Do I Want?

What is it you want right now? What do you want from today? What do you want from this year? What do you want from your life? What is it you want?

I once got heavily criticised in a training session when I emphasised how important it is to recognise what we want and need – in order to feel properly motivated, creative, productive, and satisfied. The feedback went roughly as follows:

This is typical egotistical, self-centred modern shit. This is what I want, and what I want is the only thing I want. The fact is that every now and then we have to do things that we don’t want to do. If everyone only did the things they wanted, then nothing would ever get done.

This person happened to shed light on two delusions we hide inside that cause us so much suffering. They are the two sides of the same coin:

  1. If I want something, it shouldn’t feel tedious
  2. If something is tedious, I don’t want it.

Both are based on the same presumption that we only want nice things.

Delusion 1: If I Want Something, it Shouldn’t Feel Tedious

One of our greatest sources of suffering is that we forget what it was we wanted in the first place. Let’s say we’ve applied for a course because there’s a specific degree we really want. We are overjoyed when the letter finally arrives to say we’ve been accepted, and we rejoice for a day or two, perhaps even a week.

But when the course actually starts we forget exactly why it was we so wanted to be doing it. The classes are tiresome, we not only need to revise for exams, but put up with the professors. How could we forget we actually wanted this? Why are we grumbling and complaining? Why aren’t we whistling while we work?

It’s a mystery how we can completely forget the things that motivated us in the first place, or be willing to pay the price for the things we really want. We might want a beach body, but will complain about exercising and diet. We might want a family, but complain about partners and children. We might want our job, but complain about projects and customers.

Everything in life comes at a price and nothing is free. All achievements are reached through some degree of  struggle, discomfort, and sometimes even pain; but if there’s something you really want, you’re also prepared to pay the price – which brings us to our other delusion.

Delusion 2: If Something is Tedious, I Don’t Want it

The other delusion, closely related to the first, is more philosophical: if I don’t like something, this must mean I don’t want it. You might think “it would be nice to have a beach body, education, career, and a relationship, but I really don’t like exercising, eating well, studying, working, or dealing with arguments”.

However, as we all kno w, these things are inseparable from one another.

This is why there is no point adopting an attitude of not wanting things that are somehow difficult, uncomfortable, arduous, or challenging. Since they are part and parcel of the same thing, it is in your interest to want both the half you don’t like as well as the half you do. You need to tell yourself yes, I want [insert thing which until recently you told yourself you did not want to do, but is part and parcel of the thing you do actually want].

Why? Because someone is likely to be more motivated, satisfied, and creative when they actually want something. If we are simply putting up with “tedious” things, or doing “things that we don’t want to do”, we are forging our own chains . By reminding ourselves that we do really want something, then we don’t feel such a sense of obligation and things become much less repellent.

Sounds Like a Hoax

I know the paragraph above might sound like a case of easier said than done, but I’ve had first-hand experience of it. So can a person suddenly change their mind and decide they want to go jogging even if they don’t feel like it? Basically, yes.

But here’s the small print: you need to really want the thing you say you want.

If you are simply telling yourself you want something when in reality you don’t, then you will not be motivated when push comes to shove. You need to really want it. This is also important because we cannot want everything, …

Delusion 3: Wanting Everything

We might want and be able to have almost anything, but we can’t have everything . We cannot want everything, quite simply because we don’t have the capacity to turn everything into reality. We must instead make choices.

On long car journeys over the Christmas holidays I listened to the audiobook, The Unknown Kimi Raikkonen. Kimi, who has undeniably done a lot of the things he wanted to do in life, has still not had everything. He apparently hasn’t had the time to relax or simply be with his family. He has paid the price of being a Formula 1 driver, and that price was time he could have spent with friends and family.

For this reason the most important question of the year is what do you really and truly want?

Once you have an answer to this question, then take a little extra time to think about what it will cost you. When you claim to want something one hundred percent, it means you are also ready to face the challenges and difficulties that come with it. After that, every Monday, even one in November, will feel good, and not like it is tying you down.

TL;DR: What Do You Want is THE Most Important Question of the Year

  • There are three conditions to wanting something:
    • We lack the necessary resources to want everything.
    • When we want something, we must be prepared to pay the price.
    • We must also want the hardships that this price will entail.
  • For the same reasons we need to know exactly what it is we want, as
    • we lack the necessary resources to want everything,
    • we must be prepared to pay the price for the thing we want,
    • and we will not be able to pay this price unless we really want it.
  • Once we accept the hardships that this price entails, there is no need to suffer.
    • This might sound like a mind game and indeed it is – but it works.

Or what do you think?

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