Photo by Marvin Meyer on Unsplash

How to Know What You Want and How to Get It

I recently had lunch with a friend and colleague. He’s early in his engineering career, a young father, eager, innocent, and intelligent. He came to me with the same question that most people have: How do I get what I want in life? Some clarifying questions quickly led to an even deeper, but common, question: What do I want?

Most people kind of want a ton of vague things, but they’re not clear about specifically what they actually want and by when they want it. Sometimes clarity is clouded by a belief that what they want is not possible, and sometimes there is a belief that different desires conflict with each other and cannot manifest together. Often, without paying much attention to it, people believe that they can’t have both A and B, and since they want both, they’ll have neither, thank you very much. Without a clear picture of what you want, and without a strong belief that you can have it, you will be continually dissatisfied.

You actually can have both A and B in some way that is satisfying. You actually can have everything that you want, and you deserve to have anything that you can manifest. At the end of our two-hour conversation, he expressed his gratitude to me for providing him with an over-arching strategy for life. Here is a summary of that strategy.

1. Set High-Level Goals

I have a long list of goals that I keep in a spreadsheet and that I review and revise regularly. Sometimes every day, sometimes once per week. I read through them and visualize what it will be like to have achieved each of these goals.

Among the many categories, I have goals for career, finance, family, friendship, health, travel, learning, influence, and home environment. Each goal has a target “achieved by” date. Some of the goals are targeted for completion in the next few months, some in the next few years, others are for decades or even centuries into the future.

Yes, I expect that advances in technology will enable me to live for hundreds or even thousands of years. However, if I die, I assume that I will simply be reincarnated into a super-intelligent, omnipotent and omniscient nanotech mega-swarm.

If you’re not sure what goals to write, just write something. List your wildest dreams. As you will discover, the process of working with your goals is iterative. You have to put a stake into the ground somewhere to begin, and then you will revise and refine, add and delete later.

2. Engage With Life Fully

Once I have set my goals, I just engage fully with life. Each day, I tackle what is in front of me. I notice where my interest and passion is, and I follow it. I let inspiration drive me. I take risks. I reach out to people. I steer away from things that feel unpleasant. I find myself in places and situations that seem to lead naturally to the manifestation of my goals.

Sometimes things seem to go wrong. I experience a rejection, or an apparent setback: something breaks or I feel like I’ve come to a dead-end. When this happens, I trust that the bigger goals are manifesting and that what is happening is somehow creating the most optimal path to those goals.

I notice when I’m trying to strategize my way to the goals, when I’m trying to engineer my way there, instead of letting the intelligence that surrounds and pervades everything take care of it. I notice when I am second-guessing the infinite wisdom of manifest reality by trying to create an alternate imagined reality in my mind that is somehow different.

This is a paradox: we calmly and consciously choose to envision a reality that is different from how things are right now, but then we surrender into the unfolding of reality as-it-is, as it unfolds to take us to that imagined future. We allow reality to do it’s thing, and we stop fighting with it. Whenever we fight with reality we lose. Why would we fight with something that we created anyway. By fighting with reality, we’re affirming that we are not the master of reality. Don’t do that.

3. Come Back to Goals

This is really a cycle back to step one. The whole process is just cycling between step one: set, review, and revise goals and trust that they are manifesting; and step two: surrender fully into reality as-it-is and trust that your goals are manifesting as efficiently as possible. By living in full and deep engagement with life, we begin to discover more nuances about what we really want and what we really don’t want. We can then review and revise our goals with more clarity and conviction. The more we do this, the more calmly and deeply we can choose our desired goals.

In the goal review process, we can also notice our limiting beliefs related to goals, and we can question them and let them go.

Get Started

The sooner you get started with this process, the sooner you will gain increased clarity about what you want and the sooner you will start to see your life adapting to your will.

Additional Resources

Here are some books that I recommend to support you on this journey:

  • The Law of Attraction: The Basics of the Teachings of Abraham. The message that Esther Hicks delivers is very simple and clear. She keeps answering questions about it again and again, and keeps coming back to the basic principles behind the law of attraction. It’s great to be reminded and reminded again to stay focused on what you want.
  • Success Through A Positive Mental Attitude. I was given this book as a gift in my early twenties. I read it many times, and it totally shifted my trajectory in life. I learned to keep my thinking positive and to focus on what I want.
  • The Artist’s Way. You are the creator of your life. Choosing and envisioning how you would like your life and yourself to be in the future is the most profound form of creative expression. You are an artist, and you should take your training seriously. Also, do morning pages every day. Morning pages is explained in the book.

Here is a more detailed article that I wrote about this process:

And here is a video I made shortly after the conversation with my colleague, explaining the above process.



Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store
Duncan Riach

Duncan Riach


Top Writer. Self-Revealing. Mental Health. Success. Fulfillment. Flow. MS Engineering/Technology. PhD Psychology.