Have you ever tried to get from where you are to where you want to be without taking any steps or action towards that goal? It’s like trying to cross the street without picking your feet up and putting one in front of the other. It just doesn’t work.
People try all kinds of ways of getting what they want without taking the steps. They try things like complaining, hoping, wishing, dreaming, researching and planning. But, instead of getting anywhere, they find themselves feeling stuck, frustrated, confused, overwhelmed, depressed, disillusioned and hopeless. They might find themselves coming up with all kinds of reasons they can’t have what they want and they might even defend all those reasons if someone tries to show them a greater possibility.
It’s pretty safe to say, we’ve all been that person at one point or another. It’s not a fun place to be and it feels real. We are convinced we’re out of options and there’s just no way to have what we want.
In this article, I want to address knowing what your path is and how to take the steps to get you there, wherever that is.
1. How To Know What You Want
2. Things to Avoid Along the Way
3. How to Get There
How Do You Know What You Want?
My dad would say, “That’s a great question”. So, how do you know?
The short answer is, you may not know.
You may have lived so many years doing the “right thing”, the expected, logical, responsible thing that you have no idea what You actually want.
I remember waking up in my 20’s not knowing what I thought about certain things, not having my own opinions and especially not having my own preferences. It was a strange sensation to realize this and I spent many years consciously cultivating my own awareness. Looking back it’s easy to see what I wanted, what lit me up and what I would do differently but at the time I was in a total fog. It’s not that anyone intentionally tried to suppress my nature. I think it’s that our culture relies on a level of organized conformity as a practical measure to keep things running smoothly.
We are taught to line up, sit quiet, learn this now, don’t do that, do it this way and our natural inclination toward movement, expression and following our own innate wisdom and insight is overlooked. As adults, these natural inborn resources have shrunk and hidden themselves away. We see the results as stress, depression and anxiety. That what happens when we go against the pull of our true calling and sense of purpose which would light us up and guide us. Instead however, we have mass depression, mental health disorders, and a whole bunch of unhappy people looking for solutions everywhere but the one place they can be found…within themselves.
When we live in harmony with our passion, truth and purpose, we experience far less depression, confusion and overwhelm. Many call this the “flow state” because in it we learn to navigate the obstacles of life in a more joyful and harmonious way. We might get bumped around a bit, but like a boat moving down stream in the river, a set of rapids becomes an exciting adventure rather than a terrifying death trap.
So how do you know what you want?
1. Start by letting it be ok that you don’t know.
As long as you are frustrated and discourage by not knowing, you will keep yourself stuck in not knowing. It’s ok not to know things because it naturally loosens things up.
2. Get curious…about everything.
Curiosity is a secret sauce to discovery. When you’re not upset by not knowing, the doors to curiosity start to open. You can start to ask questions about what you like, what you want, what would be fun, rewarding and meaningful.
3. Pay attention and acknowledge what you do know.
You are already started on the path to having what you want. I don’t think I’ve had a single client that gave themself enough credit for what they are already doing well. My advice to them is “write it down”. Every time you know something you like, enjoy or want, write it down. You’ll be amazed by how much information you already have and this will help you know how to move forward.
What are you curious about? What have you always wanted to try? Make a list, pin it up, throw a dart and try something. Experimentation will give you all kinds of information about what works and doesn’t work for you. Make this a regular part of life.
5. Enjoy the process.
There’s no need to make your experiments significant. You’re just collecting experiences and maybe even skills or knowledge. As a kid you would have tried all kinds of things just to see what would happen. If it worked you’d be delighted and maybe push the experiment to the next level. If it didn’t work, you’d try something else. You might even laugh about it or tell the story about your grand failure.
As you continue to get curious, experiment and acknowledge, you will start to see what you really enjoy, what you’re good at and what you would like to try next. What you want will become more and more obvious.
Things To Avoid:
1. Stop trying to get it right.
When you are starting out on your journey of discovery, your only objective is to learn and have fun. There is nothing else, no right and no wrong. You either enjoy it or you don’t, and that alone is learning. Now you can go back to getting curious about what else you’d like to experiment with. Maybe you want to be more creative but painting isn’t your thing. That’s good to know. Now you can try pottery or stained glass.
I've had this quote front of mind for the last 20+ years and it still comforts me. It reminds me that my path is unique and beautiful in it's own right.
"Let the beauty you love be what you do. There are a hundred ways to kneel and kiss the ground." Rumi
2. Don’t compare yourself to others.
We all know this…and we all still do it. It’s natural to look at what other people are doing that brings them so much joy and think that we have to do what they do, the way they do it to have the results they have. If only that were the case. It is useful to find out more about how they discovered this for themselves. Getting more details often delivers great insight into how we might apply some principles to our own journey. We can also ask for suggestions, connections, resources etc. that could help us on our way, but trying to replicate or copy someone else’s success is not the way forward.
“If you can see your path laid out in front of you step by step, you know it's not your path. Your own path you make with every step you take. That's why it's your path.”
― Joseph Campbell
3. Try not to get discouraged.
Finding your path can seem like a tough slog. Sometimes you feel like you’ve got so much riding on it that if you don’t see results soon all will be lost. You just can’t rush these things. It takes time, trial and error, experimenting, failing and trying something else. The one thing that will speed the process up immensely is finding a way to enjoy every step of the process. Think of the joy a child has learning to walk. When they stumble they plop down with a big grin on their face and get up and try again. They have no concept of not being able to succeed. It never occurs to them. They know they will walk, they know they’re almost there…and so do we. We know if they keep doing what they’re doing, they will be walking and making messes all over the place.
4. Don’t put it off.
I asked a potential client what other excuses he could come up with that would allow him to delay having the changes he would like in his life. His response was equally humorous as it was revealing. He would say anything, including “I have to wash my hair that day” to get out of taking responsibility and getting uncomfortable. That’s where he is right now and I know that one day he will step forward and do what it takes. How long he’ll allow himself to suffer is up to him.
How to Get Where You Want to Go:
Once you have an idea of what you want, it’s go time. I believe that what we want is also what wants to be created through us. I believe that projects, businesses, art and ideas need an outlet, a willing participant to bring them to life. The creative aspect of the universe is actively partnering with us to bring beauty into the world. That’s why we use terms like “inspiration” to describe the process of having a great idea ignite the creative energy within us. Inspiration is waiting for you to be open, receptive and ready to act. You can’t do this if you are second guessing, delaying, feeling sorry for yourself or focussed on getting it right.
When inspiration comes you need to be ready to:
1. Take a step.
Not take “the right” step. Just “a” step. Sometimes we call this “the next best step”. We’re still experimenting, that continues to be part of the process. We’re also still being curious.
Taking the next best step lets the universe know you’re ready to partner with it and bring this idea to life.
2. Ask questions.
Start sharing parts of your idea with people who may be able to help. Find out everything you can about how to get things done. Read books, research online, watch videos, listen to podcasts, interview experts, attend classes. You’ll start to discover that there are lots of resources to help you on your way and you may even find people willing to help you out.
3. Look for reasons it can work.
There is always a way. If you have an idea or a calling, there is a way for you to get there. You don’t need to know how. This is where faith in the process comes in. All you need to know is that there is a way and you will find it.
4. Say YES to what feels right, NO to what doesn’t feel right.
Life isn’t linear. It’s not clean, tidy and organized. Life is messy, chaotic and full of wild cards. You can’t possibly know what is going to work before you try it. The most random, unrelated things often lead us to where we want to go. I love that about life! It’s full of surprises and the more you trust the flow and just try stuff, the more doors that will open and the more opportunities that will present themselves.
This doesn’t meant that everything about trying new things is going to be fun but you will learn and gain valuable experience along the way. Then you can try something else.
5. Take risks.
This can’t be avoided. There is no safe zone in creating a life you love living. Faith in the process is an element of creation. It’s like trying to get bread to rise without yeast…tricky. You can start with small risks and work your way up as you build your confidence. My guess is you will be pleasantly surprised at the results.
6. Go all in.
As long as there’s a backdoor you won’t commit. You doing what you love has got to be a priority. You need to know that nothing will stop you. You will do whatever it takes to live a joyful life of meaning and purpose. This is your gift to yourself and the world.
5. Get grateful to your bones.
I know it sounds cliché but if there’s one thing that will shift your life more than anything, it’s gratitude. Be grateful for everything that has come before, the good and the bad. Be grateful for everything in your life right now, good and bad. Be grateful for everything to come. If you do nothing else, do this…daily.
You living a life you love is important not only to you but to the people you love, your community and the world.
“Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.”
- Howard Thruman
Ask “What am I being called to create?”
This one question is so often overlooked. We get hung up on the To Do list of whatever it is we’re trying to accomplish. We have goals, targets, tracking and all kinds of tasks to do to create a vision of what we think is going to make us happy, successful, wealthy, liked, fit and any other thing we strive for.
What we miss is the secret sauce. It’s what has called us to be here in the first place. It’s what lights the fire and makes everything worthwhile. It’s the connection to all of life that wants to move through us, create through us and bring beauty into this world. This is why your path isn’t the same as anyone else’s path. This is why research and planning will only take you so far.
Don’t worry if you don’t have a master plan or even an idea of what you want. That will come with curiosity and experimentation. Enjoy the process, don’t give up, celebrate every little success and be grateful for all of life. Your life is a place for miracles and you are on the road to recognizing that as your reality.
I know this journey might seem scary at times and you may not have the support you feel you need to take the next steps. If that’s the case, please don’t hesitate to reach out.
Darlene Tindall is a Transformational Life Coach, multi modality healer and teacher sewing the seeds of possibility far and wide. She is available in person or online for coaching, classes, private facilitation, energy work or yoga.