Part of the recent Goal Set 2020 workshop involved distilling intent. If we think of a general distillation process, we’re stripping some substance of the extra layers to reveal its essence.

Get to the “heart of the matter,” some may say. “Strip it down to its root,” others might say. Give me “the meat and potatoes,” some others might say! Many ways to say it. 

Desires require this kind of distillation. Because we can have so many and they can run rampant without a proper leash, it serves us to develop the skill for understanding them at their root. Their source question is, “What do I want?” 

Not all desires are equal. Some will fade away if not strong enough, others can lead one astray if given into. Some require transcending. Do a quick scan of the news involving crimes and you can see a pattern: most are committed out of some out-of-control desire. There’s even a name for a category, the “Crime of Passion.”

Others are more life-affirming and serve as the energetic gasoline to ignite our physical engines into actions that nourish us. My desire to create High Art with words is what motivates me to put the fountain pen to paper even when I’m falling asleep. A different desire to explore my bodily capacity through martial arts is the motive for training. Another desire for knowledge motivates me to be relentless with reading and learning. I’m sure you also have your own with differing intensities.

The point is to practice knowing what just one desire is and isolate its root. From that root, we can discover the various [life-affirming] ways to have that desire fulfilled. The process can then be done with other desires.

When we know the root, the “What do I want,” we establish a direction / goal. And with direction, we develop a map. And with the map come all sorts of distractions waiting to tempt us off the path: Detours and suggested shortcuts. Facades and mirages. Also allies and friends. The choice to follow somebody who says they know the map and the choice to go the road less traveled, as Frost would say. 

Practical step to know what you want:

Write an “I want ______________” list. 

This is deceptively simple; write down your wants indiscriminately. Let each I Want become more and more authentic until you begin to notice physiological resistance. It’s this resistance in your body, the hesitation to write it down, that shows you’re reaching a truer, more root desire. If your heart starts beating, if your hand shakes, if you start mentally editing, you know you’re there.

Write that down and contemplate on the Want. Let your day go by while you reflect on it. Let your imagination develop how it would look for you to have or experience it. Your desire can only become practical when you gain comfort in knowing that you can have and are deserving of it. 

Practical Know Thyself 

When it comes to careers, articulating what we know and can do is a necessary skill. It makes sense: we meet people, they don’t know us, yet we need to convey our skill set so they also know it and become network support.

I find this articulation to be challenging for professionals and it’s not always about lack of knowing the skills. Sometimes it’s the actual word choice. To help with this, I recommend taking some personality assessments. Taking one on its own may not be sufficient; I recommend using a few so you receive broad enough analyses and keywords to help sharpen your self-statements. 

Back in undergrad, I took many of them for fun and found them useful for planning how to utilize my skills. Here are a few, including some recent like Human Design and Gene Keys:

  1. — MBTI
  2. – VIA Character Strengths
  3. – Enneagram
  4. – Human Design Type
  5. – Gene Keys Profile
  6. – Love Languages

Discernment: as with all resources that involve trying to tell us specifically who we are, it’s important to utilize them as one tool in combination with your own self-exploration, to see if there’s resonance, something to add or if it doesn’t relate. Enjoy.

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