On a daily basis, people are assaulted by a multitude of social expectations about how they should be and what they should have – expectations involving what color hair to have, how much to weigh, what kind of car to drive, what kind of career to have, and how big of a house to own, to name a few. These surrogate expectations weave their way into one’s psyche and can make themselves feel like one’s own true desires, which can then subtly influence one’s direction and efforts in life in order to meet these expectations. Yet oftentimes, people find themselves unhappy or disillusioned upon eventually meeting these expectations. They are surprised to find that once they have all of the things that they think they want, they still feel lacking or unsatisfied. In finding true happiness, it’s critical that people stay true to themselves and their own personal desires and objectives in life.
Know the Reasons Why You Want What You Want
The true motivator in what people desire isn’t the thing or status itself, but rather the reason why they want it. Does a college student just want a degree so that they can have a degree? No. A college student typically wants a degree for all the “why” reasons behind it – reasons like having a better job, making more money, etc. Similarly, ask a single mother raising children on her own if she’d like a brand new car. The answer would likely be “yes”, but not just in order to have a new car. More likely, the reasons behind it would include something like having more reliable transportation for her to be able to get to and from work so that she can continue to provide for her children.
Equally important is gaining an understanding of your desires that are truly your desires, not what you are expected to pursue or what you are told will make you happy. Understanding this may require some quiet time alone in reflection, meditation, or talking with an open-minded, trusted friend.
Formulate Realistic and Incremental Hows
Once the genuine “whys” are clear for what you desire, build a plan to get there with realistic, achievable, and incremental milestones. Most people don’t fail to realize their true desires in life because of a lack of conviction or motivation, rather from a lack of planning the incremental and realistic steps necessary to get there. The Chinese Philosopher Lao-Tzu wrote, “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” This holds true still today, especially in achieving one’s desires.
Intuition is a Powerful Friend
Once you’ve identified your true desires and have an incremental plan in progress on how to realize them, check in with your intuition on occasion to ensure that you’re still on the genuine path. There are a lot of influences in daily life that can nudge you from your true path.