How to Get What You Want – Part 1

It's really quite simple.  Not easy, not by a long stretch.  But simple, annoyingly simple.

It annoyed me anyway.  Somewhere, somehow, I came to the realization that I was faithfully following the American yuppie rule book.  I was nailing "the agenda."  Good job, nice house, two cars, wife, kids, church membership, everybody healthy.  The trouble was that I couldn't manage to feel fulfilled or contented.

So I set out to fix my life.  Getting off the agenda actually proved to be relatively easy.  It was expensive, and seriously painful; but it was easy.  Quit the job.  Get divorced.  Find some new friends.

Then reality set in.  I didn't have a fresh agenda to replace the one I had discarded.

Possibly the most challenging obstacle on the path to fulfillment and contentment is the requirement to figure out what the heck fulfillment and contentment look like.  Achievement is do-able, but the other two are elusive.  You can test my bold assertion quite easily.  Define those two terms for yourself.

If you can do it easily, I salute your unusual self-awareness.  Stop reading this post immediately.  You've already wasted some valuable time.

I see that you're still reading.  Ha!  I was right – for once anyway.

It appears to me that most people can easily name a particular near-term change that would improve their situation; but they struggle mightily with describing a situation that would qualify as ideal. 

The most common quick fix is money.  Duh.  Close, but probably second is love.  But what if you could live anywhere in the world?  Where would you choose to live?  How would you spend your days?  How would you value yourself?  What sorts of people would surround you?  What relationship would you have with each of them?  How would you dress?  What would you eat?

Too many choices!!  Too many options!!  My head hurts.  Barry Schwartz talks about this in The Paradox of Choice. Jonathan Mead offers help to the most adventurous in Reclaim Your Dreams.

Well, guess what, my friendly entrepreneur.  If you can't figure out what you want, that is precisely what you will get.  If you let your startup business take you where it wants to go, you have a rather slim chance of arriving at the world headquarters of fulfillment and contentment.

One of the most common reasons given for pursuit of entrepreneurship is the need for autonomy, the need to be in charge.  Over and over again, unfortunately, I meet people who have become slaves to the businesses that were supposed to give them freedom.  That's just plain sad.

And I suspect it's because they hadn't figured out where they really intended to go.


This post is an excerpt from How to Get What You Want – Part 1 by Jim Flowers, Executive Director of business acceleration center VT KnowledgeWorks, and author of the blog for entrepreneurs, So you want to launch a business…  It continues with How to Get What You Want – Part 2.

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