The Big Wants


  • Gain clarity on what really matters to you, and why
  • Shift into an active, problem-solving mindset about what you want (in contrast to the passive mindset of complaining)

Estimated time: 15–40 minutes

All of us want things for ourselves that we don’t have. At times, those things may be fairly substantial, such as a different career, lifestyle, family situation, or place to live. In this exercise, we ask you to consider what you would really want if you could have anything at all. Remember to focus on what you want for yourself, not what you want from others (e.g., “I want to have more autonomy at work,” rather than “I want the management to stop being so controlling”). Don’t censor yourself, and don’t limit yourself to wants that seem reasonable or realistic to you. Think about what you’d like to change about:

  • where you live (including your city, state, or country, type of living arrangements, etc.)
  • the type of work you do
  • your schedule
  • your financial situation
  • your romantic life
  • your relationships with friends
  • your relationships with your siblings, parents, children, or other family members
  • your level of health and well-being
  • anything else that really matters to you

If you’d like to keep your answers private, write them down on paper. If it would help you to get coaching, do this exercise together with a partner. For each issue you identify, ask yourself (or have your partner ask you) the following four questions:

  1. Why does this matter to me?
  2. What’s holding me back from getting what I want?
  3. Are there any negative predictions or mind-reads in my way?
  4. What steps could I take to bring my real life closer to the life I wish I had?

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