What's Next VS What Do You Want: One little word...

“Ask me what’s next in my business,” said my client, after I asked her where to go in our conversation. 

“Okay. When it comes to your business and what’s next from here, what do you want?” 

And then she started to laugh. And laugh. I mean, I know I’m pretty funny, but I was missing the joke. So had she, it turned out.

“What’s so funny?” I asked.

“I just realized I’d been asking myself the wrong question,” she said. “I’ve been asking myself what I needed to do next, and you asked me what I wanted. It’s so simple. That one word changes everything.”

And just like that, intimidation turned to inspiration. Exhaustion to exhilaration. Stress and fear to laughter, to fun. The future seemed inviting and exciting again, instead of overwhelming.

How often do you find yourself struggling under the weight of what you need to do, or all of what you have to do next, and All The Things Omigod?

If you’re like my client, or a lot of people (myself included), the honest answer is probably pretty frequently. 

And, when that happens, how frequently do you remember to connect with the vision of what you want to create (A.K.A. What You Want, or The Thing That Inspired You in the First Place)? 

If you’re like my client, or most humans (also me again), the honest answer is probably, “What vision?” Like a locomotive speeding along the tracks, we can get so caught up in moving forward (A.K.A. What You Need to Do, or All The Things) that we can forget about our destination. 

See, for driven people, inspired by passion or purpose, working hard is kind of a given when it comes to getting things done. You’re used to working hard to achieve your goals. Doing what it takes isn’t the problem. Forgetting what you’re doing it for, however, is basically a brick wall.

Not putting in the effort is hardly the concern, until our survival mechanisms see us heading towards the life we want, and get all triggered, finding/creating an admirable number of obstacles to put in our way. Even the things that move us forward on our way can become barriers in our way, depending on our vantage point. Going for gold can become our albatross, if we’re only staring at all the “going” (all the work) and forget to to keep the gold (our vision) front and centre. 

Think of all those Olympic hopefuls competing down in Rio last month: they are the best athletes on the planet, working ceaselessly in pursuit of the podium. They’re all gunning for gold. They may know their statistics and the likelihood of earning a medal, but being the best is the whole damn point. Training for that deciding moment takes thousands of hours, sweat, fatigue, gruelling training, physiotherapy and sheer grit and determination. 

If Olympians focussed solely on ALL the training and pain and struggle in front of them, and forgot to look at the medal, stopped remembering to visualize themselves waving to their moms proudly from the podium, they might lose a little steam. That’s probably why so few of us become Olympic athletes.

Think of the gym in February. People all know what they’re willing to sweat for after the ball drops, but once they get down to the actual hard work of sweating it out, they drop their visions somewhere after mid January and the cardio equipment gets a whole lot less busy.

How do you keep your what-for front and Centre? No seriously, I'm asking you. I've found writing out a vision is pretty inspiring (I AM a writer, after all), and I like to create a Pinterest board that captures my dreams in gorgeous technicolor. Other people like to post an image on their fridge or bathroom mirror. How do you keep the vision alive?

The hard work is hard, no doubt. And it’s a whole lot harder if you forget why you’re even doing it in the first place.