The Aspiration-Driven Life: Part 2 — Finding Your Aspiration5 min read

Aspiration-Driven Life
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If you sometimes find yourself wondering, “What should I focus on next?”, or “How do I find out what my purpose is?”, or “How can I create an exciting vision for myself?”, then this article is for you. In the first article of this series, we covered the obstacles to the aspiration-driven life; in this one, we’ll cover some methods of getting clarity on your core values and aspirations.

There are two types of aspirations: internal and external.

Internal aspirations represent who you want to become—your Aspirational Identity. Examples: “To be calm, confident, and courageous”, “Fully heal myself from trauma”, “Be always present and aware”, “Be the best father and husband I can be”, and “Become enlightened”.

External aspirations are about what you want to do or achieve in one of the areas of life. For example: “To be perfectly healthy and full of energy for as long as I live” (Health) or “Make groundbreaking contributions in the field of sports psychology” (Career) or “Inspire others with music that is original and soulful” (Career) or “Build wealth for my family and future generations” (Finances).

Unlike many other coaches in this space, I don’t think we need to have an aspiration in every area of our life. That might make us feel good, but in pragmatic terms it would be a recipe for confusion and lack of focus. Instead, what I practice and recommend is to have a maximum of three core aspirations in your life: one internal and two external.

Designing Your Aspirational Identity

Your aspirational identity is the person you want to be—the best version of yourself. It’s the expression of your full potential.

There is an infinite number of lines of development for every human being, yet it’s not possible to grow in all of them, or even in several of them, at the same time. Yet this is actually what many growth-oriented people attempt to do—they read one self-help book after another, follow a hundred different authors, participate in several retreats and masterminds, and end up overwhelmed and confused about what they should focus on.

Instead, the approach I suggest is much simpler: choose three words that represent the qualities or states you most want to develop. I call these the Power Words. Here are some examples, from my coaching clients:

  • Calm, Confident, Creative
  • Clear, Empowered, Disciplined
  • Trusting, Accepting, Joyful
  • Competent, Playful, Courageous
  • Carefree, Confident, Loving
  • Fearless, Peaceful, Content
  • Resilient, Selfless, Disciplined
  • Wise, Integrated, Strong

The three words you choose will form the DNA of your Aspirational Identity. This means that your journey of growth and self-transformation in life is now much more focused. It is to develop, embody, and express these qualities. Period.

The process of finding the right Power Words can be quite elaborate and require a considerable amount of self-reflection (and perhaps support). Here are three questions that you can get started with:

  • What qualities do you most admire in others?
  • What virtues or strengths would change your life, if you had them highly developed?
  • Think of your most painful experiences in life, or the emotions you most dislike feeling. Which words express the opposite (the positive state)?

When answering these questions, look beyond the surface. Dig deeper, in search for the value behind the value. And when choosing among variations of a theme, pick the word that feels strongest for you, based on the feelings it evokes—not the dictionary definition.

Choosing Your External Aspirations

Entire books have been written on this topic; and, in Mindful Self-Discipline, we cover five core methods of finding clarity on your aspirations (chapter 7). Here we will just cover a quick exercise to give you a starting point

Think about the different areas of life. Here is how I see them:

  • Health
  • Career
  • Wealth
  • Relationship
  • Lifestyle & Fun
  • Family & Friends
  • Mission & Contribution
  • Growth & Spirituality

Now select the two most important areas for you. Doing this doesn’t mean that the other areas are not important, or won’t get any attention. Don’t feel guilty if you think that Family and Spirituality should be at the top, but actually they are not the type of thing that you are thinking about day and night. Be honest with yourself.

Your external aspirations will be related to these two key areas of your life. They will be an expression of what you most want to experience or achieve in each of those areas, according to your own values and proclivities.

Here are some questions that can help you explore the territory:

  • What do you most think about, desire, and dream about?
  • Fast forward your life 10 years and look back. You are proud of achieving one big thing. What is that?
  • Think about your favorite character from a movie, show, or story. What do you find most exciting about their life and mission?
  • What activities take you to a flow state, where you forget about everything and are 100% engaged, using your core strengths toward a meaningful goal?

These questions require deep thinking. Come back to them often, and give yourself the space you need to fully unfold them.

These questions will reveal the underlying themes that will then be articulated in the form of aspirations, around the most important aspects of your life. Here are some examples of aspirations, to have an idea of how they can be expressed: https://www.highermind.com/aspiration-examples/.

Moving Foward

In this process, please don’t get stuck in analysis paralysis. It will take some time and iterations until you are able to recognize and articulate your deepest aspirations. Know that you don’t need perfect clarity to move forward; at times, further clarity is gained only by taking action, and not by more brainstorming.

In the next article of this series, you will learn how to fully embrace your aspirations, increase your motivation and commitment, translate your aspirations into specific projects (goals), and make space in your life for them, so you can generate momentum.

Exercise

Instead of filling your downtime today with new information or entertainment, take the time to reflect and fine-tune the vision that you have for yourself and for your life. See if you can schedule an hour in your calendar in the next few days to calmly reflect on your aspirations, and thus realign your life to your core values.

Going Deeper

For a more guided and intuitive approach to finding your aspirations, you can try the Deep Longing Meditation which is part of the Mindful Self-Discipline app. Or contact one of our coaches.

Aspiration-Driven Life
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