What do you really want?

posted in: Entrepreneurship, How to human | 1

What do you want? Don’t worry, it’s a trick question.

I mean really, really want? Aside from ziga zig ha.

When you ask yourself this, the answer will be layered. What’s virtually certain is that the first answers that come to mind aren’t yet the real ones.

It’s also a question that deserves your full attention – what else would you think about? – and becomes 100 times more interesting after you remove the wankery, compensation, ego, other people’s expectations, instructions and implanted beliefs, cached thoughts – i.e. after you peel off the layers upon layers of stuff that’s not really yours – and find out, often for the first time in life, what it is that actually deeply moves you.

The fact the first answers that come to mind aren’t the real ones doesn’t mean that they aren’t interesting – you just have to dig into them and think hard about why you want that, where did the goal come from, how you really feel about it at the bottom of your heart.

The automatic knee-jerk answers can be – and often are – warped expressions of an underlying truth. It’s a good idea to uncover what is it that’s the functional core of why you want a given thing, because then you can go after that directly, typically in a more cost-effective way.

When you go straight after the fundamentally legitimate heart of what you want instead of some derived version with a ton of superficial fluff that makes it harder and fulfills the intended function only incidentally, you’re much more likely to succeed.


I want to have trillions of dollars.

Good. Why?

With a bit of digging, and washing-off the ego-boost and vanity that being megagigaultrawealthy carries, it turns out I mainly want freedom and independence, having the time and resources to do what I really love doing (which is, more or less, this), and not being subject to the whims and games of assholes.

Well okay, that’s not such a bad thing to aspire to. Now, are there easier and higher-odds ways to achieve that?

Well yeah. I can still aim for the trillions, but I can also probably take concrete steps right now to make myself a little more “exalted”, and place myself beyond the reach of vermin.

Maybe I can delegate some stuff at work, and schedule reading-writing time with the end goal of making a fortune by writing interesting stuff on the internet and giving people eccentric but surprisingly impactful advice. Voilá.

Which may yet produce the trilli…well, at least millions.

The fundamental misalignment with one’s “best place to be” manifests in predictable ways that help make a diagnosis.

Often when people are mysteriously unhappy or restless in life, they are simply fundamentally misaligned with their core, with who they are – with what, for lack of a better word, is their “destiny” – the place in the world that’s the best fit.

Instead, they’re pursuing what their culture and other people – perhaps teachers, parents, peers and quite often oblique competitors who want them to play the wrong game – told them to want.

Not living their own life.

Underperformance is often a passive-aggressive response to being locked into pursuing goals that are not really your own.

It’s also a good idea to differentiate between instrumental and end goals – what you want for its own sake, and what’s merely a means to an end, that you sorta tolerate but kinda hate having to do. Having identified them, are there better ways?


  1. There’s nothing wrong with having preferences of your own, fuck what other people tell you to want.
  2. The first layers of answers that come to mind when you think about what you want in life are typically not yet the real ones, or are skewed expressions of the real ones, and then it’s a good idea to dig down to their core.
  3. Revising what you want is perfectly normal and no brownie points are awarded for consistency with the wrong set of goals.

Man, I’m making a habit of saving your life.

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