Ep. 161 I don’t know what I want #askanna


In this week’s podcast, Anna addresses the question: what if I don’t know what I want?

The hardest thing, but the most important thing, is to work out what you want. To get clear on what’s really important to you. To design a truly meaningful vision for your life and career. So how on earth do you do that?

*Resources mentioned during the episode*

1:1 coaching and mentoring: If you’re looking for support in getting that all-important clarity on what it is that you want from the next stage of your career, let me help you do just that in an individual coaching programme. www.onestepoutside.com/coaching

I don’t know what I want #askanna


Hello. Hello. And welcome back to my monthly series on Ask Anna.

So this is your chance to ask me any questions you have on the topics I’m covering on the podcast. And you can of course, email me at podcast@onestepoutside.com or you can message me on your favourite social channel, Instagram, LinkedIn, Facebook, wherever we’re connected. And the idea here is that, of course, this podcast is for you, it’s not for me. And I want to really make sure that I’m answering the questions you have. If you have a question, I’m pretty sure we’re guaranteed that somebody else has that exact same question. So I’m so grateful for your insights, your questions, as you hold me accountable to answer and sharing the things that you really want to know about. There are no stupid questions. I know it’s a cliché, but it’s true. So please, please, please email me at podcast@onestepoutside.com or again, message me on your favourite social channel.

So the question today, which I think is an important one and I get it from clients all the time is, what if I don’t know what I want?

So I’ve been talking for the last few weeks about, okay, it’s really important to put the what before the how. It’s: okay, I know you can help me start a business, but do I even want to start a business? I just don’t know what that next step is. I don’t have any ideas. I have too many ideas. I’m getting caught up in that analysis paralysis of all the pros and cons. This one has more work-life balance. That one earns me more money. You know, we’re just getting stuck and also possibly, you might have the blinders on, so that all you can see is right in front of you, rather than the world of possibilities that are out there. So you might have too many ideas. You might not have any ideas. You might not have the right ideas. And if that’s you, then listen up.

Here’s the thing. Secretly, I can almost guarantee, I’m going to say 9 times out of 10 if we’re going to put a number on it, I believe you actually do know what you want. You just don’t want to admit it. You don’t want to own up to it, because it’s too scary, it’s too different to what you’re doing, it’s too vulnerable to admit that secret dream that you’ve had for so long, the creative thought that you’ve had, the belief that you can do something more different. You’re worried about what other people think. You’re getting caught up in the how and you know what you want to do, but you haven’t voiced it. Working with clients, this tends to come out after a few sessions, actually.

So at the beginning, we’re sort of going back to basics and there are all sorts of exercises we can do looking at your values, your core desired feelings from Danielle La Porte, asking lots of powerful questions. So, so many exercises to do and then, bubbling up from within, aha! well, I have this idea… And so deep down, it’s very possible, even likely, that you do know what you want. So let that settle in for you and reflect on is that the case for you? Because if that’s the case, then it is about stripping away the shoulds, the things that you feel like you should do. It’s quieting down that fear of other people’s judgement. Oh, but my parents, or what other people think. You know, I have an amazing job, what will they think if I leave this, or oh my goodness, I’m taking a step back in my career. People will think I’m crazy.

So it’s stripping all that away, shutting out that noise and giving yourself the space, the time to explore, to flush out that idea or those ideas, and to start really seriously considering how you’re going to make this happen, if it’s something you want to make happen, right? So you know what your goal is, you know what that dream is, you know what you want, you just don’t want to admit it, and maybe you don’t believe that it’s possible.

Now, if you really don’t think you do know, if you’re saying no, no, Anna, I don’t know. Then I recommend that you try to get away, get out of your head, travel if you can, even just for the day, for the afternoon, for the weekend, for a week.

I took a three-month sabbatical to South America. I appreciate that might not be possible for you, but do something different. Journal, listen to podcasts. Again, I’ve got lots of exercises I can give you and I’ll give you some in a moment. But try to dig into uncovering that secret dream, because again, you might think you don’t know, but I think deep down, you do know. So really pushing you there.

I really want to challenge you. Ask yourself, if I was guaranteed to succeed, what is it that I’d do, or deep down if I could admit this, nobody’s ever going to find out, nobody’s going to judge me. I could just put this down on a piece of paper. I can just whisper it, and nobody’s ever going to know. Tell me now, what is that dream? What’s the one thing that you really want and that you’re afraid of admitting?

Now, if you really, really, really don’t know what you want, what then? Okay, fine. I get it. If you’re saying no, no, Anna, I really don’t know. I’ve got all these crazy ideas. I just don’t know which horse to back or, oh, I just don’t know, I’ve been doing this for so long, I can’t even begin to imagine what I could do instead, or I’ve got these ideas, but how on earth would you monetize it? I just don’t get it. Then, first of all, you need to be really patient. Give yourself the time and space to find out and that becomes your goal. If you don’t know what your goal is, great. Your goal is to work out where your goal is. That’s your first milestone. Once we’ve done that, then we can do the next thing, right?

So giving yourself time to explore. I always say that’s the first priority.

In fact, even when you do know what you want, I always encourage, and I take my clients through a process of taking that step back, understanding what’s important to you to make sure that that goal that you think is your goal, really is meaningful, that will bring you meaningful success, that will change your life in a powerful, significant way in the way you want it to. So first of all, be patient. Give yourself time. And that’s going to be your goal now, to work out what your goal is. What’s important to you? What do you value? What are your criteria, your parameters for this next stage of your life and career?

Now, secondly, of course there are exercises you can do. And I have specific podcast episodes on this, and of course I have other resources in my programmes.

The first one, if you’re a visual person, is you might want to try vision boarding, and this time of year is a great time to do that. You can grab some cards, paper, big pile of magazines, get the kids involved, if you’ve got kids. Everyone gets some safe scissors, some tape, some glue and, bang on, bang isn’t a very good word, is it? Select and place some keywords, images that really express the feelings you want to feel, the sense, the things that you feel drawn to. My vision boards in the past have had sailing, and sitting on the beach with a beer, and couples holding hands, when I’m was single. And that’s in fact, still, I think probably would be on my vision board. We’ll see when I redo it this year. It initially had specific companies when I first did it back in 2012, 2013 and I think that was a mistake. I think that was too specific.

So it’s more about the feeling, the words that come up for the emotions, the intentions, the imaginary that perhaps captures the freedom, the fun, the joy, the family, whatever it is that that is important to you. So one thing, and this is a fun and creative process, is to do that visually and create a vision board.

Secondly, if you’re more of a verbal person, I’m more of a writer, as you may know. And try journaling. You can some specific exercises. You can set a timer for one minute, three minutes, sit down pen and paper and write, for example, you can say, this is what I want. And just don’t let yourself stop. You say, I want to da, da, da. And I don’t want to put words in your mouth, but it could be anything. You might say, I want to, I think in the past mindset, I want to learn how to sail. So I want to travel to Cuba. I want to feel fit and strong and confident in my body. And I want to meet the love of my life. And I want to run my own business. Just write and write and write and who knows what you’ll uncover. You might ultimately tap into your subconscious, and certainly if you write for long enough, something will come out of there, right? So you can journal like that.

You can also give yourself specific headings. You could do a health and fitness journaling minute. You can do a career minute, to focus yourself even more. So, first of all, vision board, secondly, journaling, and the third thing is a bit more active, I suppose and experiential, is to try something, anything. Try signing up to a course, starting a new hobby, taking a trip, something to get you unstuck, get you out of your current routine, get you out of your current funk if you’re in a funk. Thinking differently, creatively meeting other people, and of course that’s the best way to work out anyway, if something is for you. It doesn’t have to be, I mean, you could try a sewing course. You have no intention of becoming a professional sewer, but it’s just something different to what you’ve been doing before, right? And just trying that thing. Maybe signing up to a Couch to 5K, maybe heading off to the zoo, trying something different, something that you wouldn’t usually do. And getting back to playing the piano if that’s something you did before, to get you out of your current routine and thinking differently.

So try something, it could be something that you have been thinking is something you want to do more of, or it could just be something random that just sounds fun and exiting.

Now my secret exercise number four is to not do an exercise. And this is really key. Again, as a new coach, I used to really bombard my clients with exercises, and perhaps I still do that because there’s so much power. And I love as an academic good girl from school, I really love doing the exercise and I feel like I’m making progress. However, often the biggest insights come when you’re doing nothing. You think you’re doing nothing consciously, but you’re getting out of your head. Put that pen and paper away, put down the exercises, go outside, do some gardening if that’s what you’re into. Go for a run, have a bath. Allow your subconscious thoughts to do the work. That’s when the big insights come, right? So it’s really important to do these exercises and so on, but I’m sure if you’re anything like me, and I’m sure most of us are, you’ve had amazing ideas when you’ve been in the shower or when you’ve been doing the groceries or something.

So I’m constantly having ideas that I need to capture when I’m out doing something else, particularly flying, I’ve always thought was good. It was a while ago now. But flying without Wi-Fi, I’d sit there with a pen and paper, but at least no kind of specific task or anything, and ideas would just flood into my mind. You’d see other people, you’d allow feelings and thoughts and ideas to come to the fore that you wouldn’t necessarily usually be thinking about.

So vision boarding, journaling, trying something new and finally, not doing anything at all, to allow that subconscious to do the work. So again, I know it’s tough. I challenge you to ask yourself, do I secretly know what I want?

Because I think the answer is often yes. If you are feeling stuck, try to put aside other people’s judgement  and think, okay, if I really could do anything again, whispering, if you just want to tell me what is it you’d like to do, and voice it. I’m not saying I’m not going to hold you to it. Certainly you don’t even have to tell me, right? You can just write it down and rip it up. You can just whisper it to yourself. Just try voicing it. And I’ve shared many times, and I shared it just in the last few weeks in episodes.

I actually once shared with a coach, oh, let’s say I wanted to be a best-selling author living by the sea, and I was about to launch into something else. And she called me out and she said, no, hang on Anna, don’t just dismiss that. That is what you want. And I, going, huh. And although I voiced that almost subconsciously as kind of a ha ha ha let’s imagine theoretically that were my goal, I hadn’t articulated as my goal, but ultimately I’ve always wanted to write and I have this longing for the sea.

Now, as I talked about last week, there are ways of breaking those goals down. In fact, now I am a writer. I am an author and I’m living by the sea. Hooray! Maybe it doesn’t look exactly what I thought it looked like, but I have achieved, I have embodied that goal in a really meaningful way. So again, it might come out. You might know, even though you think you don’t know, and if you really don’t know, try to get away from it all, try some of these exercises I’ve given you. And of course, I’ve got much more to share with you, and it is a process I take my clients through. So if you’re feeling really stuck, please do get in touch. You can book a call, of course, as ever, at onestepoutside.com/call. I have some free resources while on the website, onestepoutside.com.

And of course that’s what this is all about. It is getting clear on what you want, on defining what success means for you, finding that meaningful definition that’s going to make a difference for you, and then starting to work on getting closer to that dream.

So I hope that’s helpful. If you really are stuck again, lots more where this came from, so many resources to give you. But as I said, it’s not just about those resources and exercises or someone telling you, there’s a lot of power and magic in not doing anything and just allowing those thoughts to do what they want to do, to meditate, to go for a walk, a run, to do something physical, and allow that subconscious to bubble up to the surface.

Thanks so much for listening and I’ll see next week, which is the final episode of 2021. Thanks so much. Bye for now.

If you’re ready to start to reimagine what success could look like for you, here are some of the ways in which Anna can support you:

Get private mentoring for your business – Partnering with a business coach can help you see those blind spots and get both external accountability and expert guidance to take your business to where you want it to be. www.onestepoutside.com/freeconsultation

Get private career coaching – Individual coaching is fully tailored to your specific goals and desires so we can create the programme that works best for you, with the support that you need to move forwards. www.onestepoutside.com/claritycall

Grab a copy of Leaving the Corporate 9 to 5 – After interviewing 50 people who have left the corporate 9 to 5 to forge their own path, Anna has collected their stories in a book that will inspire you with the possibilities that are out there and reassure you that you’re not alone in looking for an alternative. www.leavingthecorporate9to5.com

Join the One Step Outside the 9 to 5 Business Incubator – This is your roadmap to transitioning from a corporate job into setting up a meaningful business that will bring you more freedom, flexibility and fulfilment outside of the corporate 9 to 5. www.onestepoutside.com/9to5

Level up with The Outsiders Business Accelerator – This is a mastermind for entrepreneurs, freelancers and small business owners who want to create a long-term sustainable brand and business. www.onestepoutside.com/accelerate


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