If you don’t know what you want…
- The menu will tell you.
- Your boss will tell you.
- The items on sale will tell you.
- Your spouse will tell you.
- The best seller list will tell you.
- Your iPhone apps will notify you.
- The news media will tell you.
- A consultant will tell you.
- The authorities will tell you.
- The next ad will tell you.
- A televangelist will tell you, on behalf of God.
- Your financial advisor will tell you.
- Amazon and Netflix will recommend it to you.
- Your friends will tell you.
- The point-of-purchase signs will tell you.
The problem is none of these sources should know you as well as you know yourself. Therefore, they won’t tell you what YOU want. Once you realize this, you also can realize what they WILL tell you.
We’re all susceptible to the power of suggestion. This isn’t a big deal when you’re deciding between a cobb salad or grilled salmon. It is monumental when you’re deciding on a major purchase, a career path or a lifestyle change.
It’s one thing to say, “I know what I want. How can you help me?” It’s another thing to be a blank slate for anyone else to write on. I’m not talking about being closed minded. I’m talking about knowing yourself. Then you can be intentional about discovering something new.
Sometimes we avoid knowing ourselves. It could be decision fatigue or intellectual laziness. We may have placed our trust wholly on another person or institution. It’s likely related to fear. Fear that if we know what we want, we’ll ultimately be disappointed when we don’t get it. Fear that we will get it and it won’t fulfill our needs. Fear that we’ll make the wrong choices.
But the tradeoff for ignoring what we want is huge. We surrender our agency. We abdicate the throne of our own lives and let the list above take turns in the seat. This is a dereliction of duty. Not just to ourselves, but to others who need us to bring our whole selves to our work, our homes and our communities.
So, what do you want? Maybe to know that, you should start by wanting to know thyself.