October 30, 2009

3 Steps to Getting What You Really Want

Decide what you want, decide what you are willing to exchange for it. Establish your priorities and go to work. — H.L. Hunt

Are you ready for a truly illuminating personal experience? An exercise that will challenge, surprise, and even shock you? Then take a little ride with me today.

To get what you really want from life you have to know what’s truly important to you. Makes sense, doesn’t it? Good. So let’s find out what’s truly important to you right now so you can get on with the good work of getting what you really want.

This process may at first seem self-evident and a little simplistic, but stick with me. The results will be worth your while.

Step 1: List the Things You Believe Are Important in Your Life

Get a piece of paper and write a list of everything that’s truly important to you in your life. Include categories such as family, relationships, finances, mental and physical health, work, and play.

Stop now and make that list. When you’re done, set it aside and move to the next step.

Step 2: List the Activities That Consume Most of Your Time

On a separate sheet of paper list what you spend your days and weeks doing. What’s actually taking up your time? Refer to your datebook or calendar and look back over the last month. Be specific.

Stop now and make that list.

I confess: My first experience with this exercise was an eye-opener. I realized that though one of my most important things to do was complete the book I was writing, I was actually spending my time doing anything BUT writing the book. Was I avoiding it? I’m not in the mood to do that much self-analysis. But what I learned was that I had a problem with the way I was setting my priorities. They didn’t match what I wanted to get from my life.

How well do the items in your list reflect what you wrote in the first one?

Set aside your lists and proceed to the next step.

Step 3: List What You Spend Your Money On

I’ve seen people cringe and walk away from this one. It’s a scary step for many people because they have strained relationships with money. (I’ll show you what to do about that another time.) Truth is that what you spend your money says a lot about what your priorities really are.

On another sheet of paper, list what you actually spend your money on. Refer to your check register or online bank account for to be as accurate as possible. Go back over the past month so your list has depth.

Stop now and make that list.

What do you see? How well does what you spend your money on reflect what you believe is truly important to you?

Matching What You Believe with What You Do

The first time I did the money exercise was during a period of my life in which I was recovering from addiction. What I believed was truly important to me — family, financial well-being, health, and so forth — was not reflected in how I spent my time and money. It hurt to see that. But the exercise opened my eyes.

What about you? Perhaps you want to live an anxiety-free life yet are still living an anxiety-inducing lifestyle. Or perhaps you’re out of shape and want to get healthy again but you keep doing things that keep you that unhealthy and overweight.

To get what you truly want is as simple as matching up what you do with what you say. It is a matter of deciding to live consciously.

Here’s the hard truth: Getting what you want is one third vision and two thirds action. If you are frustrated about the quality of your life, then do something about it. Get mad. Get really uncomfortable. Stop telling yourself you can’t do something about it because you CAN do something about it right now.

Decide right now that you are going to act in a way that’s aligned with what’s truly important to you.

Yes, it’s time to be a little black-and-white about things. Time to adult-up and be the driver of your life train rather than live as a stupefied, unconscious passenger.

I realize that you might be looking for an easy way out. I certainly was all those years ago.

There isn’t an easy way out.

Getting what you want from life requires that you first put something into the game. You must prime the pump before cool water flows into your cup. Even in the land of milk and honey you must do what’s necessary to earn them.

What’s truly important to you? What do you really want to create for your life?

What will you do now?

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