The Intention Habit (The Answer to "I Don't Know What I Want")

Jordan Brown

Do you actually know what you want out of life?

Or at this moment?

"Sure I do, Jordan."

But wait.

If I were to pop through your computer screen and ask you that question right now, would you immediately and confidently know what to say?

Or would it leave you grasping for answers?

Knowing what you want, whether out of life or from a basic interaction with a friend, is a powerful skill.

And it's one you should develop.

Let's talk about how.

"I Don't Know What I Want!"

But first, it can be helpful to know where I started before I figured this all out.

So let's go over a scenario that features yours truly not knowing what he wants.

It's how I operated when I first got into the working world.

Let's say I had a meeting or a call with someone that was important to my work, a call or meeting in which I needed to move some kind of task forward.

Seems simple enough, right?

But what does move a task forward actually mean?

Analyzed in a literal sense, it could mean anything.

It could mean making progress. It could mean make a decision. It could mean literally moving the task physically forward.

And that's the problem with my not clearly defining what I hoped to achieve before I jumped on a call or had a meeting.

By not stopping to think about what I actually wanted from my interaction, literally anything could happen--and I wouldn't be able to tell if it was good or bad.

I wouldn't know if it moved me in a positive direction or if it snapped me back to somewhere worse than where I was when I started.

Over the years, I realized that it was a lack of intention that prevented me from not only making rapid progress with my work goals--but with my happiness and overall mental health as well.

How to Figure Out What You Want

And so let me ask you again:

What do you actually want?

In this moment?

During your day today?

The roots of happiness are grounded in the questions you ask yourself.

Because questions have a subtle power that is only unearthed when you ask them over and over again.

The more questions you ask yourself, the more you build a habit of intention.

The Habit of Intention

This is what I want you to do the next time you are face to face with a situation in which the outcome is not certain--but in which you have a vested interest.

It could be a project at work. It could be who is going to be the one personally responsible for caring for a loved one this week. It doesn't matter what the nature of the task is as long as it meets the above criteria.

This is what you should do.

I want you to stop.

I want you to identify this as a situation in which you have a vested interest and in which the outcome is not certain.

And I want you to start asking yourself questions.

Questions like:

What do I actually want from this?

What do I hope to achieve?

Is this something I should even be involved with in the first place?

If yes, what's my role here?

If no, what would be a better way to handle this?

A habit of intention is not about going through the motions

It's not about living your life in a robotic way.

It's about opening yourself up to possibilities and to the great power you have to choose your way forward.

As you probably know, there is a sort of narrowing effect as you get older. Opportunities seem to condense into a hallway that angles in at the sides the farther you walk down it.

But questions get you out.

Questions remind you that there are doorways to your left and right--and that you may not even be in the right hallway to begin with.

Questions, when all is said and done, are the openings that create the space for your new habit of intention.

So the next time you feel stuck, or don't know what to do, or you simply feel like your life needs a refresh, ask yourself a question.

And then ask another.

At the very least, you'll have a better idea of what you want.

And at the very most, you'll become the kind of person you've been asking about.