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I can...but do I want to?




If you’re reading this, my guess is you’re a pretty high achieving, go-getter, do-what-it-takes type. You put a capital G on the word “grind” when you need to, and you don’t shy away from hard work. As a general approach to life and the world of work, this has probably served you pretty well!


But have you ever stopped to ask yourself, “I can...but do I want to?”


This is a deceptively simple question. Asking it can change your life. I mean it! There are hundreds, probably thousands of things you CAN do or are capable of doing. But do you really want to do them? What else would you want to do instead? What do you really want to do?


When I ask this question of coaching clients I’m often met with one of two things:

  1. “Oh, I don’t really mind. It’s what I do. It needs to get done, might as well be me.” (or some other variation of those three)

  2. Silence


In either case, we’ve usually touched upon a nerve. With the first set of responses, each of those is actually an evasion tactic. None of those answers that tougher question, “What do you want to do?” Not letting yourself off the hook for doing the deeper work is required if you’re looking to live more authentically and discover more true happiness.


In case #2, I find this often happens because it’s been a long damn time since they genuinely pondered a response to that question.


Asking “What do I want to do?” blows the doors off of so many adopted thought frameworks that we typically never slow down long enough to answer. We make assumptions about how things “have” to be. We say things like, “It is what it is.” We get so busy that we don’t even slow down long enough to remember that asking what we might want is even a valid question in the first place!


It takes courage and intention to ask and answer this question. But exploring it thoughtfully will pay dividends far beyond what many of us ever thought might be possible from one seemingly simple question. The answers may surprise you in their simplicity, or the depth of challenge and required change might blow your mind. An honest answer to “What do I want to do?” might result in some soul-searching and some great depths of action, or you might laugh at the answer you receive.


In any event, asking and answering that question honestly will align you more closely with your truest self. Sure, you might need some courage to take the next step or go for the thing you finally admit to yourself you want, but these indicators of alignment become important beacons moving you forward on the path that’s actually right for you. And THAT type of forward movement will generate more and more goodness and authentic experiences. And remember- you only need to take the tiniest of steps in the direction of your authentic wants. You can babystep your way all the way there if you want- no massive revolutions required. (Unless you’re ready for it - in which case, count me in!)


Once you’ve got your answer ready and your momentum started, watch the magic happen!



Nicole Lance is a women’s leadership development expert, facilitator, executive coach, speaker, strategic planner, and promoter of self-care. She is passionately committed to helping organizations and individuals succeed in reaching - and reaching beyond - their goals. 





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