What you want to want

Your Game of Life: Explore What You “Want to Want.”

Below is a manuscript snippet that was cut from my second book, “10,000 Hours of Play.” If you like this post, you’ll love my book.

Sometimes, people are too afraid to dream big. We are often limited by our conditioning, upbringing, social circles, and sometimes, even by laziness, to pursue the life we truly desire.

When I ask someone if they want to engage in a demanding activity, like going to the gym for two hours daily, the typical response is, “No, that seems like too much work.” However, when I rephrase it as, “Do you want to want that?” they often come around and say, “Hmm, yeah, I wish I was someone who wanted to do that. Then my life would be so much better.” What they are telling me is that they do care about doing the activity, just on a deeper level.

When we ask ourselves, “What do I want to want?” as opposed to just “What do I want?” we dive deep into what truly matters to us, without thinking about the barriers and excuses. This means stripping away fears and tendencies to avoid loss. Imagine someone saying, “Studying for the LSAT and going to law school is just too hard for someone like me. I’ll just live my life as a freelancer.” But deep inside, they really wish they were the type who had the drive to take the LSAT and become a lawyer.

Conversely, there are students in law school who wish they didn’t care so much about status and money, and instead yearned for a life of freedom as a freelancer. If they were true to their aspirations, they would quit law school and pursue the life they want to want. In the end, while people around you can push you towards what you should want, only you can truly decide what you want to want.

Many people spend years contemplating actions but never taking them, leading to midlife crises filled with regret for missed opportunities. This applies to various life decisions, whether it’s changing careers, starting a company, or pursuing any ambitious goal. Often, it’s not about the immediate desire but about what we wish we had the motivation for, what would bring us a higher sense of purpose and meaning. By asking the right questions, we investigate our true purpose and meaning, pondering what will make us healthier, happier, and free of future regrets.

I personally have a relative who is exceptionally smart and capable, known for his integrity and execution skills. However, he always followed the path laid out by his environment. His father, a military man, taught him to do what his surroundings required him to do. Despite having an extremely successful and respectable career, one day in his fifties, my relative said, “I wish when I was in college, more of my classmates went to study abroad. Because if they did that, I would have studied abroad too.” This statement was quite curious to me, because instead of saying, “I wished I studied abroad,” he indicated that, “I wished my classmates would study abroad.” This is because he knew he wasn’t the type to do proactive things that deviated too much from his environment, but if other people were doing it, he would have done it too. He “wanted” himself to want to study abroad.

This story underscores the importance of understanding what we truly desire, beyond the confines of our immediate environment or perceived limitations. Stop hoping that others would pursue your dreams and bring you along, or hoping that you would one day become someone motivated enough to pursue your dreams. Just go and pursue your dreams! The Game is waiting for you and you alone.

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