Who Knows What You Want? by Dave LaRue

What do you really want for you? I recently presented a keynote speech to a group of wealth advisors, individuals whose prevailing objective is to discover what is important to their clients and why, and this was the first question I posed to them. “You have to answer this question,” I said. “You are the only person who knows.” Much like these wealth advisors, we can get so caught up in the day-to-day grind of life—work commitments, family responsibilities, social obligations, and other things—that we often lose sight of our passion and purpose. We let “life” take the driver’s wheel and steer us in whichever direction it pleases.

I then asked them why. Even more important than the answer to the “what” are the reasons behind it. Having the emotional awareness and insight into what is motivating you will help you determine what it is that you truly desire in life. I reminded the group that if they didn’t discover the “why” for themselves, someone else would. Answering these questions—the “what” and the “why”—can provide tremendous clarity into our true selves.

At this point we had dug to the roots of their wants, but we needed to go deeper. I told the group we needed to understand what those roots were trying to tell us. “What’s driving these desires?” I asked them. “What unspoken needs reveal themselves to you through your desires?”

As simple as they may seem, our needs are often hidden—even from ourselves—until we seek them out. Our loved ones may be able to make educated guesses as to what they are, but as any therapist or divorce lawyer can tell you, relying on the guesses of others to meet your needs only leads to heartache in the end. Knowing what you need is far more important that knowing what you want, but sometimes, if you’ve been compromising or denying them, your wants can reveal your needs if you listen closely.

I then asked the group to come up with a list of their top 12 values—priorities in their personal and professional lives. Clarity about what we value helps us prioritize our lives, and it ensures we make choices that help us actively craft the world we want to live in.

Upon this reflection, I told them that “great actions stem from great thinking,” and that imagination and thought are the building blocks to the manifestation of dreams. To discover our dreams, we need to ask ourselves:

“When do I want what I want?”

“What do I love to do?”

“Why do I love to do what I do?”

“What is my genius?”

“How do I contribute brilliantly?”

“What helps to clarify my wants?”

“What brings them into focus?”

“What environments and roles are best for me?”

“What is the real reward I am seeking?”

No one can answer these questions for us, we have to do it ourselves. It may not be easy, but the magic of understanding and embracing the answers to these questions is one of the first steps to harnessing our genius.

It can be difficult for us to examine our lives and understand our natural abilities and inclinations, our genius; many people even struggle to acknowledge their talents and skills, feeling as though it betrays their humility. Shame has taught us to conceal what we love and care about, protected from the scrutiny of the world. But I challenge you: try to say or write down what you love. If you struggle with this, keep trying; you may be surprised at what it reveals.

The more difficult it is, the more valuable of a process it will be. Deepening our roots of self-knowledge gets us closer and closer to our truth, and all progress begins with truth. Keep in mind, there are no answers to fear, only questions left unasked. Don’t let shame or what others think affect your personal process of learning who you are, what you want and what you need.

While it may be challenging to unearth the answers to these questions, it will be far more rewarding to live with your needs met and desires fulfilled than to go through life staring at them from across the shore. You can get there from where you are, you just need to answer the important questions.

You alone are the only person who can do that.

Dave LaRue


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