The first step to getting what you want in life is knowing what you want.

The first step to getting what you want in life is knowing what you want. This may sound obvious, but a surprising number of us are going through life without really coming to terms with the truth of what we want. There are many reasons for this, and they range from parental influences that curb our imaginations to external factors that curb our ability to take action. We may feel that getting too caught up in exploring our deepest desires is wasted energy when it seems we want things beyond our grasp. This is a very practical attitude and has its benefits, but it can be safely balanced with a more imaginative and unlimited approach to the question of what we want.

Perhaps you are 40 years old and find within yourself a desire to be a ballet dancer. You see the impracticality and seeming impossibility of this idea, so you reject it without exploring it. But perhaps you should allow yourself to feel this desire and perhaps even take a dance class. Allowing yourself to participate in ballet in small ways may provide inspiration that leads you in a new direction in life. And time spent doing what you want to do is never wasted because it generates energy that can fuel the rest of your life.

You can begin to uncover and discover what you want by doing a simple, timed writing exercise. Set your timer for 15 minutes and write without stopping, starting every sentence with the words “I want.” Writing without stopping for a set period of time enables your inner voice to override your inner censor and helps to unearth buried dreams. It also creates a feeling of relief in the mind, heart, and body. This exercise can also be practiced orally, alone or in the company of a friend. You might try doing this exercise every morning for a week, looking back at the end of the week to see what has come up. Sometimes the simple act of expressing a want actually releases it, while other yearnings retain their energy, asking us to pay attention. When we pay attention to what we want, we are that much closer to getting it.