As often happens on birthdays or pivotal moments, I had several people ask me what I wanted – in terms of what to do that day, how/when/where to celebrate, or what I might want for a gift. I understand these questions. I’ve asked them of others often, and I usually have a quick response, either prepared or in-the-moment reflexively.
Knowing what we want, whether we are disciples of Dr. Frankl’s book Man’s Search For Meaning, as I am, or if it is what we want on a menu – is so common a question that most of us answer questions like that routinely with pat and simple answers without giving is much thought.
But, since you asked, what do I want?
I could write a book.
In fact, I’m working on three book projects – so I want to finish them. I’m working on many things that won’t do themselves, so I want to have the energy and take the time to get them completed. I want more business, more customers, more work to do – for the same reasons everyone else does: we need and rely upon the revenue and sustenance is more important for everyone right now in Alberta specifically because things have been down-turned too long for most people’s comfort, plus this COVID pandemic isn’t blowing over or away anytime soon, so we need to strike the right balance of new things, old things, innovative things, and clever things to make our way in the world.
But in having said all that, I’ve not given or found a ‘short simple answer’ to the question, “What do you want?”
I suspect I am not alone.
I realize this is important in life – to identify a central unifying goal, like providing for our family, making the world a better place, building a successful career/practice/business, accumulating money and security, being and staying healthy. We all want those elements, don’t we?
If we focus on only one element, what about the others? We shouldn’t abandon worthy objectives, but when push comes to shove, which matters most?
We must want to do what is necessary – without regard to whether it is easy.
We must want to do what we dream of – because, without that goal, we’ll lose momentum.
We must want to do what pleases us, but most of us find our highest satisfaction comes – not from pleasing ourselves, but from the value of pleasing others. In business, that’s called delivering customer satisfaction.
In life, it is part of our need to be needed, our want to be wanted, our drive to be of value and worth to others whether or not they reciprocate – but it is so sweet when that happens.
We all want to sustain ourselves, we all want to be valuable and to be valued – but mostly, I think we feel best rewarded when we enjoy having won a battle, achieved a goal, climbed higher than we thought we could, and pulled ourselves out of the muck or the gutter when we had to. And many of these battles are not physical, not verbal, not seen or heard. They are quiet ones in our heads, we share them with nobody. Maybe a partner, close friend, piece of paper – or with an imaginary friend …
We do our best work inside our own heads. We do our most self-damaging work there too, so it’s a juggle.
What do I want?
Long, happy life, worthy work to pursue and causes to support.
It would be nice to not be alone, but only if I can do what I want.
To close, this General George S. Patton quote: “Success is how high you bounce when you hit bottom.”