Know What You Want

I was talking to my Mother and Father on the phone yesterday, and the topic of conversation came around to some of the things that I was talking about in my last post. In it, I talked about things about myself I had recently learned, and I mentioned that I wished I’d figured out some of that stuff earlier.

I often find when I learn something new, the initial feeling can be a double edged sword. I find this particularly true with software I use every day. Sometimes someone shows me a new way of doing something that saves a lot of time. I am happy to learn the new technique, but can’t help but to think of the wasted years of having done it the old way.

In conversation with my parents, we started talking about things we’ve learned that might have made a difference earlier in our lives. We also talked about risks we’d taken earlier that in hindsight turned out for the best, even if we were doubtful at the moment of the decision. My Father had said for the most part he wouldn’t have changed much. I was a little skeptical, but he attributed it to having taken some time to figure out what he wanted early on in his life. Perhaps he’s on to something.

“Know what you want,” he said. If you know what you want, you can make decisions accordingly. If you don’t know what you want, or if your priorities aren’t straight, you’ll find yourself adrift, taking the past of least resistance, and leading a life that may or may not be satisfying.

That resonated with me. When I think about times that have been hardest in my life it’s when I have been unsure of my motivations for doing what I am doing. One of the worst feelings I experience is when I feel a false victory. This is a hard one to identify because it usually coincides with the elation of having accomplished a goal, but it’s there in the background, asking the question, “is this what you really wanted?”

I have felt this when I’ve had success in my business, like when I have landed a job that will make me a bunch of money, but at the end of it I realize I have been ignoring friends and family, and I have a hard time getting interested in the next project. To a lesser extent, I feel it when I have played solitaire on my cel phone until I’ve won. I get to watch the little cards dance around, but I then realize that I’m dog-tired and have to get up in the morning in a less than satisfactory number of hours.

So, this morning, when I went to my little cafe to sit and have a coffee and make a list for the day, I also wrote out some of the big things in life I want. I figure if I make them public, they will be more real, so here they are. I’ll likely edit them as time goes on, and they are listed in no order other than that that I came up with them.

  1. I want my family and personal relationships to be the priority in my life.
  2. I want kids.
  3. I want to feel financially secure, and I want a financial plan that spans my life expectancy.
  4. I want to bang my own nails into my own walls, and I want to have a stake in the space I live in.
  5. I want to set aside a period of time every year, measured in weeks, to spend alone with my nuclear family.
  6. I want to maintain a real, genuine, respectful and adult relationship with each of my parents.
  7. I want to see my extended family at least once or twice a year, and I want to be in close enough contact with them that I’d never feel odd giving them a phone call.
  8. I want a job where I can feel supported financially and valued for my work.
  9. I want to work aside a group of individuals with whom I find comfort in familiarity.
  10. I want to feel enough challenge in my work to stay passionate, but I do not want so much that I am overwhelmed, or feel I have to sacrifice my family and personal relationships.
  11. I want to continue to know myself better, to grow and to change throughout my life.
  12. I want to remain open minded. I want to accept the views and lifestyles of the people around me without judgement. I want to value people based on their virtues, and not their politics.

3 thoughts on “Know What You Want

  1. Terrific post Mike.  Gina and I were just talking about what we want from life.  I like the idea of writing goals out like you have.  You’re an inspiring brother.

  2. Nice one, Mike. It’s good to read your words. They resonate with a lot of the thoughts clattering around in my head. Time really is so precious. Since having Aiden this has become even more poignant. Days disappear. Years fly by (he’s already 1!). And the question of ‘what am i doing all this runing about for’ rarely gets proper attention. Thanks for your sanity & your inspiration, Mike. I hope you get all that you’re aiming for. I think I’ll go scribble a list of my own.

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