I’m not sure what it is you want. Some of your wants might be simple or shallow. Others might be deep and lasting. Regardless, the things we want—really want—say something about us.
Do you want to lose weight? Do you want a new car? Do you want a baby? Do you want a more satisfying relationship with your spouse? Do you want to move overseas to work with a non-profit or ministry?
When we pay attention to our wants—when we admit them and prioritize them—we wake up to the realities of ourselves and our life in a way that is really important.
Whatever it is you want—here are a few reasons you might still not have it.
1. You haven’t asked.
There’s a reason “you have not because you ask not” is a cliche. Because very often, it’s true. If you want something you don’t have, check to see if you’ve asked for it before you start complaining that it’s out of your reach. Asking for it might be uncomfortable (and in some cases, it might be inappropriate). But more often than not I would say we’re simply scared to ask.
Asking for what we want means being vulnerable enough to admit our deepest desires, and then being willing to accept when “no” or “not now” is the answer to our question.
2. You aren’t willing to give anything up.
Sometimes we have to give up what we want now for what we want later. Sometimes we have to give up something we don’t want very much in order to get what we desperately want. In other words, sometimes we need to give up chocolate cake today in order to enjoy being in shape tomorrow. Sometimes we have to get rid of clothes we don’t wear before we buy new ones.
I’m surprised how often I’m hesitant to let go of what I have without a promise of something better around the corner.
3. You don’t want what you think you want.
My high school English teacher told our class one day: “I hate those bumper stickers that say, ‘I’d Rather Be Fishing.’ If you’d really rather be fishing, you’d be fishing!” At first, I didn’t understand, but the more years that pass, the more I realize he’s right. Most of the time, I do what I want to do.
Even when I do something that feels uncomfortable (like going to the dentist, or showing up to work when I have a headache) there is something powerful motivating each of my actions. I choose what I do. I do what I want.
If you want to know what you really want, ask yourself how you spend your money, resources and time.
4. You have the wrong view of obstacles.
I think many of us think of obstacles as evidence we’re moving in the wrong direction from what we want. We say things like, “the stars just weren’t aligning” or “I guess God didn’t want me to go that direction.” What if obstacles actually mean we’re going the right way. What if absolutely everything important in life is worth fighting for?
What would it look like for you to stand by the door until it opens? What would it look like for you to approach the obstacle, again and again, until you conquer it?
5. You’re not willing to change what you want.
Sometimes we change what we want, for any number of reasons. Maybe we realize that what we wanted was selfish or unfair, or maybe we discover something better that we didn’t know existed (so we didn’t know we could want it). Don’t be so attached “what you want” that you aren’t willing to change what you want for something better.
When wants become obsessions, we cross a dangerous line where wants become felt “needs” and even getting the thing we want won’t satisfy us as we had hoped.