Knowing what you want and acting upon it

Maybe the most thought provoking question for any individual is what to do with their lives. The time frame is limited by definition and possibilities are infinite.

We see that for the fast majority of people this question is extremely hard to answer. Actually for most of us it is so difficult that we tend to avoid thinking about it too much. We go on with our life, benefit from opportunities and overcome setbacks, which is quite understandable. 

On the other hand, the few people that do have a clear vision on what they really want to do have an obvious head start. They have a different drive, they pull from another source of energy and they have more focus, so they waste less energy on top of it. This is precisely the reason why we bring up this subject in the context of our mission to support entrepreneurs and high potentials in the further development of their leadership skills. Many people think that entrepreneurs and high potentials are "in it" for the money. Our experience is completely different.

  1. Maybe some entrepreneurs initially start with an ambition to get rich, but if it were really true that this was their only drive, the fast majority of successful people would immediately stop working as soon as they made enough money. This is not the case. 
  2. If they would not be passionate about what they are doing, they would not be able to keep up with the pace of living as they do year after year. Many entrepreneurs persevere even during many start up years of working hard for relatively little or no money even risking their own savings.

So we're convinced that most highly successful people do what they want to do and they find a way to make money with it by trial and error. Money is the means, not the objective.  

But how do you find out what you really want?

Actually, in theory, it is not too complicated: The mind has 3 capacities: thinking, feeling and willing. Willing can be directed outwards as action and inwards as concentration. When these 3 capacities are in sync, you're on the right track. So, whatever you're up to, it has to feel good, you have to be able to rationalize it as well, because you have to be able to explain it to yourself and the people around you. And then you can focus and act upon it. 

As soon as there is an unbalance in these 3 capabilities you lose energy and in the end wear yourself out. When you think of it, not many people are truly balanced. They may feel 'in control', but that is something else.

Most of our actions do not fully reflect feelings and thoughts. Politeness and other cultural and moral conventions put pressure on us to act against our personal preferences all the time. The more 'mature' and 'authentic' we become the less we care about the conventions. The more we listen to ourselves, the more we get away with it as well.

Finding out our drives involves foremost sincere practice.

The following exercise can help you: 

  1. Define your personal goal assuming that you have no limitations whatsoever. No obligations, no moral pressures, nothing.  
  2. Define the most important need you have to fulfill in order to achieve this goal.  
  3. Define the time-frame in which you want to achieve your goal.
  4. Define the most important reason why you did not yet fulfill the need you have in order to reach your goal.
  5. Define which need you serve by not acting in accordance with your goal.
  6. Define the way to fulfill both needs simultaneously. The need in 2 and the need in 5 have be fulfilled together in order to avoid any tendency to compromise.
  7. Define the first step towards this approach.  
  8. Investigate for yourself why you did not make this step already.
  9. Start acting.
  10. Learn while moving, everything changes anyway. 

Of course a lot can go wrong in the process as we describe it above.  It doesn't change the approach as such. Think in possibilities, not in problems. You will need this quality many times once you start as an entrepreneur.

We believe that it won't help you to philosophize too much on why you have certain preferences. Just act upon them. They may be different 10 years or even 1 year from now. Just don't switch too often, because then you will never start to execute...

For further reading please click through to our article with the same title.