Do you know what you want?
It’s a question I ask myself on a periodic basis. It’s so easy to get distracted by kids and bills and jobs and relationships… When that happens, I remind myself to focus, and to think carefully about what I’m doing, its relative priority, what purpose it is serving, and whether or not it is something that I want. Not need.
If you don’t know what you want, what you’re striving for, what makes you feel good — how can you increase the probability of achieving it?
If you live entirely based on needs, won’t you be left… well… wanting?
For Me, Pragmatism Is a Must
I balance what I want with pragmatism, and hopefully a variation of pragmatism that doesn’t mean closing doors but rather, being realistic. Understanding that I can’t walk through an open door right now.
I look at where I am and the resources at my disposal, and I consider what I can have.
Here’s an example. One of the things that makes me feel good is writing. I’m in the habit of doing it daily, but there are times when that’s not possible. Instead of fighting that reality — too often my immediate reaction — I’m learning to accept that writing every day may not be “what I can have.”
At least, not now, not without compromising my sleep, not without shortchanging a task that I’m paid for, not without missing a family or personal commitment. That “want” is not something I can have at the moment.
Life After Divorce Tests “Needs vs. Wants”
Life after divorce is an interesting set of challenges. More so for some of us as a result of circumstances as well as nature and personality. For instance, some of us are naturally more resourceful than others (though I believe we all have amazing stores of resourcefulness that we can develop).
An ex may be cooperative in sharing parenting duties and pay child support on time, or not. We may have flexible jobs that enable us to juggle a bit better than our single parent neighbor, or not. We may possess a positive frame of mind that facilitates viewing every obstacle as something we can manage with a little creative problem-solving.
We may have one incredibly sweet and easy child to raise, or a houseful of tweens and teens whom we adore, but who are not sweet and easy at their current stage in development.
We are constantly faced with the onslaught of needs, and the concept of wants may seem to evaporate, with the exception of a basic (and of course, worthwhile) list. We are required to balance, which in itself can be a burden.
What I Might “Want”
I imagine I’m not so different. Here’s an example of my basic list of wants.
- Happy, healthy kids
- No worries about money
- A little “me” time
- A little romance
We may dream of wanting something more, like:
- A new career
- Going back to school
- Getting remarried
- Paying off debt
And we may have to balance the core wants and the “someday” wants with the realities of who and where we are now – what we can have now.
Biting Off More Than You Can Chew? Me, Too
Like most mothers I know (not just single mothers), I imagine myself a sort of superwoman, though I’ve tried to kick that (bad) habit and tell my weary superhero self to take a leap! And yet I see myself saying yes too often, and typically biting off more than I can (reasonably) chew as I sacrifice my own “me” time (and sleep) to get everything done.
The trick, for me, is accepting that constraints don’t mean closed doors forever; that those same constraints may be loosened or lightened next week or next month by a new perspective, a new friend, a new opportunity; that even when the going gets tough, that isn’t “all there is.”
This week, when I realized just how many days it had been since I was able to give myself the pleasure and satisfaction of writing — here and elsewhere — at first, I was saddened. Then I clicked into “balance mode” and reminded myself that there are always times when what we want is not possible. And then it will be again.
The trick is hanging on to that perspective, which includes not giving up every want, but coming to terms with those that may have to wait.
- What Women Want
- The Burden of “Balance”
- When Superwoman Takes a Flying Leap
- Thinking Outside the Box: How to Be Resourceful