What Do You Want?

Lisa Schwaller
3 min readNov 29, 2022
Photo by Rishabh Dharmani on Unsplash

The year is coming to a close.

Many of us are pondering the year. What we’ve created. What we want to create.

Most people use January as a starting line for new (or renewed) dreams.

So let’s use December to connect to desire.

Often, we think about what we want to do and who we want to become.

And sometimes those actions and goals are based on what we genuinely want for ourselves.

But sometimes, our dreams are based in:

  • What we think we should be, do, and have
  • What we think other people expect us to be, do, and have
  • Social conditioning about how people in general should be and behave

The coaching relationship often reveals how much people are operating from conditioned desire instead of genuine desire.

Let’s break it down

Conditioned Desire

Conditioned desire is a phrase to describe the expectations we collect from our culture, our family systems, our peer influences, our personal experiences, etc. These expectations often get written into our minds as wants, pressures, checklists we’re supposed to meet and so on.

This is not inherently negative nor positive. In fact, conditioned desire is totally neutral. It’s our brain doing exactly what it was designed to do — observe important events, react, and then tell ourselves a story about how it affects us.

And the power of coaching is learning your conditioning so you can choose it on purpose instead of just reacting with your reactive brain.

Humans have the power of cognition and decisions so let’s use them!

Genuine Desire

Genuine desire is best described as:

  • Knowing ourselves intimately
  • Knowing what we want for ourselves despite what anyone else says (and I mean anyone!)

It’s common for people to be living their lives and unintentionally making choices from the frame of conditioned desire.

And it’s also common for people to come into awareness of this and want to make changes.

Perhaps a few adjustments are all that’s needed.

And some people want to overhaul their thinking.

Many people will draw a blank when I ask the seemingly simple question, “What do you want?”

Learning Your Genuine Desires

Here is a short but mighty powerful process to parse out conditioned desire from genuine desire:

  • Choose 1 goal or dream
  • Ask yourself, “Why? Why do I want this?” Encourage yourself to list 25 reasons. A list of 25 reasons is not easy and it’s totally worth challenging your mind to deepen your relationship with your “why.”
  • Then ask, “What do I think is available to me when I reach that goal?”
  • Also ask, “What if what I want is available to me today, right now?” (This one is a thinker! But see what your mind offers you.)
  • Finish by asking, “So…with all this information, what do I really, really want?”

One example is weight loss. “I want to lose weight…” could turn into “I want to feel good about myself and make healthy choices for myself on a consistent basis.”

Connecting with your conditioned desires — habits, expectations, preferences — is good work.

Taking the time to surface your genuine desires will change how you set goals, how you treat yourself, and what you think is possible for your life.

How’s that sound as you start dreaming of the new year?

P.S. I invite you to fall in love with the “Less Stress, More Fun” podcast. Subscribe today! Each week’s episodes offer smart, fun ideas to reduce stress and boost your sense of playfulness.