How to figure out what you want?

This is a topic that has been on many peoples minds mainly because we’ve all had much more time to think about our lives over the past few months.

For a lot of people what they want is actually what they think they want because it comes from other people. When you’re constantly being told what you should want and what you should do with your life it’s no wonder you don’t know your own mind.

It’s in the quiet moments where external influences have fallen away that you’ll figure out what you want. It’s like when people say they get their best ideas in the shower. When you’re alone with little distraction, your mind can finally relax and peacefully wander.

One of the biggest distractions in this day and age is social media. You can spend a few hours online and come away thinking you want to create fashion content, be a painter, start a podcast, work in marketing, start a project for your local community, be a graphic designer, start a youtube channel, make music, be a makeup artist, be a textile artist, start a band, be a poet, be an artist and so much more.

Granted you could be interested but when you constantly surround yourself with other peoples stuff it makes it harder to figure out what you want for yourself.

I’ve found that trying new things is invaluable, to be able to say I tried painting and it wasn’t for me but I really like sculpting. So often we try one thing and then get frustrated if it doesn’t work out as though their aren’t over 101 other options for things to try. How are you meant to know what you want if you haven’t tried anything.

Secondly switching off and embracing quite moments is the perfect way to get more in tune with yourself. I’ve found myself most inspired when I’m gazing at the sunset, taking a walk or crafting whilst the sounds of Litany, Montaigne and Hayley Mary drift through the air.

Lastly, give it time.

The problem with pedestaling

Disclaimer: By pedestaling, I just means to put someone on a pedestal.

I’ve noticed quite a lot recently that people put celebrities, popular people, well known people, people they follow online and overall people that they don’t know much about on a pedestal.

They see someone that sings great songs, dresses well, posts pretty pictures, is good looking, writes captivating articles, shares relatable tweets or has some other positive or good quality and then they fill in the blanks convincing themselves they know the person.

They fill in the blanks with ideas of the person being perfect, amazing at everything and faultless. In some cases it’s to the point of idolising them.

So, when this person does something they don’t like, makes a mistake or even doesn’t show up online in the way they think they should, they end up taking it personally and feeling hurt.

But the truth is you didn’t know this person in the first place, you just created this fantasy of who they are in your mind.

What next?

When leading a movement or if you put yourself in a position to be a voice for change, a question to regularly ask is, what next?

What next, when things don’t go to plan?

What next, when people lose motivation?

What next, when you complete one of the things you were working towards?

The road to your destination will be paved with what next over and over again.

If you’re not ready to ask yourself (or be asked) that question and start figuring out an answer, then perhaps you’re not ready to lead.

To lead takes innovation, a strong sense of self, dedication and commitment.

Not everybody is able to hold out their hand and say come this way.

Disrupting the plan

Most people have some kind of plan. Even if it’s just a loose idea of how they would like things to be.

You carry it around with you wherever you go, it influences the choices you make.

You say yes to doing that thing that will help you progress and hopefully make things easier in the long run. You say no to things that are fun, exciting and interesting because you consider them a distraction.

But then sometimes something or someone comes along and disrupts the plans you made.

It could be someone that makes you realise that you’re settling, a listing for an amazing kind of job that you didn’t even know existed or meeting someone that went down a non-traditional route and has managed to make a great life for themselves.

Your eyes become open to the possibilities of life. You realise that the plan you made was created to give you a safe and stable life rather than being something you were truly passionate about.

Consumption and influence

You might be under the impression that the media you consume has no influence over you.

But one day you might find yourself saying, doing or buying something that doesn’t quite feel like you.

For example, on a podcast a woman spoke about how she noticed that when watching a particular reality tv show she was more argumentative.

I think it’s impossible to not be influenced whatsoever and it’s important to be aware of how you’re influenced by the things you consume.

Some examples of the things we consume are: YouTube, blogs, TV, music and social media.

Consumption of those things can influence your career choice, how you spend your money, what you value, your self esteem, how you communicate, the way you view life and so on.

I can openly admit that I’m aware of how I’m influenced by things. An easy example is music because I have playlists for when I’m feeling blue and for when I need a pick me up.

Something I unconsciously started doing from a young age is thinking about the way I want to feel or the kind of person I want to be and consuming things that align with that.

If that’s not something you already do, I think it’s worth a try.

Go with the flow

It’s hard to balance tense and triggered aspects of self with the softer more malleable bits.

My anxiety makes me tense and rigid but it also deeply influences the way I write. But my softer more malleable side deeply influences my writing too.

It is often through writing that my anxieties subside and I am able to go with the flow, follow the words and not worry about the order or things making perfect sense but to instead stay inflow allowing the words to pour.

To be able to follow the flow no matter how brief or specific is something worth cherishing. When you’re tense and rigid or feeling overwhelmed by life it seems impossible that there’s any other way, but there is.

The flow is always there whether you choose that path or not. You can go back to it at any point because the moment you realise that what you’re doing isn’t working or should be different is the moment the solution becomes available.

Things worth passing on

Like books, podcasts, talks etc

If someone asks for a recommendation when your interests aren’t mainstream, it’s easy to hold back. It’s easy to be reluctant to share that local band who are heavily influenced by 80s synth pop.

You might skip over that book you read a while back by a neurologist purely out of curiosity.

That podcast with a spiritual/holistic focus won’t even get a mention.

But I think those things are worth passing on. If you were lucky enough to find something you enjoy that people you’re around might not be aware of, why not tell them about it?

It’s easy to be put off by the thought of blank or uninterested faces.

But at least you were willing to share something about yourself.

Plus, you might even find someone else who is interested in the same things as you.

A writers influences

Whatever is going on in my life will be woven through the words I write.

At times, I’m like a floatie being pulled and swayed in all kinds of directions. But I’m easily influenced and inspired.

From the ages of 16-18 I studied textiles, discovered Seth Godin and read a few books by Dickens.

That trio of things heavily influenced my writing at the time through the language in used. I can see it now but I was also aware of it at the time.

And as time has passed new things have influenced the way I write things like music, nature, relationships etc.

I still have my core style but my choice of words and what I want them to evoke has developed and grown with along with me.

For this blog my writing is heavily inspired by my themes of overcoming fear, self exploration, dream life etc

But I’m also still influenced by Seth Godin after all these years (I’m now in my twenties). I’m also influenced by things that move me emotionally, I’m a feelings person, who has kept a journal for more than a decade so it’s a big part of who I am. I can’t help but let that part of me pour out when I write.

I’d like to think that my influences and inspirations come through but it’s not down to me if they show or not.

That’s for you to decide.

Is it so wrong to be influenced?

People make careers out of their ability to influence others.

There’s whole branches of psychology and sections of NLP about how to influence and sway people in whatever direction you desire.

In fact people have the ability to make us feel as though we desire the very thing they have to offer and we believe it so much that we follow that feeling.

We spend money on things we’ve been influenced to buy. We follow the lives of strangers who influence the way we live our lives, the places we go, the way we dress and the products we use.

And sometimes it all seems calculated and sleazy.

You start to question if you really want anything at all.

But I can’t help but wonder, is it so wrong to be influenced?

I think the answer is no.

Of course if you’re spending all your money trying to be like someone else buying things you have no use for and generally have no sense of self you might need to take a step back.

But if you were influenced to read a book that taught you something new or opened your mind up to a new perspective, I think it’s okay.

Once I started earning enough money to buy my own things I realised that my purchases were heavily influenced by a variety of factors, not just people.

Often it’s about how we want to feel or be perceived and the person we are influenced by is likely to resonate that.

 

A 17 year old walks into a bookshop in Wales…

That’s how the story of how I discovered the person who would become one of my biggest life inspirations begins. This person would go on to help influence the words I wrote, the person I’ve become and the things that I chose to do.

At 17 I liked to think that I was someone who didn’t fall for marketing ploys. I liked to think that I was a girl unswayed by the things that surrounded me.

Mostly because marketing sometimes seemed like you were being tricked into wanting or buying things by people who wanted your money, like a sort of elaborate scam.

I wanted to believe that I was above that sort of thing but I can now admit that the perception I held of myself wasn’t true.

I was wrong.

Wrong because I felt myself pulled to pick up a book called ‘Free Prize Inside’. Turns out there was no actual free prize inside the book but it did change my life which is even better.