Life is full of so many questions that we need to answer. In our search for happiness, we try desperately to work out exactly what it is that we want. We might ask ourselves, at one point or time:
“What career path do I want to follow?”
“What do I want in a partner?”
“Do I want to get married?”
“Do I want to have children?”
“Do I want to live here or there?”
For many of us, it’s downright hard trying to discover the answers; it’s confusing, overwhelming, stressful trying to work out what you want when there are so many options available. But what if we need to shift the focus away from what we want, but instead, to what we don’t want. What if we need to stop being so hard on ourselves and allow ourselves the opportunity to narrow down the choices?
Photo Credit: Jeanne Claire Marrbes / FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Stepping away from perfection
A couple weeks ago, I had quite an interesting conversation with a friend of mine who is also a writer. We discussed the topic of writer’s block and what we believe are the causes of it. I told her, in my experience, it’s sometimes about fear and a lack of self-confidence. There have been many times when I’ve been sitting at my laptop, racking my brain trying to think of ideas – when I’ve realised, I’ve had the ideas all along. But in the process of sitting there, I’ve been telling myself:
“No, that idea isn’t good.”
“No, that doesn’t sound quite right.”
It’s only when I started typing something I didn’t want, I came to what I did want instead.
I think life is a bit like that – even when it comes to discovering what personality traits we want in a partner, what career path we want to follow, the sort of friends we want to be around.
When I was only 17 years old, I found the man that I would later marry. We were engaged at 18, married at 20 and have been married for almost 6 years now, and have three young children. But many of our friends were skeptical about our union – due to our young age, they questioned whether we would last a lifetime. But we both knew we could and would. How did I know that we would?
Because, before I met my husband, I knew what I didn’t want. I didn’t want a life partner who I couldn’t be myself around. I didn’t want a life partner who didn’t make me feel safe and secure. I didn’t want someone who couldn’t love me for who I was, who didn’t respect me, who didn’t give me the love and attention I deserved. My own personal experiences helped me realise what I didn’t want.
Paving the way to my dream career
I wanted to “be” many things growing up. I wanted to be a singer/songwriter, a teacher, a web designer, a psychologist, a speech pathologist – some of these dreams lasted for years, some arrived and left in a fleeting moment. But what I’ve learned in the midst of dreaming near and far is that we always arrive at a career path that is right for us – even if we didn’t realise it at the time.
Now that I work as a freelance writer and run a blog as well, I now understand why I wanted to take on all those other roles at one stage. I enjoyed songwriting because it brought out my creative side. I liked the idea of teaching because it meant I could help our future generation. I liked web design because IT had always interested me. I liked psychology because I was and still am passionate about emotional and mental health. I pondered a future in speech pathology because I wanted to help children reach their full potential.
But now, here I am, working as a writer who writes about parenting, psychology, emotional and mental health – all the fields that interested me before. I’m making a difference to people’s lives, just like I’ve always wanted but just in a slightly different way.
I believe that all the skills I acquired from my past career aspirations have benefited my career as a writer now. I believe that by working out what I didn’t want to do, I arrived at working out what I did.
Discovering what you don’t want
It’s not easy working out what you want when it comes to your career, your family, your friends, your relationships. But maybe it’s time to work out what you don’t want.
Try to narrow the choices down a little. Try to take the pressure off yourself. Experiment a little with different careers, date different people in order to find the right person, sever relationships and friendships if they’re not making you happy.
Don’t be so hard on yourself if the course you completed no longer interests you and you want to try another one. Don’t be so hard on yourself if you invested time and energy into a relationship that didn’t work out. All experiences are learning experiences – nothing is ever a waste of time.
It may be difficult to work out what you want, but it is less difficult to work out what you don’t.