There are some questions that almost guarantee an interesting conversation. What’s your ideal life? is one of them.
Which is why I love asking this question.
I’ve noticed, though, in describing their ideal life, most respond with a laundry list of what they don’t want.
- I don’t want to be in debt.
- I don’t want to work so many hours.
- I don’t want to be overweight.
- I don’t want to fight with my spouse about money.
- I don’t want to feel overwhelmed.
- I don’t want to be impatient with the kids.
- I don’t want to be a people pleaser.
- I don’t want to be unhappy at work.
How would you respond if asked to describe your ideal life? While your particulars might be different, would it be a similar list of “don’t wants”?
Here’s the problem: All that moving away from and working against doesn’t take you where you truly want to go.
An important distinction
Think about moving away from some circumstance you don’t like versus moving toward something you desire. The energy is completely different. It’s an important distinction: Moving away from versus moving toward.
Away from is framed in what you don’t want. It’s a perpetual reinforcement of the condition you’re trying to change.
- I don’t want to be overweight. Overweight, overweight, overweight.
- I don’t want to be unhappy at work. Unhappy, unhappy, unhappy.
Knowing what you don’t want in your life—what you want to move away from—isn’t enough. It’s fine to start there, but don’t stop.
To boost clarity and energy, frame desired circumstances and states of being in terms of what you do want. In other words, what you’re moving toward.
I don’t want to be unhappy at work becomes I want to be engaged and feel valued at work.
Framing your ideal in terms of what you’re moving toward is a direction giver. Now you know what you are really seeking is engagement at work and to feel valued.
This clarity gives you a concrete place to start. Merely saying you don’t want to be unhappy at work keeps you stuck by failing to point you in any particular direction.
Start today moving toward your ideal life. Get clear about what it is you really want and frame your wants and desires that way. What are you moving toward?