How to know what you actually want

Have you ever got caught in the in-between of not knowing what you want but knowing that you don’t want what you have? It’s the perfect recipe for being totally stuck. And totally lost (the latter of which I wrote an entire book about).

When you say that you don’t know what you want, it’s in that moment that it’s VERY easy to get swayed by shiny, sparkling objects –Things that look good. Things that sound good. Things that you should want – But things that ultimately don’t feel right.

Follow Ladders on Flipboard!

Follow Ladders’ magazines on Flipboard covering Happiness, Productivity, Job Satisfaction, Neuroscience, and more!

They typically don’t feel right because you know, you know deep in your bones that while the “outcome” should be something that you care about (and maybe even do!), the “process” is not something that brings you any sort of energy or joy. This would be like if someone asked you to write a book that would be on every shelf… except that you completely don’t find any joy in writing. Or you’ve got a job offer for that BIG NAME company, a job you could do, but you absolutely hate what the day-to-day would entail.

I’m always in awe of people who can look past all that shines – like titles, like optics, like pay days, like prestige, like networks – to evaluate if they’d be happy in the moments. And then turn those opportunities down accordingly. Because sparkly outcomes do not…do NOT…equal fulfillment. The only thing that will fulfill you is being energized by the process, finding joy in the moments, and experiencing worthiness in the hard work.

So if you’re looking to understand what you want, look for what process is worth it to you. If you were to take the possibilities of accolades, or recognition, or pay out, or possibility for something great on the back end, what would still be worth doing because you’re so about the process of doing it? It doesn’t mean that you’ll love every minute of every day of that process, but you’ll love it more than you don’t.

That’s how you know. That’s how you can back into a decision. That’s how you can decide what to research. What to spend your time looking for. What to turn down. What to give your big yes to. You probably won’t get this right all of the time. You may learn the hard way that all which glitters isn’t gold, and the bottom might fall out on your big shiny goal…that’s ok. I’ve done it. Many times. I might even make that mistake again.


When the process of doing something is enough. Rather than having to achieve an intended outcome to make it enough….You’ll know you’ve found exactly what you want.

This article originally appeared on Maxie McCoy.

You might also enjoy…