It’s one of the most basic questions in life.
It’s the question every salesperson is thinking as a potential customer enters the store.
It’s what every parent is asking when a child pulls on their leg.
It should be the question all of us are asking as we look at ourselves in the mirror.
What do you want?
We live in a fascinating time in which the question can actually be asked. Most people across a majority of the generations have never had the freedom we have to ask the question. They were too worried about survival, shelter, or food to ever consider the possibility of designing a life they enjoyed.
Many of us have that freedom.
We live in an unbelievable day where freedoms of choice abound. Our parents do not dictate whom we marry, we do. We aren’t forever stuck in one job or career. Resources are often available no matter one’s age to go back to school and learn new skills. We are not limited by geography or location. We have more opportunity than any generation before us.
Never has a group of people had the ability to pursue what they really desired as this generation. Yet rarely do individuals ask the important question:
What do you want?
It is a simple question, but it is not an easy question to answer. When pressed, most people throw out an answer which is neither specific nor accurate. (See: A Secret About Today Which Could Change Everything)
They claim they want money or fame or happiness, but they can’t tell you why they want money or fame, and they can’t describe what happiness means for them.
Money is not what you want. We all want some of the things money can do for us, but money alone should never be the goal.
Success is what you want, but it must be defined. It can be radically different things for different people. As long as we are chasing undefined success, we will never experience success, or even if we do, we won’t realize we have found it.
There are primarily three reasons people do not define what they want:
1. They are afraid to do the work.
Determining what we really want might be simple, but it is not easy. It takes soul-searching. It requires difficult decisions. It forces us to make a choice of what we truly value. Without the pressure of a deadline, decisions like this are easy to push until tomorrow and then the next week or next year. Decades can pass and people can realize they have never truly defined what they desire. If the question is ignored for long enough, we can lose any sense of even knowing what we want. Answering this question takes time, energy, and courage. Many people are not willing to make the sacrifices necessary to do the work. (See: Do the Work)
2. They are afraid to fail.
The scary thing about defining what you want is that you may not get it. Some people prefer to drift in ambiguity where they never have to admit they are failing rather to pursuing after a goal which might result in failure. (See: What Jerry Seinfeld Knows About Success)
3. They have never considered the question.
Most people never define what they want simply because they have never considered the question. They’ve never had a mentor ask them. They’ve never understood the opportunity they have to define their life and their goals. Ignorance of opportunity robs many people from living the life they desire.
It’s sad to consider how many people are not satisfied with life yet they aren’t asking the key questions which could lead to satisfaction. They are hopelessly drifting without any sense of control over their lives never realizing they have the ability to make life-changing choices.
In business, marriage, parenting, church, and our personal lives, one of the most important questions we can ask is
“What do I want?”
When we define our desire, we have a real chance of achieving it.
Kevin A. Thompson is Lead Pastor of Community Bible Church a multi-site church in Fort Smith, AR. He regularly writes at Kevinathompson.com and is the author of the book You Turn: For When the Nearest Exit is Behind You.