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  • Writer's pictureDavid Stamation

What Do You Want?

It’s the toughest question in coaching. Why is it so hard to know what we want? Why doesn’t it come easily and naturally?

Why is it Such a Hard Question to Answer?

Because it is vulnerable. To declare what we want is risky because we might not get it, so better to not try. You asked once before and didn’t get it, so you don’t want to be let down again.

For others they don’t feel worthy asking for what they want, their needs come second, and they are good at citing a million reasons not to ask. Here are some of the reasons I hear from people: I’m not smart enough, nor pretty or handsome enough, and I’m not educated adequately. In the end it boils down to not being enough.

How I Help People

I use two approaches that help people articulate what it is they do want: Stating what they don’t want and having them say their judgements aloud. Take time to develop one or both and you’ll be able to name your wants. If the word ‘want’ feels like too much, then switch it out for ‘needs’, sometimes naming a need is easier.

Naming what you don’t want provides a contrast for what you do want. It takes practice and patience. As for judgements, why not use them, they’re everywhere. Use the judgement to note how you feel about something. Such as, Idiot driver. They didn’t signal! This judgement tells you may need or want order and predictability on the road. Great. Now, how can you model that behavior you want in others? Perhaps letting people in for a lane change or signaling sooner yourself could be a start.

The Stretch

Tomorrow morning when you wake up ask, What do I want today? Make it simple. I want to return home today after work feeling energized. Or I want to feel connected to people. I want to be the one who plans and prepares dinner. And my personal favorite, I want to feel accomplished.

This is how you begin to condition yourself to knowing what you want using small and easy examples to retrain your brain.

Listen to yourself when you say or think what it is you don’t want, then pause and feel it, then ask, What do I want? Linking it to an emotion helps greatly.

When judgement rears its head be sure to use it. Move past righteousness and anger and ask what my judgement tells me about myself and what I want or need.


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