“Was this not what you wanted?”
I saw this quote/question posted on a-thousand-words.tumblr.com and I had to stop and think. And, ultimately, the phrase got stuck in my head like a bad 70’s song with a catchy beat.
Ok. Even worse than a bad song … I associate this phrase with a typical incredibly stomach churning feeling. The words “was this not what you wanted?” more often than not creates a angst driven internal churning. Needless to say … not many good feelings get tied to this phrase.
That said. My thoughts crisscrossed between business and Life.
That said. This is the Life version of “was this not what you wanted?”
This can be a question you find asking yourself as you sit alone at the end of a long day, long week, long year.
This can be a question you find yourself actually speaking to someone sitting across the table from you.
Both scenarios suck.
Yet … after some time you don’t really wonder a shitload about the answer to the question itself … you spend more time wondering how you got to where you had to ask the question itself. Not only do you look backwards but inevitably you find that you got it … well .. just backwards.
Somewhere along the way you find that the real things you should have cared about had been filed away as ‘not important enough now’ and you were now refinding them and blowing the dust off of them. And as you re-look at them you wonder why they had been shelved for whatever crap you had focused on instead.
This is one of those times that hindsight is clearer than clear. This is one of those times where hindsight actually reflects some simple truth. The truth is that you shelve what is important because you are chasing something. And in chasing you make decisions that look like you are unburdening some ‘weights’ so that you can get to what you are chasing faster. And, yet, at some point … whether you actually get to what you are chasing or you just get tired of chasing … you notice you hadn’t lessened any burden you had simply shed things you actually need to sustain esteem, happiness & actualization in the chase for what you think you want.
This seems crazy in hindsight. Our blindness to the difference between need and want is sometime stunning and none more so than in everyday Life.
But we all do it <at some point>.
It happens because while ‘in the chase’ you more often than not get to a point where you don’t even know why you want it — you just think you do. And the chase goes on.
Many people start talking about “balance” here.
I will not. Yup. This is actually going to be one of the rare situations in which I will not expound upon balance. Because while I believe balance, in the bigger picture, is the key … in the short view most of us are anything but balanced. Alain de Botton said, “There is no such thing as work-life balance. Everything worth fighting for unbalances your life.”
On this topic, ‘was this not what you wanted’, I am not sure there is a truer statement than what Botton says. When you want something that you have convinced yourself you need … well … there is rarely balance at that point. You are committed, focused and energetically purposeful.
In general, that is actually a good thing.
But. It pays to recognize we suck at discerning between needs & wants and that while you may commit to the ‘what I want’ direction you must keep your head up, your eyes & ears open, and look at options as they naturally occur.
If you do not do that … well … “was this not what you wanted?” is the inevitable question you will speak.
Some people act with unflinching certainty in Life. They say unequivocally they know what they want. And in their eyes “need” and “want” are one and the same. In part I envy them and in part I wonder of in doing so they are neglecting some important things.
I do not know one person who has not faced the stomach churning “was this not what you wanted?” moment at some point on their Life. Not one.
As with most things I would argue that it isn’t about how you got yourself into that situation it is what you actually DO from that point on that matters. I say that because discerning between need & want when it comes to things you care about is sometimes really hard. Like really hard. And you need a ‘come to Jesus’ moment in order to better define it in your head.
But if from that moment on you seek happiness by committing on nothing less than doing your best at whatever you want … and what you need … maybe take some calculated risks on the wants and always ask the hard questions of themselves with regard to the needs … well … you will keep moving forward.
Uhm. That is called “progress.”
I’ve seen your act & I know all the facts.
I’m still in love with who I wish you were.
It aint hard to see who you are underneath,
but I’m still in love with who I wish you were.