You can’t always get what you want. Can you?

A few weeks ago, I was encouraging a client to get specific about what she wanted in her life – to define, really clearly, her vision and purpose.  Because if you’re not clear about what you’re aiming for – your destination, your dream, your desire – how do you choose what step to take next?  You need something against which to evaluate your options and choices, to review what you did and what happened, to keep you moving forward.

My client looked at me for a bit, and then said, “Can I ask you a question?” 

Always a moment for pause, that – you never know what’s coming.  “Of course,” I said. 

“Can I really have it?  My ideal life?  Is it actually possible?”

Big intake of breath.  Great question.  My turn to look at her for a bit, while I pondered not only what answer would be helpful for her but also to examine what I actually, really believe.

What do I believe? 

Life isn’t perfect.  You can’t always have it all, and you can’t always have exactly what you want – because you are not in total control.  You have relationships with people who influence and have a part to play in the choices you make.  You may have limited resources – money, time, skills – and you have existing demands – children, partners, parents, colleagues, the mortgage company – that you can’t just sweep aside or ignore.  You live and work in a community, a town or village, a country, with a government, part of an inter-continental economy, and a global climate.  Stuff happens all around you that you can’t control or influence, you can only respond. 

So you can’t necessarily have your ideal life, the perfect life. 

Can you have something which looks more like your ideal life than you have right now? 

Yes.  If you really want it, and are willing to put effort in, yes, you can.  You start by knowing what it is you want, then you work out what you need to do, or stop doing, in order to make it happen.


And actually, it is that simple.  I don’t mean it’s easy, but conceptually, it’s simple. 

How to get there may not be simple or easy.  And the route to getting our ideal life may be a lot of hard work.  Some of what we want depends on us being able to change ourselves and how we act and interact in the world.  To stop taking self-defeating actions, or those which drive others away.  To start being different – more tolerant, less anxious, more open to opportunities as they unfurl in front of us.  More ambitious.  More (or possibly less) considerate to those around us.  To take small steps, again and again and again, towards what we want, and who we want to be. Sometimes, you can get what you want.