After a series of stressful Summer events (detailed more in this post), I found myself struggling with knowing my next steps in life.
It wasn't that I didn't have options or ideas, it was that my brain was also being suppressed by an emotional fog that was a partly protective traumatic response and partly my own personal brand of crazy. I was unable to make choices, even small ones, without my bio computers crashing and leaving me feeling invalid.
To help me get clear, I gave myself a challenge to perform one of the most foundational exercises in Lightyear Leadership - The Power Of Knowing What You Want - every day for 30 days.
I was reading Dr. Caroline Leaf's book Switch On Your Brain, which discusses neural plasticity and using the power of your thinking to alter the structure of your brain. In her book, she uses daily inquiry prompts to explore and disrupt destructive thought patterns in what she calls a Brain Detox.
I decided to combine the Lightyear exercise with the Brain Detox and committed to doing this exercise daily throughout September.
The exercise itself is simple enough. Draw a big circle and put all the things, experiences, and events that you WANT to have inside the circle. Then, write down the things that you DON'T WANT to experience outside of the circle.
It is its simplicity, I think, that makes this exercise so powerful. You can do it in a journal, on a scrap piece of paper, or digitally on a drawing tablet. I was able to do it while traveling (it actually helped my travel!). It's portable, it's practical, and that's what makes it powerful.
The circle then becomes a sacred geometry, showing you where to put your attention. If you put your attention on the items on the inside of the circle, they will grow and expand in your life. If you have your attention on the things on the outside of the boundary, the things you do not want will grow and expand.
This exercise prompts my brain to consider what it is I really want in my life, write or draw it in a way that structures what I want and don't want, and then use that as a focal point for my next actions.
Note that I did this exercise alongside daily journaling, including defining highlights for each day as well as writing down a daily gratitude. Here are five things that I learned from doing The Power Of Knowing What I Want for 30 days.
You're going to want different things at different times. There’s knowing what you want on a physical body level, things like Food, Hydration, Intimacy, Rest, Temperature Control.
There is also mentally knowing what you want. This layer is full of conflicting logic, irrational or programmed behavior (from marketing, etc), and inherited beliefs. There is also a spiritual layer with impulses and drives from the deepest parts of our being.
This one is simple AND powerful: You can't focus on what you want unless you identify it.
What you really want is to be able to focus the light of your presence on what you want more of so that it can grow, like a plant blossoming in the sunlight. Plants turn fertilizer, dirt, water into beautiful growth, but it’s all powered by light.
As I got clearer on the things I wanted, I was more excited about them. I went to sleep and woke up LIT up to move in the direction I wanted to move.
I actually got better at taking the time to discern what it is I want.
Daily, I felt that finding things I wanted and weeding out the not-wants got a little easier.
Additionally, my circles took on illustrative, sketch-note qualities and my drawing got better! I also got better at using Roam, Notion, and Procreate because I was interfacing with them every day.
It all leads back to wanting. To Desire. Halfway through this challenge I was able to ask myself deeper questions like,
"What is it that I want to have/do/experience so much that I decided to incarnate into this world, at this specific time?"
This brings me back to my intention, which was to find what it was I wanted enough that I would choose to live for it daily.
There were many mornings where I would stare at an empty circle and really couldn’t find the drive to want something.
In those moments of really listening in, I found that when I don’t know what I want - what I want is love itself. I could always write the word LOVE inside my circle.
Love is the basis of wanting, the impetus. It can be many different forms of love (going back to insight #1) from romantic to parental/fraternal love, all the way down to the Christ-like Love that he showed for all things.
After a month, I was able to discern what I wanted much easier and with more confidence - even about BIG ticket items in my life like my career and relationships.
To take this even further, I am leading at 30 Day Power Of Knowing What You Want Challenge on Lightyear.co! I will be sharing my process and insights, tips and tricks for every day use, and creating a community of people who are all looking to get clear and confident in their own lives.
This challenge is FREE To Lightyear members, which includes world-class leadership development courses and a forward-facing community that spans the globe.