Know What You Want? Or Do You?


Sounds easy, right? Of course, you know what you want. Ask any 4-year old what they want for Christmas, and you will get a pretty comprehensive list. The same goes for adults—a new car, a bigger house, a better paying job to afford said car and home, and so on.

While identifying a material wish list may come quickly, what about more in-depth questions, such as “what do you want to accomplish in the coming year?”, “what direction do you want your career to take?”, alternatively, “what brings you significance and meaning in your life?

These questions often take a little more thought and require motivation and vision.

So where do you find this motivation? Business philosopher and motivational speaker Jim Rohn once said, “When you know what you want, and you want it bad enough, you will find a way to get it.” This is true on a small and large scale. What do you want at the end of this workday? What do you want to see in your life five years from now?

Maybe you have a pretty clear answer to these questions, and know what you want, but are unsure how to proceed. Alternatively, perhaps you will still be searching for what it is you truly want. Either way, here are a few ideas to get you started.

#1 Write Your Dreams Down

Forbes conducted a stunning study with Harvard MBA students on goals translating into reality. The study concluded that 3% of students wrote down their goals, 13% had unwritten goals, and 84% had no goals.

After ten years the same group was students were interviewed with incredible results. The group of 13% who had goals earned 2X as much as the 84% who had no goals. Moreover, perhaps most astonishing, the 3% with written goals earned 10X as much as the other 97% of the class combined. Even if your goal is not to make more money, the takeaway is clear, write your goals down. 

If you are uncertain what your long-term goals are, you may want to start with what you know. If where you want your career to go is unclear, write down one skill you want to develop in the next year. See where that takes you and begin asking yourself how your career lines up with your personal development.

#2 Share Your Dreams With Others

A community provides a robust support system for goals. Sharing your goals with others provides accountability for you, and can encourage others to grow in their own goals. Others can also be an excellent sounding board for discovering your goals. Get feedback from those who know you well, speak to experts in your field, and talk to a professional coach to clarify what you want and how you plan to get there.

In his book Vital Friends, Tom Rath of Gallup outlines eight different roles that other people in your life can play to help you achieve your goals and become all that you are meant to be. The research presented in this book also identifies that people who possess a best friend at work are seven times more engaged in their work than those without a best friend. Sharing your goals and dreams with another person is a sure-fire way to moving your career in the direction you truly want.

#3 Make Your Goals SMART

The beauty of writing down a goal is that you are forcing yourself to think it through in detail using your words. As you do, a framework for setting goals is SMART. To be SMART, a goal must be Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-specific. Specific to you—your strengths, your ambitions, your life. Measurable in a way you can record and evaluate achievement. Attainable within your future reality. Relevant to the vision you have for your life. Time-specific to a schedule or calendar.

However, what if you do not achieve your goals? I would encourage you to ask yourself a different question because this one is framed from the negative and comes from a place of resistance. Instead, ask yourself how you will celebrate when you achieve these goals? Alternatively, how great will you feel as you pursue these significant milestones in your life?

Moreover, finally, remember to enjoy the here and now as you pursue the new and next. Jim Rohn put it beautifully when he said, “Learn to be happy with what you have while you pursue all that you want.”