What do you want in life?
I mean, really want in life. Not just a nice car, a house or kids — although those are important and genuinely gratifying things to have. But I am talking about what is the purpose of your life? Have you ever thought of that? It seems that many times we associate this question with having a midlife crisis. People then begin doing things differently because, yes, they start to think about the purpose of all the things they had been chasing for the past 40 years.
But if you have never thought about what you wanted, how can you achieve that goal? It is like forgetting to put the destination on the navigation system or not knowing what to order at Starbucks. Have you ever been in line, and they ask you, “What would you like today?” And you nervously move your feet and hips, tilt your head, put your hand on your chin and start to say, “Hmm, I don’t know. I’m not sure.”
What happens during this time? The cashier gets impatient, he thinks you are a flake, and now the person behind you just cuts in line in front of you. Buying coffee without knowing what you want is sort of a metaphor for life. You know you want something, but you are not sure what it is. Because of your indecision, others may get annoyed by you, then do not take you seriously and literally pass you by while they are on their path to their destination.
If you do not unquestionably know what you want, then how can you accomplish that goal?
What happens if we are not conscious of the true desire or purpose in life?
We just think, “It’s another day. I need to go pick up a cake for the party, I have dinner plans at eight, and I need to be back in time for the babysitter.” We fill up our day with lots of things you “need” or “want” to do that just distract you from having actual time to pause and think about what you want. What is your purpose in life, and how is everything you do allowing you to fulfill that goal?
If you were truly conscious — every decision you made whether to volunteer to head the bake sale, to make plans to have coffee with someone you feel too guilty to say no to or to not value your time to get paid for what you do extra for others or your invisible labor — you would realize a lot of things we do every day can be eliminated.
If you are conscious about what you need to continue your purpose in life, you would not fill it with things that do not serve you. You would not feel any remorse for saying no to anything that was not aligned with your goal. If you are committed to something, you will get there and achieve it without distractions.
The problem is: If we do not know what that purpose truly is, then all day, we will find things that seem noble and good to do, which do not get you closer to that place. You cannot get there because you do not actually know where the destination is.
If your whole life you suppress attaining your true purpose in life because you were distracted or not conscious, then you will live a life of unhappiness, bitterness, and regret.
We have all seen it in stories of older people that told us they “wished they pursued being an artist,” they wished they did so many things differently. But they never tapped into their purpose when they were young. It is once they are older, have more time and fewer distractions that they have the time to be conscious of what their purpose should have been.
So even if you are aware of what your purpose is, why is it so hard to say this is what I want? Why does it feel like such a dirty thing to state your needs?
It is beautifully explained in the book Unbound by Kasia Urbaniak. It explains how we are conditioned since babies that the boys are praised for saying or doing things, but girls praised for being or feeling a certain way. If boys get praise for action, they will always seek action as a default. They will “ask or do” without a second thought. Women will “feel” a certain way about what they want, but they will not ask for it. We are not conditioned.
It is no wonder that in 2020, a Doximity physician compensation report revealed there were no specialties in medicine in which women earned the same or more than men. We can all agree that many things could account for this, including structural barriers and lack of diversity or mentorship. It may also include factors such as women not maximizing billing knowledge, not knowing how to negotiate, not asking for the same or more of what is offered and just not thinking about what they really want. Instead as women, we think of others first, or what others expect of us.
Yes, we know we want the job or the position. But is that position truly, truly, taking you towards your true purpose? Becoming chief of department, manager or CEO, are remarkable goals and should be pursued. But are the pursuits authentic to what you consciously found your purpose is? It is not about what your family thought you should achieve, but about doing something that truly takes you and continues to propel you on your true-life purpose.
If you have not thought about it, then I challenge you to find introspection. Find consciousness and think about your true purpose. Continue to follow its path to experience joy so it will not leave you with regret when you look back.
Find your purpose.
Ask yourself, “What do I really want in life?”
And do it today.
Diana Londoño is a urologist and can be reached at her self-titled site, Dr. Diana Londono, on Twitter @DianaLondonoMD, and on her blog. She is one of the 10 percent of U.S. urologists who are women, and 0.5 percent who are Latina and female.
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