“Whatever your little heart desires.”
When I was growing up and I’d be whining about wanting something (food, toys, to go somewhere, etc.), I remember my parents sarcastically saying that.
Now that I’m adult, you’d think I’d be able to live to whatever my little heart desires…
But if I did that, I’d probably have eaten myself to an unhealthy weight, owning TOO MANY dogs (if that’s a thing), and broke from absurd online shopping.
Instead, I’m fit, run a business, consider myself financially stable, and with one dog (that might be the toughest desire to fight…).
So, it makes me wonder…
How have I curbed my desires?
Am I not living to my heart’s desires?
Am I living unhappily?
Does my life actually suck?
After a lifelong battle fighting food desires, I think I finally have a better understanding on desires, and I believe the things that have led us to an undesirable life (wishing we were further, fitter, or happier) aren’t actually desires at all…
Let’s first dig into WHAT a desire is..
What Is Desire?
Let’s go with the classic and traditional Merriam-Webster definition first:
1) To long, hope, or express a wish for
2) A conscious impulse toward something that promises enjoyment or satisfaction in its attainment.
In a less formal manner, a desire is something you really want.
I’d argue that it’s more than really wanting something.
Think about the child in the store check-out line throwing a MAJOR tantrum and having lost all sense of reason because he or she REALLY wants the candy lining the aisle.
What happens next?
Well, whether the parent gives in or not it rarely takes more than a car ride home to forget about it.
There’s no doubt that child REALLY wanted the candy, but it was forgotten quickly because it wasn’t something he or she NEEDED to have.
I believe a desire goes beyond just hoping for or wanting.
I see desires as something you need to have in order to maintain happiness or satisfaction.
Why Desire Is Problematic?
What’s so wrong with needing to have something to maintain your happiness?
But desires can still be problematic and stop us from living a true life of happiness.
However, I would argue desires aren’t the real problem, at least not true desires.
You see, our desires are in our hearts but as you and I both know, listening to our heart is TOUGH.
The voice of reason from your brain, the pressure and influence of society, hormonal fluctuations, and stress are just some of the things that override the desires inside our heart.
There are so many things we “want,” yet as soon as we get them, they no longer mean anything to us.
How many gifts did you REALLY want for Christmas only to use them once or twice?
Think the entire pizza on Friday night.
Or the bottomless drinks on girl’s night out.
In the moment, we desire every single one of those, but afterwards we’re not really filled with the happiness or satisfaction we expected.
Desires become problematic when we don’t know what our true desires are, and we get wrapped up in our false desires.
How Do We Discover Our Desires?
Okay, so now that we know all the things, we want are not TRUE desires, how do we discover what our true desires are?
I would love to say “listen to your heart” and wrap this blog up; however, if listening to our hearts was that easy, we’d be happy, fit, and living the life of our dreams!
As I mentioned before, what we truly desire becomes clouded and unclear because of societal influences, our brain’s voice of reason, hormonal fluctuations, stress, and a number of other factors.
Listening to our heart is just not that easy!
But I’ve found a framework that helps to uncover your true desires in the simplest manner possible.
Step 1: Awareness
It’s impossible to identify and narrow in your desires without bringing awareness to them.
Awareness requires you to be present and to call awareness to yourself – actions and thoughts.
This means that the first step in building awareness is to recognize that you’re wanting or feeling that you need something.
Quit rushing from one task to the next.
Eliminate distractions and focus on the task at hand.
Once you’ve improved your ability to be present, start to take note of the times and things you want.
In Step 1, you don’t need to separate true and false desires, but you do need to bring awareness to everything you find yourself wanting or needing.
Become aware of those things, and slowly begin to identify patterns.
Step 2: Assessment
Now that you’re aware when you want things and have taken inventory of what you want, now it’s time for an assessment.
This step can be difficult because it requires you to assess which things you need, really want, kind of want, and don’t want but still give to yourself.
Here’s the process I use:
- Make a list of all that you want or need in a day (If you REALLY want to get to the bottom of your desires, do this for an entire week).
- Take note of but eliminate repeats from the list.
- Rank the items from CAN’T LIVE WITHOUT to DON’T NEED AT ALL
- Shorten the list to your Top 5 to 10 Can’t Live Without Items
- Consider those your desires!
Assessment of your desires is no different from any other assessment.
It requires honesty and truth.
It’s challenging to reflect upon and evaluate yourself.
But if you can assess your desires and differentiate the real from false ones, you can live in accordance to your true desires and not live handcuffed by the things you don’t really need or want.
Step 3: Acceptance
Acceptance takes place virtually right alongside the assessment, BUT I might also argue that it’s an ongoing thing.
You must accept that some of the things you’ve been telling yourself you want or need aren’t actually wants or needs at all.
After your assessment you realize you don’t NEED the sugary creamer in your coffee every morning. Now it’s time to accept that you’ll need to find an alternative creamer or take out another desire of yours to include the sugary creamer.
Maybe that end of the day drink isn’t something you truly desire; therefore, it’s time to accept that you don’t REALLY need it and find something else to unwind from your day.
Step 3 is really about accepting that you’re going to have to say ‘no’ at times.
Look, I never said identifying your desires was easy, but constantly saying ‘yes’ to everything you want hasn’t been easy either.
You’ve built awareness.
You’ve made the list.
Now it’s time to live by it and accept that it will take some adjustments.
Step 4: Action
Simple in thought, but difficult in execution.
But you’ve done all the work this far, so now it’s time to TAKE ACTION!
You’ve built awareness, identified your true desires, and accepted that ‘no’ must be a part of your vocabulary, but now it’s time to live it out!
You’re going to be faced with ice cream on a hot summer day.
You’re going to be asked to participate in a boozy girl’s night out.
And dare I say it, but the holidays WILL strike before you know it.
It’s important you recognize your true desires when they approach and go after them!
Yes, that means eat ice cream if you love it!
Have a drink with the girls!
ENJOY the holidays!
But act on it when the time is right, in moderation, and most importantly, love every moment of it.
After all, these are your desires (things you truly want or need), so you need them in your life.
How to Include Our Desires in Our Fat Loss Plans?
The biggest mistake you can make when beginning a fat loss journey is telling yourself that you need to give up everything you desire or love.
STOP THE RESTRICTION!
From a calm and rational thought process, can you ACTUALLY say that restriction will work?
Think of those top few things on your desires list – could you REALLY give those up for life?
I’ve been pretty desperate for fat loss before in my life, but NEVER have I actually thought that I could never eat ice cream again!
So, can these desires be included in without completely destroying your fat loss progress?
Real original, right?
Remember, this life is meant to be lived 85 to 90% clean, and 10 to 15% eating to your desires.
That means plan your desires into your week!
If Friday is family pizza night and that is your highlight of the week, then keep it in your week!
Plan your drinks.
Plan when you’re going to say ‘no’ and stick to the plan and the meals where you’ll let yourself give into your desires.
“But planning is so much work!”
Isn’t it a lot of work living unhappily as you sabotage yourself? You know, starting a diet and breaking it because you give into anything you “want?”
If you desire fat loss and happiness, the No Plan Plan is no longer a plan.
Map out your week.
Include your desires.
Get specific on what you want and when you want it.
It is literally THAT simple.
About The Author
Jordan Davies is the Co-Owner of Complete Performance. Jordan has her B.S. in Exercise Science and Psychology, and her M.A. in Holistic Health Studies. She is a CSCS certified strength and conditioning coach, and a PN-1 and NCI-1 certified nutrition coach. She loves to study how the human body needs to be moved and nourished and making that fit to your unique lifestyle. Click Here Now to Apply for Coaching with Jordan.