We are often confused about what we really want in life. This happens because of cultural conditioning that convinces us we should want a whole other set of things that will actually never bring us happiness.
It’s critical to have this information about yourself. Why? Because our brains are constantly sorting information. When you know your desired path, you are pulled in that direction. It’s a neuroscientific fact.
But first, you must know what you really really want. There is a method to find that out and a way to get it right now.
An unexpected trip out to Albuquerque, New Mexico last summer left me thinking I might like to live there again one day. My Dad’s health issue resolved and the trip turned out to be just an opportunity for me to visit him and reacquaint myself with the picturesque Southwestern setting of my youth.
When I arrived home to Miami, I stalked the real estate market. Daily alerts from realtor.com left me longing for the mountains etched on the edge of town, cool mornings in the high desert climate, and the slower pace of life. My husband, who’d envisioned retiring near a ski mountain, remained unconvinced. With retirement a way’s off, we could debate it later.
Then, as part of Wayfinder coaching, I learned an exercise called The Ideal Day.* It’s a way to determine what you truly want your life to look and feel like, even the precise location you prefer to live. The questions are designed to engage the right brain, i.e., your intuitive, creative side—not the left side which will only tell you what you should do and none of what brings you true peace and contentment.
To my surprise, Albuquerque was not my dream destination.
This news came as a shock. I didn’t want to move back to Albuquerque? When I think of home, that’s it. It’s the only address I remember from childhood: 1833 Quiet Lane and the only phone number 877-8280. I even had my first kiss behind the spruce tree at Immaculate Conception Church. My very first best friend still lives there along with lots of people who are so special to me.
And then, just last week, on another impromptu trip to New Mexico, came clear confirmation that our creative, connected side really does hold all the answers.
The need for a break from my own unexplained health event brought me back to the place I feel most at home. I indulged in all my favorite things: endless trail runs, sunrise mountain views, old friends, huevos rancheros with extra green chile.
On the third day in Albuquerque, an anxious flutter crept into my body. (It wasn’t all the chile.) With deep breaths and meditation, it stopped for a little while but I couldn’t get rid of it.
And then something interesting happened. On Friday, I drove up to Santa Fe for my last few days. About fifteen minutes out of Albuquerque, the anxiety fluttered away and didn’t return. The familiar but new mountain range ahead gave me a feeling of freedom and expansion.
Because I had trusted my creative brain enough to follow its lead, I had already asked around for a real estate agent up there. I received several recommendations but Lori Montoya was the perfect one out of the 2000 agents in tiny Santa Fe. My Ideal Day exercise had revealed that I really want a mountain home outside Santa Fe with a little casita in which to practice. Running trails to the national forest accessible from the back yard. A home a bit out of town is exactly where I want to be.
The very first home we walked into was IT. Tons of natural light, sweeping views of the Sangre de Cristo mountains, gorgeous finishes. Aside from being just the right balance of Santa Fe and contemporary style, they’d also gone to great expense to take care of the environment. Down the mountain, the owners had built a cistern room for rainwater collection tanks to irrigate their vegetable garden and landscaping. The whole place had been built on top of an enormous rose quartz crystal that filled it with good energy. Seriously.
For the rest of the weekend, I exchanged emails with the realtor for further details and shared them with my husband Mark. As my and I gallery hopped down Canyon Road, toured the Matteucci sculpture garden and took in the majestic mountains from her deck, I fantasized about having a life there.
“Did you put an offer in??” Mark asked, figuring I’d soon be sending for my things.
On my last night, a glorious rainbow lit up the sky. I looked up the sign: new beginnings, impermanence, good luck, equality and peace. I’ll take it!
I arrived home late Sunday night to reports of teenage friends mouthing off to my neighbors, my kids doctor’s appointments scheduled over my standing coaching session and afternoon webinar. All day to day home operations shifted back to me while my husband returned to his tidy, peaceful office. Hard to believe just hours before I’d been crunching along a trail, breathing in mountain air, enjoying the birdsong.
That night, we talked about the house.
“For the price, it doesn’t even have a/c. Or window treatments.” Mark said.
“But it was so cool during the hottest part of the day,” I said.
“Plus, didn’t you want a casita for work? I really was hoping for more land than that. And to be further out of town. Seems like that’s the way to get more for your money.”
I emailed my lovely realtor and the dream house slowly faded to black.
My attitude began to sour. I realized I had some work to do. That afternoon, I scheduled a coaching session for myself. The only way I can be the untroubled space for someone else is to examine my own thinking first.
I described the situation and my coach suggested The Ideal Day exercise. I settled in, took a few deep breaths and she lead me through the questions.
I imagined myself waking up in The Dream House. With no window treatments, the tiniest hint of day break gently woke me up. I tiptoed out of bed not to disturb Mark, grabbed a cozy throw, my journal and favorite pen. A mug and peppermint tea sat out on the kitchen island for quick prep. The enormous windows revealed the sunrise moment to moment. As blue came through, the pink and purple clouds stretched across the horizon. I snuggled on a comfy sofa on the deck outside and took in the slow motion fireworks display. When enough light allowed me to write, I sipped from the steaming mug and completed my morning pages.
My ideal day included healthy food and plenty of time to work, read, write, and rest.
At the end of it, my kids and husband showed up to help prepare dinner, enjoy each other’s company and watch the sunset together. Everyone cooked and cleaned equally. At night, Mark and I had time to read together and go to sleep early.
“What meaning does the sunrise and sunset hold for you?” the coach asked.
“To show up for it means that I make myself available for beauty. That every day I get a chance to do that for myself. It also means that no matter what is going on, there are always beautiful moments. Right now, our life has a lot of angsty teenage energy. It is a hard time but there is also so much beauty in finding out who you are. This will pass too, along with all the other stages of childhood. And soon it will be just Mark and me again. This is our family’s sunrise.”
“What can you do right now that will remind you of what it feels like to have already achieved this life?”
Being in that ideal day felt FREE. It didn’t take me long to think about how to be free in my life today. I want the kids to pitch in more. I don’t want to wait on perfectly capable people. We are already moving in that direction but it would help me to clearly articulate it. I planned to talk to them at dinner that night.
Also, I really do want to show up for the sunrise more. I see it briefly once a week on my long run but I can’t run 8 1/2 miles every morning. I could ride my bike but it got destroyed by the elements when I left it outside our rental during the last home renovation. I’d been wanting to get a new bike for a long time. Riding my bike made me feel free.
As I set the table that night, I thought about what to say to the kids about pitching in.
“If you don’t want to make dinner anymore, we can just all do our own thing,” one kid said with a frown.
It must feel weird when your mom says she wants to stop doing things for you.
“That’s not what I mean. Having dinner together is important. And so is learning to be self-sufficient and making a contribution. The way parents teach that is to first do things for you, then do them with you, then you do them on your own.”
I got some pushback, but they heard me. It will be a process. Asking for what you want isn’t really about the outcome. It is about doing the thing and becoming the sort of person who asks for what she needs. I did it and it felt good.
The next morning, my coaching session cancelled unexpectedly. I took it as a sign that it was time to find a new bike to get me to that sunrise. At Mack Cycle, Ricardo led me straight to The Bike which will be awesome on the nature trail to Matheson Hammock and the mountains of New Mexico. It fit perfectly in my backseat.
Pre-dawn the next day, I was so excited to go see the sunrise on my new bike, that I woke up way too early so I wrote until it was time to go. As I peddled hard down my street in the pre-dawn darkness, the bright light I’d attached to the front lit my way. I felt free. On this bike, I can go anywhere on my own, any day.
The sunrise was glorious.
And this is how you manifest your ideal life. You find the feeling you want, then bring it into your everyday life. I want a beautiful sunrise, to ask for what I want and the freedom and expansiveness that comes from that. I found it here on an average day. And one day in the not too distant future, I’ll have it in Santa Fe.
So. The question is, what do you really want? Take it from me, you are already 100% certain of it.
POWERFUL QUESTION: In the wee hours, what do you yearn for?
**I offer one on one coaching using the Wayfinder Coaching model designed by Martha Beck. If you would like to find out if this work is right for you, email me to schedule a Discovery Session. And if you are family or a friend, I have a wonderful coaching community who are ready to partner with you.
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