I Want. What Am I Willing To Do?

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“Knowing is not enough; we must apply. Being willing is not enough; we must do.” 

Leonardo Da Vinci

What do I want and what am I willing to do?

These are powerful questions that make up the internal dialog of those who have embraced intrinsic motivation; the process of identifying and expressing what one most loves. These are questions of courage, exploration and dynamism. Most of us would be surprised to discover just how often instead of asking these questions, we coast through life, operating on autopilot, where unconscious beliefs drive our choices, whether those beliefs are positive or limiting. Why? Most of us have not seen it modeled nor been encouraged to, regularly ask, “What do I want and what am I willing to do about it?”

To be awake or “conscious” means to put aside the past and future and consider in each moment, like an innocent child, “What do I want now?” “And now?” and yet again “how about now?” These questions can be a challenge if we think “I must make the ‘best’ decision, find the ‘right’ answer” or if we assume “I can’t change my mind now – I just committed to this path only yesterday!”

As for the question, “What am I willing to do about it?” we fear to test our commitment or that we won’t follow through with our choices. We have been conditioned to view these questions as a burden or an indication that we’re selfish, fickle and irresponsible. But nothing could be further from the truth; they are the questions of reliable and engaged people – the great scientists, artists, inventors, philosophers, activists – those individuals who have contributed from the core of their being and who are vibrantly alive.

I have begun regularly asking these questions in my life and I am experiencing freedom and joy from my choice to do so moment by moment. Less often I find myself wasting precious energy trying to pre-plan responses to possible future events and spend it instead on being present to what I want in in that instant, knowing I may discover something altogether unexpected around the very next bend in the road. I used to think this was a disconcerting way to live but I find instead that I am more often relaxed in my body, connected to myself and in greater harmony with others.

We are people of passion and we feel in our bodies and hearts what we want if only we pay attention. We hear the small but sure voice within simply through the act of asking these questions, pausing and listening. Then, we return once again to integrity; that state in which all things line up within us. Then, what we feel, think, say and do is congruent. We become like children who know what we want and yet, easily shift direction upon receiving new information or awareness. Children are great at this because they still believe all things are possible, and are free to be flexible and creative.

To live with the questions “What do I want and what am I willing to do?” is to live from freedom. These questions, when asked with sincere curiosity, require us to put down negative judgments and ‘should’s. They require us to awaken to our choices in each moment and to grow in our courage so that we are free to consider or decide our most fitting next steps. Often, this may mean designing a new purpose, method, pathway or role or by taking more risks.

When I hear someone saying, “I must figure out how to handle such and such” or “I wonder what I should do about this or that” or “I have to figure out what I will say when…”, I think how they would greatly help themselves to wait and within each experience, ask, “What do I want now and what am I willing to do?” Then repeat as needed.

This practice leads to joyful spontaneity and the wisdom that can be found nowhere else but in the unique present moment. In this way, the best answers and ideas arrive on an as-needed, just-in-time basis that delights and serves both the individual and the collective community. The opportunity is there to for each of us to discover for him or herself what provokes the greatest enthusiasm and flow, what motivation is there, burning from within. And from that place, each of us can make more powerful choices that transform the world!

As published nationally in the column Emotional Intelligence in the Women’s Journals, Oct/Nov 2007

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