• Karen

Tell me what you want

In the first two months of 2021, I’ve had a lot of conversations with people about moving on, moving forward, and hoping to find a sense of normality again. And by normal, I think most of us aren’t aiming for 100% predictability, but an escape from the feeling of ongoing crisis. We long to open our news apps and avoid the “What fresh hell is this?” feeling.


All of the months of uncertainty and isolation have given rise to a tidal wave of introspection. We’ve all been forced to examine our relationships—friends, family, neighbors, coworkers. Who did you miss most when ordered to stay home? Who shocked you with their pandemic behavior? Who slipped out of your orbit unnoticed?


We’ve also had to look at our jobs. Did you carry on…after you mastered Zoom? Did you work even harder, performing an essential job that’s part of society’s infrastructure? Did you lose your job or business? Have you learned that you can’t wait to get back to work OR have you discovered that you are on the wrong career path?


As part of these challenging conversations, I’ve suggested to many folks they do a version of the classic coaching “Describe your ideal life” exercise. I’ve been surprised at how many people really struggle with the idea of “What do I want?”*** and I began to wonder what’s behind this. After all, it’s important to know what you want in order to do your best at getting it. Here are some twists on the ideal life, what do you want exercise.


The Covid fallout issue: If you’ve been directly touched by Covid through illness or the death of a loved one, chances are grief (and all its related emotions) are going to be influencing your decision making abilities. It can be hard to create a clear picture of the life you want until you process your feelings and physically recover from a brush with Covid.


The old sunk cost dynamic: You’ve devoted so much time, energy, and resources to the job or life situation you have now. True it’s not what you want, but are you foolish to take a risk and start over? And how late is too late for a fresh new take on life? 30? 40? 50? 60?


Under thinking and Over thinking: Perhaps you haven’t considered your life or career goals for a while. You’ve been humming along nicely. Now the world has changed—everything from how we buy bread to whether or not we can travel. You feel unsettled…and then someone like me says, “Tell me about the life you want” and you’re stumped. OR maybe you’ve done nothing but think about what to do with your life over the past year of lockdowns. Are you living in the best place? Should you look for a different job? If another disaster hit your life, would you want to be in the same circumstances?


So, it’s time.

Time to figure out what you want. Time to take steps to get it.


Now that we’ve all been reminded (again) there are things we cannot control—forces of nature or the behaviors of others—that can upend our lives, we need to get serious about working on the elements we CAN control. We all have hidden strengths and undiscovered talents. This is the moment to unleash them. So, tell me what you want.


***Yes, I have struggled with this over the last year too.



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(c) 2019 Karen Southall Watts