If you don’t know what you want in life, look at what you do
If you want to know what you want, look at what you do. Consider the ways we fool ourselves into believing we want things we really don’t. How often do you hear yourself saying ‘I want a new job’ or ‘I want to get fit’, ‘see my friends more’, ‘lose weight’, ‘learn a language’, ‘see the Great Wall of China’, ‘run a marathon’, ‘write a book’, ‘play the guitar’, or any one of a hundred items on your bucket list. No you don’t! Otherwise you’d be doing those things.
It’s strange isn’t it? We genuinely do want these things, only, not badly enough to actually change our behaviour; not badly enough to make the sacrifice necessary to achieve the goal. In my case, I can waste a precious Saturday afternoon on a computer game. What am I thinking? There’s any number of better things I could be doing but, at that moment, I am relaxing and doing nothing; switching off, in fact. If I really wanted to, say, phone my sisters to see how’s they’re doing, I’d do it. There’s nothing stopping me.
I was a smoker when a student (tobacco, I was too uncool for anything else). Then I entered a 10k race having done no training. Only 20 years old, I had to walk most of the way but really enjoyed the fag I had at the end of the race. Two weeks later though, I decided to stop smoking. With no fanfare, I wrote the date on an unfinished packet of fags and just stopped. I didn’t find giving up smoking difficult because I really wanted to. I don’t recall wrestling with should-I, shouldn’t-I thoughts. It was as if the subconscious part of me came to a decision and then informed the conscious part of me what to do.
This is why we fail. The conscious part of you thinks, ‘I want to lose weight. I’m going to diet.’ But the subconscious part of you – the part that really makes the decisions – says ‘Yeah, right!’ My advice for anyone who doesn’t lose weight when they diet or finds smoking difficult to give up is simply to stop dieting and carry on smoking. You obviously don’t want to, or you’d have done it.
We all suffer momentary doubts or a sudden loss of confidence. Anyone who’s ever had a relationship break up, witnessed the sudden success of a friend or colleague, suffered bereavement, illness, or a setback in their job, will have asked themselves about the direction their life is going and not necessarily known the answer. However, if you really want the answer, look at what you’re doing now. And if you really don’t like it, change it. Otherwise cut yourself some slack.