07 Jan Tell Me What You Want
Feeling tired, depleted, drained? Do those words describe your life? There are numerous reasons why you feel this way as you try to convince yourself by saying, “Oh, this is just a busy time at work but it should slow down next month” or “I just can’t fall asleep. If I could get a good night’s sleep, that would fix it.”
But underneath it all, a still voice is whispering something that may need your attention. Sometimes feeling drained comes from not living your life where your highest purpose and dreams are alive. We often leave our full self aside to live a life of “shoulds”. But as the saying goes – Don’t “should” all over your life.
“It is hard and draining to pretend to be happy with where life is for you when you know there has to be something more and your current activities do not align with what you truly want out of life.“
Here is a quick exercise to tease out what it is that you may really want in your life. So put on your imagination cap and grab a blank piece of paper. The larger the piece of paper the better, IMHO.
On that paper, write down everything you actually and truly want in life. Don’t edit yourself as there are no restrictions or boundaries for what you put down. It is important to use a pen and paper for this work. Fill the page in with your dreams and wishes.
When the page is full, see if you can categorize those items into 4 or 5 areas. What patterns and similarities do you notice? Is your current life allowing you to have the life you want? Or is it a life that is preventing it? For example, let’s imagine your list looked like the following list:
- Good relationship with partner
- Ensure kids are connected to me (healthy and happy)
- Lunch with girlfriends
- Time for family dinners
- Find a partner in life: date more
- Join a fitness club (& go workout)
- Take walks with my bff
The common denominator of the above items is around good and healthy relationships so Relationships may be an area of focus that you want to have in life. But if you are working 60-hour work-weeks, does your life allow for you to do invest the time and support to those relationships?
The hard reality is that you can’t really create the life you desire unless you get clarity on what it is you want! Back in my 2016 sabbatical, I did this exercise and it provided immense clarity by breaking down into the following four categories:
- Good Work
At the time, I realized that my current way of living/working was not allowing me to find the time for these good things. When I returned to work, I intentionally made decisions about my time and energy based on whether or not it helped or hindered my ability to have space for those four essentials. What I realized is that my work did not provide that opportunity, so I knew it was time for me to find another path. It would have been easy to stay – a 6 figure income, on the leadership track, respected in my field. This was a success in many people’s minds but for me, it handcuffed me and prevented me from living the life I needed to live.
I still use the four categories as the litmus test for decisions in my life. Each year I check-in to see if anything has changed because it’s also important to reflect on your list occasionally because our life priorities should shift and change as we do.
Your priorities in your 30’s should be different than your 20’s or your 50’s. What are yours today?