There are many challenges and misconceptions with respect to desire that we must address if we want to live a fulfilling life.
First, we need to understand that there are desires that are healthy, and then there are desires that are unhealthy.
As simple as this may sound, it's actually quite complex, and...
This matters because what we desire can actually be the cause of our destruction.
For example, at face-value, to desire a healthy romantic relationship seems perfectly fine. I mean, can you imagine praying something like this, "Dear Lord, please give me a lying, cheating, lazy, ignorant, and boring partner."
Not very pleasant, right?
However, what if the reason behind the desire for a healthy romantic relationship comes from a place of desperation, neediness, and insecurity?
And what would happen if we were to enter a healthy relationship in that unhealthy state?
Odds are, it wouldn't bode well.
So one thing we're observing here is that there is a timing element with respect to desire; so a short-sighted perspective isn't helpful.
Another challenge we face today with desire is simply being intentional about our desires. It's so easy to get caught-up in the obligations of today; which causes us to lose sight of what we truly desire long-term.
I believe this could be one reason why mid-life crises happen in the first place.
Think about it, you spend the majority of your pre-mid-life years focusing primarily on your daily obligations, from boring work meetings to changing diapers, giving little thought to what your truly desire in life or creating.
Just because you don't focus on your desires doesn't mean that you don't notice their absence from your life. Over time, you'll start to feel a void.
Allowing ourselves to fall into a situation like that is where life starts happening to us, instead of us making life happen. This is a recipe for disaster.
So it's not a huge jump in logic to see how this could give fuel to a mid-life crises.
Side note: Interestingly enough, I have been saying for years now that it seems the trend in married mothers just walking away from their marriages is growing, even though there wasn't any data to support that initially.
Sadly, I ended-up being correct; there is data supporting this now.
When people are not being intentional about their desires for an extending period of time, they end-up feeling so unfulfilled that they instead of making a few life adjustments, they feel the only option is to hit a DELETE button. However, life just doesn't work this way; so they end-up destroying their families lives needlessly.
Mankind also struggles in the realm of desire by desiring things that are shallow and unfulfilling, although they may seem fulfilling.
A great example of this is wealth.
If you amass wealth by living completely contradictory to your personal values, to the extent of harming other individuals and/or yourself, that wealth will be meaningless - and you will still not be content.
That's why you hear many people say that after achieving their goals they experience depression afterwards.
In other words, they were desiring the wrong thing.
However, let's say you had a life desire to help a lot of people, and you decided to do that ethically. Odds are, if you did it the right way, the wealth would follow.
Now you can feel good about living congruent to your values, you'll feel great about helping others, and you'll be happy to have amassed wealth while doing it.
In other words, the wealth isn't the finish line, it's the trophy.
We need to make sure that we're desiring the right thing, and that our pursuit of our desires is done in the right way.
How to pursue our life's desires
Step One: Think about what you desire in life!
If we're caught-up exclusively in our day-to-day obligations; then we aren't being intentional about our life's desires - and are therefore leaving them up to chance.
That's a low-odds scenario.
We must be routinely thinking about our life's desires, because not only is that the first step to making them a reality, but they also evolve over time in many cases.
So it simply make sense to schedule a routine review of what we desire, and what our progress is in pursuing them.
Step Two: Believe that you can have what you desire
If we don't believe that we can have what we desire, then there's very little incentive for us to even try.
This is proven regularly.
Just look at how poverty cascades to generations.
You can't use "the system" as the excuse anymore, because there have been people from every group that have overcome poverty through perspiration, preparation, and perception.
So you have to believe that what you desire is NOT outside the realm of your future reality.
Now sure, there a reasonableness standard to apply here; so let's not get carried away.
One thing we can do whenever we start to doubt the possibility of our desires is journaling. Each time we have a limiting belief, which usually is built on assertions for why something is not possible, we can simply capture that in our journal, and then combat it with reasons for why it IS possible.
Here's a quick example:
"Right now, I'm having the doubt that I can't do what I truly love and am passionate about for a living, because few people make a living doing it. However, although I don't expect it to be easy, or to fall from the sky like manna, there are actually several other people whom are doing what I would like to do for a living - and I don't believe that God loves them more than he loves me. I also don't believe that all of them were silver-spooners or geniuses. Therefore, it is possible for me to do what I love for a living. I just need to find a way to make it happen - and that's on me."
This is very effective.
We are developing the habit of capturing limiting beliefs that only suppress our potential, and we're converting them into hopeful, non-fatalistic beliefs.
End result? Energy, inspiration, motivation.
Step Three: Prioritize your list of desires
Although book titles such as "You can have it all" are very effective at getting you to buy the book, I believe the notions these concepts imply are unfair.
This is simply because (a) if everything is a #1 priority; nothing is and (b) anything worth having does require some kind of sacrifice.
However, I do believe it's helpful for us to have the mentality that we can certainly have what we desire by putting in the amount of work necessary, and one way we can do this is by prioritization.
Think about it this way...
Do you want to die having hundreds of desires and not realizing any of them, or, would it be better to have a prioritized list of 100 desires and die having realized 25 of them?
I think the latter is more beneficial.
So instead of having the idea that we can have absolutely everything we want to an unlimited extent; it's better to believe that by pursuing everything we want in a prioritized manner, we're making the best use of our time, and thus realizing the most desires possible before our clock stops ticking.
And make no mistake, our clock will stop ticking eventually; so let's make the most of every tick!
Step Four: Desire the right things at the right time
As we already discussed, what we desire and when are highly-relevant to effectively pursuing our desires.
We should avoid empty desires, such as:
Getting wealth to lord it over people.
Getting fit to mask low self-esteem.
Getting married to appease co-dependency.
Choosing a certain job because of it's title.
Getting rich without financial literacy.
Having success without putting in the work.
Etc., etc., Etc.
As my dear friend and mentor of mine, Martin Hess, told me years ago:
"Anything worth having doesn't come easy."
We need to stop expecting things to fall out of the sky and at no cost.
And we should be incredibly careful about desiring things that we're not ready for, because they can destroy us.
So here's a couple desire quality control questions we can ask ourselves for our desires in life:
What is the REAL reason I desire this, and this helpful or hurtful?
Am I actually ready to realize this desire now, or is there something I need to do be better prepared for this desire?
Navigating our desires is not as simple as it sounds - and there's actually much more depth to this topic than we have time for in this post, but...
With intentionality, confidence, and wisdom, we can make many of our desires a reality, which lends support to living a much more fulfilling life than just going through the daily motions and waiting for an early/mid/late life crisis.
So with all this being said...
What are you doing today about the things you desire most in life?
J. Patrick Nichols