Thursday, 2 August 2012


Desire is the key to motivation, but it's determination and commitment to an unrelenting pursuit of your goal - a commitment to excellence - that will enable you to attain the success you seek.
Mario Andretti

What do you want?
What would you like?
What do you need?
What do you desire?

Small innocuous questions aren't they? Bet they've got big resonance for you. Have you noticed the difference in the intensity when you ask yourself these questions?

I find them incredibly useful in goal setting. When you start trying to fill in the columns, you come to realise that the things you thought you wanted...well...those really live on the Like Section, the things you thought you start scratching your head and asking why and as for the things you desire...

How often do you feel desire? Wanton desire? And no, I'm not talking about sex. I am talking about the salivating mouth, churning, got to have/do this thing or you're going to explode! When did you last feel like that?

I bet you felt it when you were a small child, prepared to throw yourself on the floor and scream with the frustration of not having/doing the thing. Hopefully, you were encouraged not to share your emotions in quite such a loud and disruptive manner. Hopefully, you don't do that any more.

But, when you stop and consider, when did you want something that badly in your adult life? Did the fear of disappointment take over? Did you start to think desire was a bad thing because you might not get it? Do you talk yourself out of wanting something because if you get might not live up to your expectations?

Mario Andretti talks about determination and commitment as being key to success, desire being the mere starting point. I'm not sure I agree with him. I think it's desire that feeds and fans the flames of determination and commitment. Because, let's face facts here: Life doesn't always hand you the things you want. Sometimes, in order to get what you desire you have to dig deep into your resources, your determination and get up off the floor to carry on moving  towards your goal. There are shifts along the way to be made, sometimes the path to a goal is a long and winding road. Life may insist on adjustments.

In personal development terms, the safer version of desire is motivation. It's less primitive, more in control. 

But, I'm not sure about this whole control thing either. No, I'm not talking about the control that stops a person from committing mass murder; people, that's a good thing. I'm talking about that part of you that's afraid to let go of safety. There is no safety in nature, there are no guarantees either. So doesn't it boil down to 'Why not?'

What do you think? Tell me your experience of desire (not sex, please. This is *not* that kind of blog) and how did it work out for you? Are you working towards your goal? Did you have to change your plan? What is it like for you?


  1. Not very Buddhist then, are we, madam? It's always been my own experience that the more I wanted something, the less likely I was to get it. But of course I have always wanted — needed, for purposes of demonstrating that I'm not the waste of space the world made me feel for the first 40 years or so — much more than was practical.

  2. Nope. I'm not a Buddhist at all. Though I do embrace quite a lot of the teaching. I've found the concept of attachment to be particularly 'enlightening'.

    A waste of space? I've not seen any evidence of such in our very short acquaintance.

    Personally, I don't think desire is about the practical. But it then becomes a question about who decides what is practical.

  3. Roses, what a profound and interesting post. My opinion on desires/goals/follow-through is that it is helpful to have clear, defined goals and to trace out the many small steps required to achieve them. However, "luck" or whatever you want to call it is sometimes with you or not, regardless of planning, organization and extremely hard work. I also feel that it is important to be flexible and to face facts. For example, if I have a set goal toward which I've been aiming and all of a sudden I find that 1) It will be nearly impossible for whatever reasons or 2) It is no longer as attractive a goal as I once thought it was (again for whatever reasons), or 3) A new, more attractive goal has taken its place, then flexibility would be a sign of intelligence on my part, as opposed to stubborn persistence. I may be wrong?

    Carmen from FB

    1. Hello Carmen and thank you for your thoughts.

      I think you've brought up an interesting point to introduce into the mix - flexibility.

      After all survival of the species doesn't depend on depends on flexibility.

      It is important to not just blindly follow a path. It's important to check in every now and then on your goals and as you say, do a quick sanity check. Desire should never be blind.

  4. I agree flexibility is vital - sometimes we hold on to tightly to the idea of something long past the point of it being useful and still desirable. Desires change just as we change. Personally I think that fear has often held me back form attaining the things I desire - fear of disappointment, fear of rejection, fear that I am not good enough. With counselling and your help I have been working on these issues - often it is ourselves who hold us back.

    1. I think you'll find you aren't alone in this Julia honey. We are often our worst enemies as far as trying to attain our desires. We sabotage our dreams because it's not safe to desire.

      Here's where I always focus on the big, big picture to jolt myself out of ruts. I put myself in this scenario: you're 90 lying on your death bed...what are you happy to regret?

      It's one of the hardest things, to face up to that fear...and you're doing it. One step at a time!

  5. Still working through my Scottish Presbyterian conditioning. We don't do desire. Be careful what you wish for We do misery in bucketloads, and you know what? desire sounds a lot more fun and life affirming

    1. It's not easy shaking off outdated beliefs and conditioning. But just think of all the fun you'll have! All the trouble you'll get into.

      Because ultimately, what's the worst thing that could happen? You don't get what you desire. You don't have it now. No change really. The difference is you'll have had a brilliant time working towards it...had fun along the way.

      I wonder if we've all spent far too long trying to be the Good Girl and squashed our desires and still ended up disappointed. How much better to be fully ourselves and opened to Life?

      (and I am thinking about myself when I say this, by the way)


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