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Thursday, October 4, 2018

What Do You Really Want?

We all have goals. Big ones, small ones. One of my small goals is to read at least one book per month. In the past few months I've read Searching for Sunday by Rachel Held Evans, Educated by Tara Westover, The Unseen Real by Stephen Seamands, Braving the Wilderness by Brene Brown, The Art of Memoir by Mary Karr, and Lessons in Leadership by Rabbi Jonathan Sacks.

September's book was... wait for it... The Jesuit Guide to (Almost Everything) by James Martin. I know, I know, not a super sexy title. But I appreciate Father Martin's Twitter feed a lot, and when this book popped up as a $1.99 Kindle deal, I thought, "Why not?" Though you may have no interest whatsoever in this book, I do encourage you to take a few moments and consider one section I read as I was hurrying on September 29 to finish it by the end of the month (sort of lame, I know).

In the thirteenth chapter, which focuses on discerning purpose in life, be it in work, job, career, vocation and life, these two questions halted my hurried reading:

  1. What should I do?
  2. Who should I be?
The rest of the chapter explores these questions in careful, non-anxious details. These are not pushy "shoulds" here. I loved it.

The author points out that we need to probably discern between our wants and our desires. Huh? Then he quotes a writer named Margaret Silf, who states profoundly, "There are deep desires and there are shallow wants."

The entire chapter of Fr. Martin's book -- heck, the whole thing -- does a much better job than I can here in shaping this conversation, but I was especially struck by some questions given that came, once again, from Margaret Silf. Take a deep breath, turn away from distractions, and consider these:

Is there something you've always wanted to do but never managed?

What are your unfinished dreams?

If you had your life over again, what would you change?

If you only had a few months to live, how would you use the time?

If a significant sum of money came your way, how would you spend it? 

If you were granted three wishes, what would they be?

Is there anyone, or anything, for whom you would literally give your life?

Take time ponder one or more of these questions. The responses you make to yourself -- provided they are honest answers you feel you ought to give -- will be pointers to where your deepest desires are rooted.

Look closely, take time to reflect on what you find. There may be patterns in your desiring that help you more fully understand who you are.

I have decided to reflect on these quarterly (yes, I've put them in my calendar already!). Perhaps you might consider doing the same? 

While much of my work with clients revolves around managing this, leading that, confronting this, strategizing that, I am grateful that I also often end up talking about bigger and deeper things like calling and purpose with people as well, whether they are fresh college graduates or executives preparing for retirement. Can I encourage you to set aside some time soon to reflect on these questions? I did just that last weekend and I am so glad I did. Let me know how it goes.

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