The other day, I sat down with a close friend who was pretty lost in life.
After having spent entirely too much time brainstorming why people feel “lost” myself, I asked my friend what he would rather be doing. In other words, what does he want to do.
“Uhhhh, not sure…. travel, or something?” he said.
“Alright… more specifically, what do you want to do?” I said.
“To be honest I have no idea.”
After I realized that the conversation wasn’t going anywhere, I realized that this is insanely common.
I talk to people all the time who want to change their life circumstances, but they have no idea what step to take. They complain, bitch and moan, but don’t even spend thirty seconds coming up with a baby step to take in some direction.
… And that’s because THEY DON’T KNOW WHAT THEY WANT.
In the manifesto, one of the subjects of an entire chapter was this: “It’s virtually impossible to get what you want unless you know what you want.”
In fact, someone just last week brought to my attention the fact that there’s an entire book written around this principle, called “It Works!”
Here’s what you need to know about this little magic formula.
If you’re lost in life, with many paths you can take, which one do you choose?
If you have no idea where each path leads, does it really matter?
But if you know the end point of each path – and it’s in a direction you want to be going, suddenly you know in which direction to take the first step.
The reason so many people have no clue which way to go – why they feel resistance in every direction – is because they haven’t chosen something specific they want to fix, and a specific outcome they want.
Example 1: My life sucks, I want it to change.
…Great, that was supremely vague, no wonder you feel insanely lost.
Let’s try that again.
Better Example: My job sucks, I want it to change.
Alright, now we’re getting somewhere.
But what specifically about your job do you need to change? The income? The people you work with? The hours? What? What in the hell do you want to change?
Specificity is not just key in business – it’s also key in life.
Example 2: I really need to improve my health.
Great, go overdose on a couple multivitamins and eat just salad for two years.
But seriously, what do you need to fix about your health? Do you have digestive problems? Sleep issues? Are you tired throughout the day? Do your knees hurt? Do you need to lose 50 pounds, or just 10 pounds?
Example 3: I want more adventure in my life.
Doesn’t everyone…. Well, do you want the motorcycle-driving kind of adventure? The bungee jumping rush? Do you want the “I’ve had sex with 75 people last week?” kind of rush? Do you want the travel buzz? Do you want the calm thrill of a scuba dive? Do you just want more interesting friends? Do you want more stories? Do you want work you love?
All of these people are very unlikely to get what they want, because the first “baby step” is impossible to figure out based on their wants.
“I really need to improve my health.” — Where’s the next baby step? What are you supposed to spend the next 5 minutes doing? No clue. Let’s google shit instead.
“I want a more adventurous life.” — So are you figuring out that you love travel, and then booking that flight, or what?
“My life sucks” — WHAT IS YOUR NEXT STEP TO FIX IT?
Impossible to figure out, right?
[Not] so easy a caveman could do it
I won’t lie and say it’s easy to figure out what you want. It’s not. But it’s incredibly hard to get what you want when you have no fuckin’ clue what that is, and what the next step is. And that’s the kicker. If you don’t specifically know what needs fixing, how can you create a step-by-step plan to fix it?
Sit down for 5 minutes and think – is what I think needs fixing specific enough that I can write down my first baby step, and then take it?
If it’s not, like “my life sucks,” then you haven’t really figured out what needs fixing.
So what’s the next baby step?
If you can’t tell yourself right now, in 3 seconds, what the next baby step is, you haven’t really clarified what needs changing or you haven’t gotten specific and focused enough.
Next time you’re screaming “what do I do? which way do I go? what path do I take?!” remember: It’s almost impossible to get where you want in life if you have no idea what you want. If you don’t know what path to take, then it doesn’t matter right? They all will make you equally happy or unhappy.
So what do you want? And which way are you going? What baby step can you take, right now? If your answer is “I don’t know,” then it’s obvious why you’re not getting where you want, and what.
Images: sun, woods, tree