What do you Want? - the starting point
If I asked "What do you want?" would you be able to tell me? Would your answer be clear? Would it be reasonable and achievable? Would it make sense for you? Would it be something that could help you be happy over the long haul?
Success in any endeavor requires that you know what you want. It sounds so very simple, but many people can't answer that simple question. Many can't answer the question simply because they have never asked themselves this specific question.
It's the all important starting point for getting what you want in order to be successful, happy, satisfied and fulfilled.
Let's look at why it's important and how we might start to craft a vision of what we want.
Here's What We Often Do
Imagine that we take a road trip for a few hours and wind up somewhere, but who knows where? After we arrive, we look around and see that this isn't a place we'd like to spend time in.
Okay, so what do we do? We get back in the car and head off somewhere else. Again, when we arrive, we assess the situation and decide if this is a satisfactory place for us.
This sounds a little misguided to me simply because our travels aren't planned or mapped out in any way. We're kind of ricocheting all over the landscape hoping to find something that pleases us.
If we paused for a moment before traveling and asked ourselves "What do we want?" we'd probably be better directed in our travels and might arrive somewhere we would like to spend our time.
It's important to know what we want because it makes finding it easier and more efficient. And, once we get what we want, we'll know it because it fits our vision.
Now, let's look at how we might start to craft this vision of what it is we want.
What Do You Want - defining it
I see two basic ways of answering the question, "What do you want?" They're approaches that address the proactive and reactive nature in each of us. It probably takes a little of both to really answer the question, "What do you want?"
Knowing what we want from a proactive standpoint can be difficult because we have to ask ourselves "What do you want?" and we have to be honest with ourselves when we answer the question.
Honesty is the hard part. "To thine own self be true...." A quote from Shakespeare's play Hamlet. It can be exceedingly difficult to be honest with ourselves because we have to live with ourselves, and any inconsistencies in thought, word or deed must (and often will) be justified so we don't see the truth that hurts.
So, many of us go through life fooling ourselves about where we are, where we're going, and the "why" behind all of it.
To be proactive, we have to identify what we think we want, and then take a look at our choices from several perspectives to see if what we think we want is really in our best interest. We have to "hold it up to the light" to see if it matches who we are and our plan for our life.
Here are some of the questions that I would ask:
- Is this a whim, a fad, or a passing phase in my life?
- Are my desires consistent with who I am, who I really want to be, and what's in my heart?
- Is what I want sustainable over the long haul? In other words, does it have a future?
- Are my wants reasonable in light of who I am, where I am now and where I'm heading?
- Am I aware of the price for getting what I want, and am I ready to pay that price?
It takes quite a bit of soul searching to answer these questions honestly. These are important questions to consider, especially if what you want is life changing. You don't want to go down a life changing path lightly - it has to be all or nothing.
I sat down once with the "president" of my company and told him that I didn't like the bonus program the company had put together because if left me without a bonus, despite good success with bringing in business, making a profit, and spending very little in terms of business development funds.
My chief complaint was that the overhead costs that chewed up my potential bonus were costs that I didn't create.
He asked me, "Well then, what do you want to see in a bonus program?" It was a legitimate question, but one that he asked to be polite - he wasn't going to do anything to change the program - he just wanted me to get it off my chest.
My response was simply that I didn't know exactly what I would want for a bonus program, but I knew that I didn't want my bonus to be contingent on factors that I had no control over; factors like corporate overhead that didn't contribute to my success as a business element within the company. I told him that I couldn't see anything that the corporate office did for me, except time sheets and invoicing, that helped promote or better my business efforts.
His response was right on target. He said, "If you don't think all the value of the corporate office supports your business, then perhaps you need to find another company to work for." And, I did. I started my own company with no corporate overhead, and the time sheets and invoicing I handled on my own.
This example shows that sometimes we're at a point where we can't answer "What do you want?" but we can identify elements that we don't want. That allows us to engage in a process of elimination to help steer us closer towards our vision simply by knowing what it is we would like to avoid.
Finding What You Want
I believe that the answer to, "What do you want?" is found by using a combination of proactive and reactive means. We can have a general idea of what interests us and pleases us, but I think we also have to know what are "show stoppers" out there.
We can think of these as parameters within which we'd like to work. There is nothing wrong with having parameters, as long as those parameters are not put in place (by us) to artificially limit ourselves.
Try starting at both the ends of the spectrum. Define what you want up front, and then work from the other end to make certain you know what you will not tolerate. Somewhere in the middle you'll likely find the answer to, "What do you want?"
Done with What do you Want, back to Critical Success Factors