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Last week I started reading I Could Do Anything If I Only Knew What It Was: How to Discover What You Really Want and How to Get It and was challenged by the first chapter. Usually I fly through books. I don’t have a great memory, but I love flying through books for ideas and thoughts. This book sucked me in with a concept at the beginning I had to think through and process for quite a while.
I loved the title of the book and felt I could relate but the author started out the book by saying ‘You do know what you want.’ It was only page 3. She went on to say we all do know what we want but don’t always realize it because we have too many options or something inside us is stopping us from knowing. Basically she was calling those of us who are indecisive out and saying we are hiding and sabotaging ourselves. What a way to start the first few pages. I was looking for more understanding and less blame 🙂
Chapter 1 was what really got me thinking. She said if you don’t know what you want to do with your life answer the question of what you think you ‘should’ be doing with your life.
She had a few exercises she recommended. First was to write out the names of the important people in your life (growing up especially). Once you have the list write out the first thing that comes to mind when you think of what they wanted from you/or wanted you to be.
I was reading where I didn’t have access to paper but this idea was eye opening to me. I think most people, especially children, are born to please and every parent or influence in your life, though often unintentionally, expects you to be, act, do, or become something different.
On this site and in my writing I talk a lot about questioning society and what it tries to tell us. Especially question advertising… because they are just trying to mess with your head for money. Materialism, beauty or value, and happiness are all ways we should question societies definitions and figure out what we think.
But this is much closer to home. This is looking through childhood and taking lots of messages and wanting to please, often way more than trying to learn what we want. We are often taught what we should want. Wanting isn’t something to be taught. It is perfectly fine to want to eat a whole batch of cookies. It is not okay to eat a whole batch of cookies, but did we learn it was okay to want it? Did we learn what we wanted? If we went through early life unlearning our own opinion it makes a lot of sense why we can’t figure out what we think or want now.
So taking that list of all the things those people thought you should be how many of them line up? There is a really good chance a bunch of them conflict with each other. How can you be a doctor and a stay at home parent for 10 kids? … not very easily. How can you never leave your home town but travel the world? Be a successful business person but never draw attention to yourself?
Her second assignment was to draw a picture or use magazine cutouts to create the ‘ideal you’. One example in the book said:
Anita cut out the picture of a designer-dressed professional, added a cloistered nun’s hooded face, and put the whole thing against the background of an African village. page 19
There is no way to make it all work but too often some of these ‘shoulds’ sabotage us and leave us in confusion because, by themselves or added with our own priorities, they are opposites and don’t work together. Obviously this leaves us stuck, confused, and restless.
The book goes on to talk about how to address several of the barriers we have created and learn what we really want to do. I enjoyed it and recommend it. There was a lot of the book I could relate too very strongly.
Going through this hit me and made me try to process several questions:
- Are my values truly my values or are they adopted to please?
- Do I feel restless pursuing what I am because I feel I am failing at some of these success ideas?
- Am I encouraging my kids and giving them permission to develop their own thinking? (making sure they know it is good to know they want a whole batch of cookies but that it is never good in life to eat them)
- Are some of my goals, even those I have created for myself, conflicting?
Sorry, lots of my ramblings and attempts at deep thinking today. It hits me in a sore spot asking ‘do I really know myself?‘ Making priority to take care of myself is good and clear to me, but really knowing and understanding myself… I sure think I should, did, could… something 🙂
So if you aren’t one of those people who knew in Grade 2 what they were put on this earth to do and have never looked back, if you are like most of the rest of us and think you should be able to work in and pursue your passions but are unclear on exactly what they are, check out this book I Could Do Anything If I Only Knew What It Was: How to Discover What You Really Want and How to Get It