How To Find What’s Really Important To You

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As early as a year ago, I couldn’t tell you what my life stood for.

I couldn’t tell you my purpose. I couldn’t even tell you what I really, truly wanted.

General things that sounded good to chase after would arise in my speech patterns, but nothing that would really cause me to light up.

If you correlated this back to my actions and behaviors (or lack thereof), the picture became even less clear.

Excuse after excuse after excuse began to pile up as to why I didn’t do this or why I couldn’t do that — and I felt I had a damn good reason for each one, too.

The figurative Venn diagram of myself and others became collapsed unto one and, without recognition, I was steadily living my life for the acceptance of the masses.

You want to get that this wasn’t something I could spot in my rear-view mirror, nor anything I could detect ahead. This was a complete and utter blind spot — in the purest of its form.

I consciously thought that I was following along the path I should be following. I always had a great answer as to what I was up to in life and what the next five to ten years had in store.

But deep down, I knew I was full of shit. I knew I couldn’t shake my anxiety. I knew how painfully uncomfortable I was with uncertainty.


Self-discovery is an inquiry. It starts when we begin to question the why behind every deliberate action we take, as well as the default reactions we often give into.

I leverage much of my writing in the first person because the reality is, many readers are just like I was — unwilling to look for what may be rearing its ugly head.

There is absolutely zero judgment behind this statement. I really get, on a cellular freaking level, what it’s like to not want to feel exposed. To cling on for dear life the shred of belief that we don’t have issues. To hang on to the ebbs and flows of modest contentment.

To not want to give up the good to go for the great.

Some people see their figurative check engine light go on and ignore it. Most, however, don’t even look at the dash.

I’ve been in that fearful position. For the longest time, I refused with every fiber of my being to confront what was stopping me.

The easier and more comfortable solution was simply to drown out this depressive state with what I could feel good about in the short-term, followed by the creating of a logical, evidence-based excuse to prop up my argument.

To put it simply, I wanted to be right more than I wanted to be happy.

I wanted to appear like everyone else appeared to me — having it all together. Being certain. Being sure. Being unafraid.

What a decimating mistake that was.


To truly be happy and complete with yourself, it takes something. And what it takes is not derivative of conventional education and hard work. It’s something of far greater magnitude.

And in actuality, it really shouldn’t seem like that much. But we make it that way.

The resistance known as pride is so severe at times, that it can box us into a corner of thinking it’s worth being miserable on the inside for others to perceive us as happy on the outside.

What it really takes it letting go.

Taken out of context, the knee-jerk reaction to letting go is giving up. And while that’s true in a literal sense, this version of giving up may be the most taxing, soul-defining experience in a person’s life.

When we let go, we actually take something on. We let go of the belief that it’s someone else’s fault we’re so unhappy. We let go of the temptation to focus on how challenging the circumstances may be.

We let go of the cop-out. And in its place, we take on our responsibility for how fucking awesome we are. How we’re able to transform environments and influence others by simply being our best.

By not taking no for an answer. By staying true to what we’re committed to.

I don’t care what anyone else does — quite frankly, it’s none of my business.

Regardless of others’ actions, I decide what I’m going to feel. I decide what I’m going to focus on. I decide what I’m going to be grateful for. I decide the level of compassion and empathy I’m going to adopt.

It’s my life. And you have yours.

We love all the memes about walking away from people that treat us poorly because it lets us off the hook. We don’t take responsibility for what we could truly cause within that relationship if we were being our best.

We’re always cause in the matter to some degree. And power only comes from taking ownership of what we can control — our thinking and our actions.

Let the backlash ensue with whatever it is you may be hung up on but please don’t step over the fact that what you’re hung up on is what’s stealing your fulfillment in life.

Give it up.

Let it go.

Forgive people.

And more importantly, apologize for where you were an asshole.

You’re not perfect — you can always somewhere you’re pretending to be something you’re not.

Once you relinquish what isn’t serving you, you’ll find yourself with a clearing. A blank space for creation. An opening for the manifestation of your greatness.

And I’m as excited as anyone to watch you fulfill your destiny.

It’s yours for the taking — but you can’t have your cake and it, too.

Drop the story about how everyone else sucks and try something else on.

Thank me later. Thought Catalog Logo Mark

Dan Whalen is a franchise operator with College Hunks Hauling Junk & Moving, personal development writer, and NLP master practitioner.

Keep up with Dan on Instagram, Twitter and Website

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