An Even Better Question (Part 2 of 2)

by | Nov 7, 2017 | Blog Posts, Decision Making, Goal Setting, Uncategorized | 2 comments

I was blown away by all of the conversations I had with people about the last blog. Those conversations have inspired this follow-up entry. (Click here to read What do you WANT?, the first part of this now two-parter.)


I heard this sentence structure several times over the last couple of weeks.

I want to… because I don’t want to…

Sound familiar?

  • Situation 1 — I want to help my friend move (instead of study for my exam) because I don’t want to disappoint them.
  • Situation 2 — I want to chair the committee (even though I can’t focus on figuring out my next career step) because I don’t want to go back on my commitment.
  • Situation 3 — I want to keep dating her (as long as her mom is sick) because I don’t want to add more stress to her life.

When you read those examples, what do you think?

It’s wonderful to want to serve others, to honor our commitments, and to be considerate of other people’s feelings. Those are all great qualities that lead to a lot of good in the world.

However, sometimes we do those things at our own expense (which, more often than not, leads to bitterness, resentment, regret, and other not-fun feelings).

More so, sometimes we can serve at the expense of those we want to help.

It can be hard to see that last part sometimes…

For those of us who love to be of service, it’s key to understand. We think we’re helping, but we’re not.

Despite the best intentions, how might the above scenarios turn out?

  • Situation 1 — You show up tired and anxious to help your friend move. You try to rush through his moving day in order to get home so you can study. You end up tripping down a couple of stairs, dropping a box, and breaking some very special picture frames. It’s not that hard to imagine, is it?
  • Situation 2 — You stay on as committee chair out of obligation, but you’re not your most positive or creative in your work on it. You do what you have to do in order to get things done, and it shows. (Meanwhile, you’re not moving forward on your own goals, which leads to frustration and self-blame.)
  • Situation 3 — You end up dating a woman you know you don’t want to be with for 1 (2, 3, 4, 5…) more years. Her mom passes away. You finally break up with her, adding another major loss to her life. 

Those are very real possibilities of living out “I want to…because I don’t want to…”

Two weeks ago, we talked about “I want to…because” instead of “I need to”, “I should,” or “I have to.”

This week, we’re building on that.

“I want to…because I want…”

It’s a two-part phrase with two “I want…” statements.

Tip: If it’s hard to complete that sentence, try asking yourself what you want to feel.

“I want to…because I want to feel (calm, connected, free, healthy, loved, safe, secure, significant…)”

If you can’t complete “I want to…because…” with a reason or a feeling, think about it.

– Why are you doing it?

– Does it fill you or deplete you?

– How will you feel if you keep doing it?

– Ultimately, are you really being of real service?

Sometimes the greater service is to say “no” and to open the space for someone else to step up and say “yes!”

What if you believed that it’s actually in your (and everyone’s) best interest to do what you want? 

When we do things that are in alignment with what we want, we do them freely and whole-heartedly.

When we do things freely and whole-heartedly, we feel better and can be of even greater service.


Thoughts? Comments? Leave them below.


Sheila Devi is a career transition coach. She helps people figure out what they really want to do. In doing so, they create lives that they love. Win-win.

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  1. Love the post.

    I read this once, I think it was from one of my yoga studios…feels relevant here:

    1. The quality of being honest.
    2. The state of being whole and undivided. synonyms: unity, coherence, togetherness, solidarity.

    When we are healthy and whole we can give more to those we love. Is there a better use of energy than that?”

    • Renee, I love this insight. Thank you for adding the word “integrity” to this conversation! When we speak of integrity, I think it shifts the conversation to something most people actually respect. Yes, we might temporarily disappoint someone by saying “no,” but if we come from a place of integrity, it’s likely we can create understanding about the decision at hand. I’m thinking that decisions that come from a place of integrity are in everyone’s best interest. What do you think about that, Renee?


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