When Sarah was just a small child, she was very curious and had a strong will. With a big world to explore, she got into everything—from pulling out the linens in the closet to feel how the various materials rubbed against her skin, to tugging up the flowers in the garden to find out how deep the roots went. Sarah was definitely a handful of energy as she plunged headfirst into whatever she had decided to do.
Rather than asking Sarah why she did the things she did, her parents felt that discipline would set her straight. So, with stern voices they would chastise her, rather than seek to understand her:
Don’t touch that!
Stay out of there!
Don’t do that!
You should be ashamed of yourself, Sarah!
To avoid being reprimanded, Sarah quickly learned how to do the things that her parents wanted her to do, rather than those that she wanted for herself. As she grew older, this way of living—operating to satisfy others at her own expense—became the norm and she forgot the simple joys of making up her own mind about what she wanted to do and how she wanted to do it.
Does this story sound familiar to you?
Can you relate with the way Sarah began to live her parent’s vision for her life—or rather was limited by their lack of vision—instead of deciding what she wanted from life and who she truly wanted to be? Her early childhood programming got in the way of discovering what she really wanted in life.
My book The Success Principles: How to Get from Where You Are to Where You Want to Be asks the child in all of us an important question: Do you know what you want from your life?
Deciding What You Want
The subtitle of my book is “How to Get from Where You Are to Where You Want to Be.” The implication, of course, is that to find success, you not only have to know where you are now, but you also need to know where you want to end up. You need to be able to imagine what that place—your place of success, that place you want to be in life—feels like, sounds like, smells like, tastes like. You need to clarify your destination so you will be sure to know it when you arrive.
Clarifying exactly what you want in life is no easy task. As it guides you to a more refined sense of self-awareness, The Success Principles™ offers a wealth of wonderful suggestions to help you on your journey. Here is a sampling of ways to help you decide what you want from your life.
Stop Settling for “I Don’t Care, I Don’t Know, and It Doesn’t Matter to Me.”
It doesn’t matter how small the decision, to begin reclaiming your right to decide what you want, have a preference. Yours is just as important as anybody else’s so speak up, voice yourself.
If you are having a hard time figuring out the one thing you want from your life, why not choose thirty? That’s right. On a piece of paper, write down a list of 30 things you want to do, 30 things you want to have, and 30 things you want be before you die. Sometimes when the pressure to find just one thing is removed, the floodgates open and you discover that there are a multitude of things that you want to do with and in your successful life.
Make an “I want” List
For 10-15 minutes have a friend record your answers to the simple question, “What do you want?” During the allotted time, have your friend ask you the question over and over again. If you’re like most people, your list will range from the very material things to matters of the heart and the true revelations of who you are and what you want from your most true self. Go ahead, start asking: What do you want? What do you want? I want! I want!
Don’t Worry, The Money Will Come
Is worrying about making a living keeping you from deciding upon what you want in life? Are you afraid that you won’t be able to survive if you follow your bliss? Make a list of 20 things you absolutely love to do. Then, try and imagine ways you can make a living doing these things. For example, if you love books, you could be a writer, a librarian, a clerk in a bookstore, a teacher, a desktop publisher, and on and on. Don’t worry—you can do it. You only have to believe, trust, and act.
When you are deciding what you want from your life, there is no reason to think small. Take a risk and dream big, shoot for the stars. This is your opportunity to write the script to your life—you are the star, not a bit player. Have the courage to write the role of a lifetime and, imagine this, yours will be the name shining on the marquee for all to see. Dream big because amazing things can and do happen to people just like you each and every day!
Share Your Vision—It Will Help You See
When you share your vision of success with trusted others, family and close friends, you will gain the support of your loved ones. In addition, each time you verbalize your goals, you are affirming to yourself and the universe that you know what you want in life, where you want to go, and that you are deserving of the successes you will find when you arrive.
Don’t delay. Decide what you want and begin transforming your life starting today!
Equip yourself for victory in your life with The Success Principles™—How to Get from Where You Are to Where You Want to Be, the essential guidebook for those serious about learning who they are, who they can be, and where they want to go. You’ll discover 67 proven principles the world’s top achievers use to excel in business, finances, relationships, career and more.
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+ By Emma Mudan Harrigan Campbell
Over the course of eight years, I have switched career paths constantly. My first idea was to become a singer, then a dancer, and then an actor—maybe even all three at once. I liked how people would occasionally compliment me on my voice when I sang, and I figured why stop there?
I wanted to become someone great, someone who changed the world; mainly through theatrics. Then I switched to a more political standpoint and thought about being a lawyer. My mother said I would make a good lawyer since I manage to avoid questions by not directly answering them.
Today, I aspire to be a writer, any sort of writer—an author, a journalist, a blogger, anything. This was the doing of my third grade teacher, who read a short story I wrote out loud and said, “If this girl doesn’t become a writer, I don’t know who will.” The underlying connection between all of these jobs is that someone else told me I could be them. That I would be “good” at singing, or a “talented” writer. But, the idea of choosing something based on what other people say doesn’t appeal to me. Yes, I want to be a writer, but is it for the right reason?
“Do what you love, love what you do.” I found this quote while trying to break my writer’s block for an English essay. It may be cheesy and overused, but I think there is more importance to it than just a saying on a hand towel. When most people read this, the first thing they think of is their career. Why is that? I think it is because we automatically correlate the verbs “do” and “be” with a job. When someone asks, “What do you want to be?” People tend to say their future or current career choice. I have never heard someone respond with an emotion or a nontangible idea.
Pondering this, I found my answer for what I want to be when I grow up. Instead of choosing a potential job that will change time and time again, I need a long-term plan. In the course of one lifetime, I want to be happy. Realizing this, the question, “What do you want to be?” might not provide the correct platform for my answer, “I want to be happy.” Maybe the appropriate question for this answer is, “How do you want to exist?” When I “grow up” I want to exist happily. Although it sounds simple, I can imagine it probably won’t be as easy to carry out. There will be highs and, there will be lows. I plan to take on the lows with a smile as my sword, and with the knowledge that I will make it out alive. Maybe I will become a writer, or maybe I won’t. Whatever I choose career wise, I know it will be because I am happy doing it.
About the Writer: Emma is 13 years old and lives in Annapolis.