Is it Enough to Know What You Want?

April 1, 2018

To begin, take a few minutes to respond to these two questions, 1) Are you happy with your life? 2) Do you feel satisfied with what you’ve achieved? Sometimes, it is hard to know what you want. Maybe the non-stop pace of your life doesn’t leave you any time to reflect on if you like the life you live. You don’t have a chance to think about if there are goals you’d like to meet. Or perhaps you have some clear objectives, but you don’t know how to start on the path that leads you there. 

If this is the case, if you have specific goals in mind, this article will give you some very useful tips that will help you reach them. But first, let’s examine your life. We’ll look at the path you are on and how you make decisions. Because we know that knowing what you want, using your judgment, and being on the “right” path is the foundation for giving your goals coherent meaning in your life. 

Do you have a compass that guides you on your path?

Whether or not you have specific objectives, try to stay focused on a general one. Make a compass that orients you so you always know where your directions are. You still might not avoid obstacles entirely, but it will help you not get lost or disoriented.

Your path can take a lot of turns. It has its ups and downs and there are obstacles and storms to weather. The important thing is knowing that you are on the “right” path. In addition, how you move forward will highlight what is valuable to you and essential for enriching your life. 

stopwatch

How do you know if you are on the right path?

To start with, you often feel uncertain if you are making the right decision or if what you are doing is the best thing. This is normal. Uncertainty is part of the risk that goes along with many of the decisions that we make.

There’s no one in the world who can tell you for sure that you are on the right path. Fortunately, there’s more than one correct path. There are even different ways of getting to the same place. In any case, the fact that you are the one choosing your direction is a good omen.

It’s not hard to know what you want and to find your own path, but you might not be used to doing it. So often you let other people guide you. Maybe you do this because it’s easier, or because you are afraid you won’t get the results you expect. Sometimes, you trust other people more than yourself. But no one knows better than you what is best for you.

Listen to your emotions, they will give you the information about what you need. This will help you make your own judgments, which will allow you reach a state of autonomy. Autonomy has a unifying function in the moral regulation system, as described by Villegas (2011).

Do you decide with your mind or with your heart?

Once you listen to your emotions, use reason to follow the signals that they give you. It is a matter of finding the balance between the sources of information (emotions) and working with them (reason and intuition). That is what will help you increase your possibilities for success.

In this balance, motivation plays an important role. As M. Grad (2015) says, you won’t believe you are capable of doing it until you do it. Although, on the other hand, it’s also good to analyze your goals to see if they are realistic  possible.

“Follow your heart, but take your brain with you”

-Alfred Adler-

Is it enough to know what you want?

Now you realize how important it is to follow your own path in a general sense. You probably also have some more practical goals you would like to reach. Practical, but at the same time will take you closer to a feeling of well-being and fulfillment. These objectives can be very diverse: wanting to exercise more, learning a language, organizing your room or your house, meditating every day, etc.

Nevertheless, it isn’t enough to just know what you want. Stopping at the general idea is useless, like “I want to do more exercise.” It’s like you never even set a goal at all. To really achieve your goals, in addition to motivation, the first step is to plan. This is what Dr. Diaz is referring to in his article “Thinking About the Future Throughout the Life Cycle.”

writing to show you know what you want

In this way, concrete objectives are what will give shape to the general goal that we talked about at the beginning. Toja and Bravi (2015) explain that instead of saying “I will exercise more,” it is better to be more specific. “I will do ten sets of crunches every day.” That way you aren’t left with an abstract affirmation, but something concrete that you can commit to doing. As you can see, it isn’t enough to know what you want.

“Setting goals reduces the distance that separates you from them.”

-Anxo Perez-

How can you achieve your goals?

Sometimes, your challenge is much more difficult. For example, “I want to run a marathon.” Just thinking about this goal can be overwhelming and so you end up procrastinating. That’s why it is important to divide your goals into parts. For example, “I will train 30 minutes per day.” It’s all about starting with attainable goals. Once you fulfill those, you go on to the more difficult ones. 

It is also useful to set a specific time of day for carrying out your objectives. Maybe you do it when you wake up in the morning or when you get home at night. This is a very important point, because if you don’t have a concrete plan for when you will take action, you might never have time for it.

According to Perez (2014), one of the key strategies for achieving goals is to set a “zero tolerance” goal. This isn’t your primary goal, it is much simpler. But it’s simple for a reason. You have to do it without exception so you don’t lose consistency. 

For example, if your goal is to train 30 minutes a day, but that is very difficult for you, your zero tolerance goal could be 5 minutes per day. Surely you can do 5 minutes! This will help you stay consistent.

What do you need to move from planning to action?

Once you know what you want, you listen to your emotions and plan your goals, the next step is to take action. If you want to be successful in achieving your goals, we recommend you follow all of these tips. Above all, optimism is key. If you believe in a better future, you will be able to pursue your goals with greater perseverance. 

Finally, beyond knowing what you want, you should have a clear understanding of why you want to achieve these goals. Thinking about it will give you strength and meaning to your effort. Don’t give up, you are getting ever closer to achieving your goals.

“Remember your dreams and fight for them. You must know what you want from life. There is just one thing that makes your dream become impossible: the fear of failure.”

-Paulo Coelho-

Bibliographic References:

-Grad, M. (2015). La princesa que creía en los cuentos de hadas. Barcelona: Ediciones Obelisco.

-Pérez, A. (2014). Los 88 peldaños del éxito. Barcelona: Alienta Editorial.

-Toja, O. y Bravi, S. (2015). Actitud positiva para perezosas. Barcelona: Editorial Planeta.

-Villegas, M. (2011). El error de Prometeo: Psico(pato)logía del desarrollo moral. Barcelona: Herder.