This past week I’ve been wondering, what exactly do I want? I’m in the throws of change in just about every area of my life (again) and I have to evaluate my priorities. Perhaps more interestingly though, is that as I am encountering my wants I find it essential to simultaneously assess the wants of others where I’m concerned – things they want for me and from me.

Now, understand – and this is important – I do not under any circumstances believe anyone should change their values and/or priorities in order to acquire their wants. your wants can change, but you’ll find they often share some things in common if your values and priorities remain the same.

It’s important that I note this part because when I tell you that other people want things for me and from me it doesn’t mean that I then change what I want simply because of that they want. I’m glad to consider the wants of others – and, in fact, there is something rewarding about being selfless and giving and compromising…at times. Giving to others can’t be so much a part of your being that you have no life of your own.

Take for instance my mother, who would have loved me to be a lawyer or a politician. I tried desperately to following that dream only to find myself hospitalized, stressed, over-indulgent and overweight. My mom wanted me to live a rich life without money woes and have opportunities that she couldn’t give me in my youth.

Fast forward a few years to me starting over my career, my love life – heck, my whole life late in life and you’ll find me jumping all those hurdles my mom would’ve preferred I avoid.

But, here’s the good news. In all that I have learned a lesson. I have learned that you must decide what you want. In knowing what I want I can look at what others ask of me and determine just how reasonable their requests are. I can decide if this is going to be something feasible or if it’ll be the proverbial straw that breaks the camels back.

Let’s delve a little deeper with my mom.

Several years ago my mother was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. For the bulk of the time she was asymptomatic, showing no signs of illness. However, in the last year she has become increasingly symptomatic with issues prevailing every few days, sometimes lasting weeks at a time.

Now, one would think that I would be willing to take up law, enter some high-profile profession or even turn tricks in some alley to take care of my mom – but I know the detriment in each of those choices. No, instead I understand the importance of helping my mother by doing what works for me, too. The fact is, we spend more time working than doing anything else. To have a job that stresses me, wears me down, and tires me out means that my mother doesn’t get the best emotional support. She may have great health care providers on her team, but she won’t have her cheerleading squad.

Furthermore, doing a job I hate means I’m more likely to burnout and, subsequently, quit! Where will the money come from for her care? If that were to happen she’ll be without a cheerleading squad OR the quality health care to which she had become accustomed.

But, let’s flip the script. Let’s say, I instead choose to work in a job that fulfills me. Perhaps I’m not making mega-bucks, but I feel whole; my Spirit is fed at the end of the day. In this scenario, I’m probably subsidizing a number of my mom’s medical expenses, but I am able to cheer her up and cheer her on.

If I really think about what I want and need, I might not even live in another city, close enough to drive up on weekends and spend time with my mom. I might be working a job where I get to travel, and use that as an excuse to take extended vacations and let my son kick it with his Bibi.

Moving away isn’t exactly what I want, but if it would afford me a greater return in the end it makes sense. In fact, midway through writing this I got another example of just how such a thing works.

I’ve recently been offered an opportunity to interview at Columbia University. Honestly, I wouldn’t be working in my chosen field, which is something I desperately want right now. But, I do realize that the CU alumni, faculty and staff networks are one of the most formidable in the world! Some of the country’s most compelling programs have been designed in CU think tanks. I would be crazy to pass up the opportunity because it isn’t exactly what I’m looking for. Instead, I have to assess my wants and consider that taking this opportunity could mean connecting with the individuals who will help propel my visions into the realm of reality. Regardless, it definitely means that I am part of a network that grants me access to such individuals…whether I meet/collaborate with them or not. Sometimes just having access is all you need. (Think “It’s easier to get a job when you have a job.”)

We all have something like this going on in our lives right now. Trying to weigh out our options and get the most bang for our buck. Well, in order to manifest the beneficial outcome you have to do a total recall.

Remember in the movie how Arnold Schwarzenegger could recall going to Mars even though they never placed the chip in his brain? They’d triggered some repressed memories and before long he could totally recall everything. (Still can’t believe that guy was a governor…what am I saying? His wife was a Kennedy cousin. And if Reagan could be president, right? But, I digress…)

Like Arnold (in my Arnold voice), we have to be willing to allow the upheaval of our innermost thoughts, beliefs and ideals. We have to be willing to surrender old habits and submit to a new way of doing things.

When going after what you want, you have to look closely at why you want these things. Who are you trying to please, what are you hoping to gain? How much of this is about you and how much is for someone else? What’s your motivation and where are you drawing the strength to keep going?

As you investigate these things, you find that what you becomes more vivid, more clear and more tangible. So, take a moment to dig up some things you might have buried down deep. Clean it off and study it, then decide if it goes in the keep pile or the trash heap. Choose wisely, because Where you’re going everyone and everything can’t go with you. And you won’t want them to…trust me, there’s nothing worse about being on top than the long fall to the bottom.

So, take your time; assess, accept, ascend. I look forward to seeing you at the top (and hope you’ll be staying for a while).

Good luck and Namaste.

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