How to Discover What You Really Want


The Rolling Stones famously sang “you can’t always get what you want”. However, for many of us, getting what we want is a secondary concern. First and foremost, we’re working on trying to figure out what it is that we want.

In a world where it’s difficult enough to figure out what type of coffee you’d like to order, figuring out what it is that you want can seem like a pretty tall order. What is it that you truly want to do? Where do you want to be? How do you want to live, and who do you want to do it with? Often, a lack of clarity on these points can affect someone’s life, causing them to feel confusion and discouragement in life, love, and the pursuit of happiness.

The good news is that there are simple and highly effective methods for figuring out what you really want. These methods are the perfect starting point to help you light the way for your future growth.

  1. Meditate. By cultivating a meditation practice, you will begin to still the chattering of the mind. After a while, this stillness will move past just meditation time, and will permeate your everyday life. This will allow you to be more mindful of what you are feeling, and boost your overall emotional intelligence. This can help you better define your wants and needs in life. Basically, meditating allows you to create space to discover these needs.
  2. Connect with nature. Spending time in nature can be an extremely effective method of reconnecting with yourself and giving yourself room to “listen” for your mind and body’s cues as to what it is craving. Whether your favorite version of connecting with nature is practicing yoga on the beach, taking a long run by a lake, or taking a hike on a beautiful nature path, do the activity that allows you to unplug from distractions.
  3. Ask yourself what you want, often. Have you ever heard the adage “ask and ye shall receive?”. It’s true here. To figure out what you want, you’ll need to ask yourself constantly what you want. Is that way too intimidating? You can start small: wake up and think, “would I like coffee or tea?”, or “would I like to wear orange or green today?”. Beginning to define what it is you want in small ways can help you build up to the bigger life questions like “what do I want in life?”. Take it slow, and enjoy the journey.
  4. Ask others what they want. Connecting with friends, family, and loved ones about their desires and wants in life can help you in recognizing your own. Moving past superficial topics and engaging in conversations about your true feelings and life desires is a powerful way of connecting with another human being. This is a beautiful experience which can help you feel less “lost” and create a sense of community. Furthermore, it can also reveal a lot about wants and desires. For instance, say a friend of yours shares that it has always been her dream to open a vegan restaurant. That might not spur a desire to own a food business inside of you, but it can help prompt you to think about what you could feel that kind of passion about.
  5. Use affirmations. Often, indecision and not knowing what we want is tied to fear of the unknown, and a feeling that we don’t “deserve” things. Using affirmations can be particularly powerful if this is the case for you. The Benefits of Positive Thinking website has a number of good ones, including “I deserve to be successful”, “I deserve to achieve my goals”, and so many more.
  6. Cultivate gratitude. Even if you feel uncertain about your direction in life and feel unclear about what you want, there’s plenty to be grateful for in your everyday life. Cultivating gratitude by either taking a few moments of gratitude in addition to or as part of your daily meditation, or keeping a gratitude journal listing things you are thankful for, can be a powerful tool in helping you gain clarity. In focusing on what you are grateful for, you might even discover that you already have quite a bit of what you want in your life.
  7. Look at the people who inspire you. Look carefully at the people who inspire you, whether they are members of your family, famous writers, or great artists. Read about them and their path. While you may not be pursuing the exact same dreams, chances are that there is something in their story that will inspire you and maybe even help you on your way to discovering what you want.
  8. Remember what you wanted when you were young. When you were young, you probably had a pretty good idea of what you wanted, be it candy at the grocery store, a whale cake for your birthday, to be an astronaut when you grew up. Revisit that time, when you didn’t have fear of the unknown (or rent to pay). Let yourself dream, and try to return to that child-like mindset. What about your childhood dreams could still ring true today?
  9. Give yourself room to grow. A rolling stone gathers no moss. Keep on learning, stay interested in learning new skills and developing new hobbies, and maintain an open heart. By allowing yourself the room to grow, you adopt an attitude of receptivity which can help light the way on your path to discovering what it is that you want. Furthermore, you never know when you might take up something new and inadvertently find your new calling!


In conclusion, it’s absolutely true that figuring out what you want is an intimidating prospect, and because of this, it can seem insurmountable to many people. But truthfully, when it comes down to it, it’s really a matter of mindfulness and taking the time to really listen to your thoughts, emotions, and true desires. By taking proactive steps to increase receptivity and to strengthen your mind and spirt, you’ll find that the path unfolds naturally in front of you. It was always there, it’s just a matter of quietly giving yourself time to illuminate your way.

What do you really want?

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