What we think we want is not always what we truly want. Often, there is a deeper desire hidden underneath the surface. When we connect with that driving motivation, it helps guide us more clearly.
The longer I coach and the more people I work with, I’ve realized that most often our root desire is freedom. (The others are either joy or connection. For the purpose of this blog, though, we’ll focus on the most common.)
Take any goal or desire, and ask yourself, “Why? What do I get from that?” until you can’t find another driving motivation beneath the last.
Let’s take money, for example. Often my clients come to me with a goal to make more money. When asked what more money (or a certain goal retirement amount) will get them, their response is “stability” or “security.” When asked what stability or security gives them, they usually respond with some sort of variation of, “the freedom to do whatever I want.”
If I have a client who wants to lose weight, we often find she simply wants to feel confident or accepted. At the root of that is connecting with the freedom to be herself without fearing other’s opinions. Sometimes it’s even finding freedom from her own self-judgment.
Another client wanted to be healthier. What did he think a healthy body would get him? The freedom to do all the activities, and go all the places, he enjoys.
My entrepreneurial clients, who are building their own businesses, are driven by the freedom that enables. They’re free to work on the projects they want to, work with the clients they want to, hire the people they want to, and set their own schedules. They have the freedom to work wherever they want, however they want. That autonomy is much juicier to them than the alternative of working for someone else, who would dictate their time, projects and goals.
Why do people enjoy vacations? Yes, it offers the opportunity to recharge our batteries. It is also a socially acceptable excuse to spend that time completely autonomously.
If you want to lounge all day and dance all night, you have the freedom to do so. You are free to go wherever and do whatever you want (within budget and legal constraints, of course). You are free from household chores, errands, work responsibilities and whatever burdens you carry at home. And if you’re like me, I also give myself the freedom to eat and drink whatever I want because, hey, it’s vacation!
What is it you want? Ask yourself “Why?” Dig into what that thing will give you. Keep asking until you’re at the root cause, your driving motivation. You might surprise yourself where you end up.
Once you find your driving motivation, ask yourself if there are other ways to achieve that right now. Finding that feeling state doesn’t necessarily require reaching big, far-off goals. It can often be found in simpler, quicker ways.
Use this driving motivation as your touchstone for decision making. When deciding between two paths, which one will get you closer to achieving your root desire — whether that be freedom, joy or connection?
I’m curious what you uncover. Please share your experience with this exercise in the comments!