Do you know what you really want? You may have difficulty with this question because the answer is hidden deep within you buried beneath a sea of shoulds.
Most people make decisions about their life and work based on what is generally considered “right” and “good.” What they think they are supposed to do - living from the outside in: letting others people’s expectations rule your life. You do what you do because that’s what you have been told to do. It’s a good recipe for frustration and stress.
When I was just starting out in college, I wanted to be a writer. I loved to read and I loved to write and I thought I’d enjoy life doing that. But, you see, I was 17 and vulnerable at the time to wanting to please. I was in the convent then and my novice mistress asked us to please choose to major in Math or Science if we had the aptitude. And, so I became a Math major. It wasn’t until many years later, while sitting in graduate school getting a Masters in Mathematics from Louisiana State University (that’s another story), that I realized that this was NOT the direction I wanted to pursue any longer. At that time, I was a high school Math teacher – and it was the beginning of one of my many reinventions of myself!
I was reminded of my own story when I read in the original Chicken Soup for the Soul, there is a story about Monty, who was the son of an itinerant horse trainer of little means. During his senior year he was assigned a writing project to describe what he wanted to be when he grew up. His seven-page essay minutely detailed the 200-acre ranch he wanted to own. It included a diagram of the ranch and a detailed floor plan of his 4,000 square foot home.
Despite the passion and effort Monty put into his paper, he received it back with a large “F” written on it and a note to see the teacher after class. The teacher told Monty that the reason he had given him that grade was because his paper was unrealistic. He went on to cite all of the reasons why, and told Monty that if he would rewrite the paper with a more realistic goal, he would reconsider the grade. After considering it for a week, the young man turned in the same paper with no changes, along with the remark, “You can keep the F and I’ll keep my dream.”

How many of us have had the courage to go against what someone else thought we should do in life?

The conclusion of the Monty’s true story has the teacher bringing 30 students for a summer campout at the 200-acre ranch of the now grown (and successful) Monty who lives in his 4,000 square foot dream home.
Ask yourself with EVERYTHING you do – does this make me HAPPY? Or am I doing it because I think someone else will be happy? It’s an important distinction
Recognize that to be happy, you must live the life that you truly want to live. It’s your life and you are the only one who can truly determine what is right for you. There is no tragedy in shooting for your dreams; the tragedy is in looking back on your life and saying “I wish I’d ?”.
We don't focus on getting what we want because somewhere along the way, we decided we don't deserve that much happiness and fulfillment. We cast about looking for anyone else but ourselves to give us direction -- and yet, WE are the only ones who can give us the permission to really, truly, honestly create what we want in life.
We can do what we want, but only if we are brave enough to seize the initiative, even if it means not listening to Mom & Dad and going it alone.
Suzanne Falter-Barns, a creativity expert once said,
“The urge to not provide ourselves with what we need in life is a sort of Creative Anorexia, deprivation that is all about a distorted picture of who we are and what we deserve. The real irony is that seldom do the contingency plans and hedged bets work out.”

Author's Bio: 

Dr. Toni LaMotta has spoken internationally, authored several books and numerous articles and has served as a consultant and trainer to a variety of corporations. Her experiences range from being a high school teacher to working with some of the top companies, associations, and organizations in the world. She served as a Catholic nun and pastoral associate for 16 years before discovering New Thought and becoming a Science of Mind Minister and Law of Attraction teacher. She is an expert at reinventing herself and helping others do the same.

To contact Dr. Toni for a keynote talk or workshops for your organization go to

She is currently living in Sarasota, Florida. Her company, In-Lightened Enterprises, LLC. provides a free Newsletter by going to