“Sometimes, it’s a good idea to figure out what you don’t want and work back from there.”

Clarity is often a hard thing to find. We know we want a great life but what, exactly, does that mean? We know we want to be successful but we don’t always know what that success might look like. Specifically. Of course, we all want an awesome career; we’re just not sure what that awesome career might be. And we know we want to live our purpose but sometimes we’re not really sure what it is. Or where it is.

In the pursuit of success (whatever that means to us as individuals), being driven is not enough. Neither is being hopeful. A motivated and hopeful person without clarity of purpose and direction will be a frustrated and de-motivated person soon enough. It’s hard to get excited about something that we can’t define. Impossible, perhaps.


When we get clear about what we want, we tend to get excited. And when we get excited, we create mental, emotional, creative and physical momentum. And when we ride that wave of momentum, we begin to think, do and create in new and powerful ways. With positive transformation often being the result.

So, that’s all good in theory (I hear you say), but where do we start with the ‘finding clarity’ process?

Ironically, sometimes the place we’re most likely to find clarity is the last place we might think to look. Specifically, identifying the things we don’t want in (and for) our lives; our Anti-Goals. It’s true; sometimes figuring out what we don’t want helps us lift the cerebral and creative fog to discover what we do want.

So, What Don’t You Want?

Here’s a version of a conversation I’ve had many times:

“I want a fulfilling career but I’m totally confused about what I want to do.”
“Okay, let’s identify what you don’t want (in a career) and that might get us a little closer to an answer.”
“Do you want to work in an office environment?”
“Do you want a sedentary job?”
“Well, those two answers eliminate about a million careers!”
“Do you want a nine-to-five type work arrangement?”
“No, I’d like something more flexible.”
“Would you prefer to work indoors or outdoors?”
“Hmm, out.”
“Would you like to interact with people all day?”
“Not so much; I’d prefer animals.”

And so the process goes until we narrow the focus down a few possible careers. It usually takes less time than you might expect and leaves the person feeling significantly more positive, motivated and excited. Clear, even. Of course, we can apply the same technique to almost any aspect of our lives: relationships, financial situation, lifestyle, health, business development, philanthropy… and so on.

So, maybe the smart question for today is:

“What don’t I want?”

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