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Cultivating Clarity By Answering One Question


What do you want? 

This question is one of the most difficult and important questions to answer. In today’s world of option overload, it is easy to feel overwhelmed, paralyzed, and frustrated. Being clear on what you want can be a useful tool in navigating this chaos. Knowing what you want, however, is not always easy. One of the many ways to gain clarity on this matter is to use the experiences and moments of your daily life as a means to gather references and data. Any time you have an experience that brings about an emotion or feeling, you can use this as a reference. You can determine if you want more or less of the same experience or even more or less of portions of the experience. 

Let’s say, for example, that you randomly have a very meaningful and deep conversation with a stranger that made you feel good and gave you insight into your own life. This experience can be a reference for something that you like and want. When you reflect back on the experience you can say “more of this”. Experiences that do not make you feel good can be used to gain clarity as well. When you reflect back on these experiences you can simply say, “not this”. You do not need to articulate what it is that you like or don’t like about an experience. You can simply point to it. Articulation may come in time but it is not necessary for the reference to be valuable and useful.

Doing this with a variety of experiences will give you a rich data set of references for the things you want as well as the things you don’t want. Over time, these references can reveal patterns that you may not have been aware of previously. These patterns can help you gain deeper insight and clarity about yourself as the patterns may reveal your core values and beliefs.  For example, if your “more of this” references include tidy spaces, quiet time, and well made things with a minimalist design, and your “not this” references include wastefulness and complicated things, simplicity may be one of your core values.

As you become clear on what you want, this (what you want) can be used to guide your choices. If something is in alignment with what you want, engage and explore. If something is not in alignment with what you want, do not engage or explore. This process can lead to efficiency in decision making and action.

It is important to note that we are continually communicating what we want and need whether we are aware of it or not. The more effort we put into knowing ourselves, the more we will be able to mindfully (and skillfully) define and communicate what we want. Regardless of where we are in our development, the larger systems that we are a part of usually, if not always, continually give us what we want and need. Being clear on what we want can enable us to efficiently receive resources from the larger systems we are a part of. We can also be more discerning on which resources to keep and which ones to pass on. 

The process of determining what you want is powerful in its own right. This process actively requires you to be present and make choices. In doing so, you are utilizing one of the key powers of a human being, the power to choose. 

Being clear on what you want is an ongoing process with exponential benefits. As we grow, so do our wants and needs. There are also wants and needs that remain constant. By continually engaging the process of defining and knowing what you want, these constants will make themselves known. Further, the process of defining and knowing what you want not only leads to clarity and efficiency, it can also result in a deeper sense of self as it requires you to go deep within and engage all that you are a part of.

To be clear, there are many (deeper) ways to gain clarity on what you want. The method discussed in this post is only one of them, which can be used as a starting point and/or anchor in your journey. Also, this post is about gaining clarity on what you want and NOT about getting what you want. Getting what you want is a related process and will be covered in a separate post.

Enjoy your cultivation and all that you do.


Sincere thanks to Rob McMullin for assistance with this post.


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