Personal Desires

As a follow-up to yesterday’s post on facing personal weaknesses, one step I took to deal with such weaknesses many years ago was to brainstorm a list of qualities I wanted to experience instead of those weaknesses.

Here’s what I came up with back then:

  1. Confidence – holding a strong belief in my own self worth and my abilities
  2. Courage – the willingness to face any fear and conquer it
  3. Passion – love and zest for my life and my work
  4. Gratitude – feeling grateful that I have so many gifts and blessings
  5. Worthiness – feeling that I am a worthy person and that I deserve all my success because I’ve earned it
  6. Generosity – feeling that I always want to give more than I expect to receive
  7. Victory – feeling that I am the best in my field, because I’m willing to give more than anyone else
  8. Intelligence – making smart decisions and benefiting tremendously from the results
  9. Enthusiasm – doing my work with vigor, energy, and passion
  10. Leadership – devoting my life to evolving the planet
  11. Persistence – sticking to a task until it is complete by holding the vision of the goal in mind
  12. Humility – knowing that I must continue to make myself worthy of my success
  13. Growth – becoming a more evolved person
  14. Contribution – changing the world for the better in a significant way
  15. Being the best – consistently outperforming my competition
  16. Patience – being willing to delay gratification for bigger future rewards
  17. Wealth – feeling totally rich, being a financial wizard
  18. Drive – pursuing my goals with energy no matter what
  19. Ambition – visualizing the future as I want it to be
  20. Achievement – achieving my goals one after the other in rapid succession
  21. Success – reaching my goals successfully
  22. Speed – working quickly to accomplish tasks faster than expected
  23. Integrity – being honest with myself, keeping every promise I make
  24. Vitality – experiencing abundant energy to achieve everything I want
  25. Honesty – simplifying my life by always telling the truth
  26. Sacrifice – being willing to do without something in the present in order to achieve a better future
  27. Honor – keeping my word to myself and others
  28. Communication – being able to communicate easily with others, especially on the phone
  29. Spirituality – maintaining a connection to my higher self
  30. Order – being well organized and efficient
  31. Creativity – finding creative solutions to problems
  32. Uniqueness – following a different path from others and expressing my individuality
  33. Management – being good at managing my life and the work of others
  34. Self Esteem – feeling good about myself
  35. Health – living in a state of physical well-being, vitality, and energy
  36. Action-orientation – jumping onto opportunity and acting quickly to take advantage of it
  37. Commitment – finishing tasks that I start
  38. Concentration – being able to work for long periods of time in a state of concentrated effort
  39. Focus – keeping all my attention on the task at hand
  40. Flow – enjoying a state of peace and serenity as I work
  41. Peace – a feeling of oneness with the world and my spiritual self
  42. Faith – belief that everything that happens will turn out for the best and that I am led by a higher source
  43. Abundance – having more than enough for the rest of my life, having quick access to anything I want
  44. Mental toughness – sticking to my goals no matter what obstacles there are
  45. Open-mindedness – a willingness to be open to new opportunities and solutions
  46. Flexibility – the ability to change my approach whenever my current actions aren’t delivering the results
  47. Resourcefulness – using all the resources at my disposal and stretching to accomplish my goals
  48. Power – feeling strong, vital, and in control of my life and my destiny
  49. Responsibility – taking charge of my lot in life, knowing that I am fully responsible for my own situation
  50. Happiness – enjoying my life and maintaining a positive mental outlook
  51. Adventure – living life to the fullest
  52. Mastery – feeling that I am a master of my own destiny
  53. Wonder – feeling a sense of awe
  54. Appreciation – feeling happy for what I have and taking time to stop and enjoy it
  55. Discipline – sticking to my current tasks and goals even when progress is difficult
  56. Curiosity – asking questions to increase my knowledge and identify areas where I want new distinctions
  57. Vision – knowing exactly what I want in life
  58. Clarity – keeping a crystal-clear vision of what I want
  59. Persuasiveness – being able to influence others and persuade them to take actions that will benefit us both
  60. Service – serving the planet by utilizing my greatest talents
  61. Wisdom – making decisions wisely with consideration of their consequences
  62. Strength – having a strong character that others can quickly recognize and relate to
  63. Aggression – a go-getter in active pursuit of my goals
  64. Expert – being a master in my field of interest
  65. Efficiency – working quickly on my highest payoff tasks
  66. Take immediate action – seize opportunity as soon as I find it
  67. Investing – spend less money than I earn, invest the difference, and reinvest the returns
  68. Money is a score – seeing money as my score and working to reach higher and higher scores
  69. Planning – focusing on what I can control and creating plans to make it a reality
  70. Leverage – being able to use things without needing to understand them completely
  71. Seeing success on the other side of frustration – knowing that when frustrated, success is coming soon
  72. Determination – strong commitment to follow through on a plan in order to achieve the goal
  73. Time management – using my time wisely on my highest payoff tasks
  74. Sleeping four hours a night – and awakening with my body fully restored
  75. Love – growing closer to my wife every day
  76. Compassion – caring for other people deeply
  77. Cleanliness – keeping a clean environment, cleaning up on a regular basis
  78. Purity – living a moral, goal-oriented life that is consistent with my highest values
  79. Listening – being able to relate to others effectively by really listening deeply to them
  80. Sensuality – taking time for slow, physical pleasure
  81. Intimacy – a feeling of closeness and knowledge of another’s true self
  82. Warmth – a feeling of connection with others and feeling love towards them
  83. Humor – laughing at the world
  84. Playfulness – maintaining a child-like quality and being able to enjoy the simple things
  85. Loyalty – feeling a strong connection to those who share my path
  86. Stimulating – able to stimulate an open emotional response in others by touching them deeply

I made this list when I was in my 20s. While many of these items still resonate with me today, I estimate that about a third of them don’t, especially the ones related to victory, aggression, competition, and entitlement.

In reviewing this list today, I recognize some strong desire for more control over life, stemming from neediness and frustration. There’s a need to prove myself and to feel worthy. This list shows me why I felt stuck so often in my 20s. These values actually slowed me down.

I often see similar values expressed by people today who are just as stuck and frustrated as I was in my 20s.

Creating such a list was a good place to start though. It helped me take a conscious look at the contents of my desires. Even though my list had some problems, it gave me hope that I could keep making improvements. In the years after I brainstormed this list, I made many changes to my life – new city, new business, new relationship, and new lifestyle.

This lengthy list showed me some genuine desires that I wanted to keep working on, and it also revealed some socially conditioned desires that were actually getting in my way and slowing me down.

Looking back, I feel that I made the fastest progress not so much by focusing on what I wanted but by releasing problematic desires that slowed me down. For instance, I advanced more easily – and faster – through cooperation than competition.

The list above looks overly yang to me now. It’s represents a version of me who believed that more power and aggression was the solution to scarcity in most areas of life, which was actually counter-productive. I made smoother progress when I learned to be kinder and more patient with myself.

Nevertheless, I can still see myself in most of the items on this list. It’s gratifying to recognize that the person I am today can still feel connected to values that I cared about in my 20s. It’s nice to reflect on how much progress I’ve made in aligning with and expressing these values. My 20-something self would likely be surprised by some of the experiences I’ve had.

What’s missing from this list is trust. Today I have a really deep trust in reality. It’s one of my most important values. Unearthing that importance of trust really changed the balance and flow of my life. I lean into this trust when I write, speak, connect with people, and do creative projects. I lacked this trust in my 20s, and I can see how much that lack of trust held me back. I think that’s why my values were so aggressive back then. Since I didn’t trust life, my approach was to control as many aspects of life as I could.

Back then, I thought that the solution to many of my problems was to push harder. But I got much better results when I learned to trust more deeply, especially trusting myself and trusting reality.

Perhaps the most important shift I made since then was to repair that relationship with reality. First I worked through the logic of trust, which helped me see that I couldn’t expect to have a good life without it. Then as that mindset took hold over a period of many years, I invested in building unshakable trust in reality.

Eventually I condensed those years of realizations and experiments into a 60-day deep dive to share with others, which became the Submersion course. It’s great to see how transformational that’s been for others as well. I don’t think we can really understand trust unless we actively test and experiment with it, which is why the course includes 60 days worth of simple experiments to do – and lots and lots of reframes to remove blocks and limiting beliefs.

I encourage you to make a similar list to see what comes out of you. What do you value? What do you care about? What qualities do you wish to develop? Even if you do nothing else with your list, you may appreciate reviewing it a decade or two later to see how much you’ve grown. And such a list will also contain seeds of your future. If you really care about certain values, you’ll probably find ways to express them.

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Read Personal Desires by Steve Pavlina

Steve Pavlina

Steve Pavlina is an American self-help author, motivational speaker and entrepreneur. He is the author of the web site and the book Personal Development for Smart People.

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