What If You Don’t Know What You Want?

I’m realizing how common it is for people to think there’s something wrong with them if they don’t know what they want, in their work, their business, or their life.

I often hear things like this:

  • “I don’t have a clear goal or vision for my future, so I might be a hopeless case.”
  • “Other people just know what they want, but I’m not one of those people.”
  • “I’m trying to be self-employed but really I need to figure out what I actually like.”

I feel sad when someone thinks she is “a hopeless case.” In reality, lack of clarity on what you want is super common. It’s probably the norm!

But then, what to do?

[image - looking out wondering]

Anyone can find clarity. It’s not hopeless!

It’s just that it’s not easily found from reading a book or just thinking about it. It doesn’t just pop into your head one day. For some reason that’s what many people are waiting for, but it’s usually the wrong expectation, and that can keep you stuck.

There are ways to discover it, but it takes some conscious effort, a true willingness, and usually some support from outside your own head.

For some people, the idea of choosing something you want is not even a question, due to circumstances or cultural norms.

Even in the toughest circumstances though, people hear callings in their hearts and wonder what more is possible, and surprising things can happen. I’ve been deeply inspired lately while reading Frederick Douglass’ account of his years as an enslaved African in the U.S. South, and how he listened to a deep calling to do more with his life even though he couldn’t yet imagine how to escape or anything past that. Escape he did, and found his path in helping others to escape and to fight for the abolition of slavery.

Douglass found this secret: he took one step at a time, following his heart, not knowing where it would lead. Eventually, he even became a trusted advisor to President Lincoln, to his own surprise. I have been blown away by his story and his level of perseverance.

What if you’re someone who feels a tug in your heart to do something different? Are you willing to find out what your heart wants? That’s a real question to ponder. Actually stop and ask yourself if you’re willing to find out, and notice whatever feelings show up. It’s OK to listen. Often that’s not easy to do.

What about the Fear that arises?

Fear and inertia are usually part of what keeps us from even getting clear. Our mind says something, a bit unconsciously, like: “I probably won’t be able to do it, so why even find out what I want?”

Here’s what helps me. I find it’s worth finding out what I want and THEN figure out the How. It takes some effort to get to clarity, but stepping away from the How is my first step. Stop asking How before you know the What.

When to get help:

I’ve noticed people don’t seem to know they can get help with clarity. They think they should already know what they want before they can get help from someone like a life coach. But finding clarity is a big part of what I help with as a coach.

So it’s funny, yet sad, when people contact me and want help, but tell me they might be a hopeless case since they don’t know what they want. I tell them not to worry. That’s what I help with.

I think of my role as helping with clarity, confidence, and momentum. Maybe people think coaches only help with momentum (and that’s true for some coaches), but I love helping with all three.

We all need to find clarity, confidence, and momentum to create the life we want. And we can.

Please don’t let worries about clarity stop you from getting help to find clarity.

One of my clients recently wrote this, looking back on our work together. It seems to capture this theme I’m talking about:

I wasn’t sure what I wanted next in my career or life and was worried that would make it hard to work with a coach. I felt really frayed and unmoored. Our work together helped me discover that I really do have a strong inner compass that I can trust and call upon as I make decisions about trying new things.   ~JG

What does it even mean to listen to your heart?

I’m going to say more later about how do you hear and understand what your heart wants. That’s a big topic that I love. I hope you’ll subscribe for updates.

Want some homework?

Try repeating or writing this mantra for a few days and see what comes:

“I do know what I want and I’m willing to let it emerge.”

Probably you’ll start to hear some ideas percolating, and then fear will kick in and say “That’s impossible. Never mind. I don’t know what to do.”  That’s OK. I believe, in the famous words of Marie Forleo, “Everything is figureoutable.” You just might need help for the doubt part and the “How” part.

Introvert Inspiration Subscribe to Val's Updates

Get Val's updates, with booster shots of belonging and inspiration for quiet-loving women.
[Details and tech support.]

Your info will not be shared. (Privacy Policy)

* = required field
Choose at least one:


1 thought on “What If You Don’t Know What You Want?

  1. Pingback: Advice Column for Introverts – Work, Life, and Love - Relationship Advice

Comments and Questions Welcome: