If you can rattle off your answer to this question by ticking items off on your fingers, good for you! If your response is a blank stare, however, or a shrug of embarrassment, you’re definitely not alone.
Maybe you believe you should know what you want, and you think there’s something wrong with you if you don’t. Maybe you have a vague idea. Or a mental basket you’ve stuffed full of ideas over the years that’s done nothing but accumulate dust.
Maybe the only thing you’re sure about is what you don’t want.
Or maybe there’s something powerful that’s pulling you in a particular direction, but you need a lot more clarity in order to figure out if that’s where you really want to go.
There are plenty of books and courses out there that begin by claiming you really do know what you want. Do they mean to imply that you’re just being stubborn when you insist that you don’t? There are also a few books aimed at helping you figure out what it is you want and then showing you how to get it.
I won’t say the books and courses in the first category don’t have anything to offer, because many of them do. The problem I found with them is that their starting points were premature. I wasn’t there yet. Sure, there were a lot of things I could do and have thought about doing. But I wanted to dig deeper and do some more exploring first.
Books, courses, and workshops that focus on helping you figure out what you want (or want to do) are generally designed to take everyone through the same series of exercises and processes. I don’t like the one-size-fits-all approach for many reasons, but the biggest one is that most people simply don’t follow through. Maybe the exercises are too daunting. Maybe they simply aren’t appropriate for everyone (or for the stage of life a person is in). Maybe as we get older, we tend to rebel at doing homework. Maybe life gets in the way. Sometimes it’s a combination of all those reasons and more.
The upshot is that there are a lot of good ideas, exercises, processes, books, workshops, and courses that already exist. But a year and a half ago, when I was ripe to engage in the process of figuring out what I wanted to do next, I couldn’t find anything that felt like a good fit. I needed to start from the place where I was at right then and there. So I did, making it up as I went along.
I see my path, but I don’t know where it leads.
Not knowing where I’m going is what inspires me to travel it.
–Rosalia de Castro, author and poet
Ultimately, not knowing is the very best possible place to start from. So if you don’t know, but you’d like to and you’re curious, then right now you’re in the perfect place.