What do you want?


Author —Auteur — Karen Bramhill

Why is it so hard to answer the seemingly simple question, “What do you want?” I ask my six-year-old what she wants, and she immediately replies, “Pasta with red sauce—and cheese. Oh, and a playdate with Zoe, but can we go to the park first?” Simple and straightforward. Her desires cover the present moment and the basics of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. So, why do we lose this clarity as we grow up? Our awareness of possibilities expands, but our ability to give ourselves permission to want them diminishes. It’s as if our dreams get buried under a pile of adulting and societal expectations.

The Importance of a Clear Vision

In the pursuit of a purposeful life, answering this deceptively simple question is where it all begins. What do I want in my career? In my relationships? In my lifestyle? We should have a clear vision in all domains of life. This doesn’t mean it’s etched in stone—of course, it will evolve—but having a vision allows us to move toward something tangible. Here’s the kicker: our brains are wired to respond to clear, positive visions. Neuroscience tells us that when we focus on what we want, our brain creates neural pathways that help us achieve those desires. It’s like having a personal GPS for your dreams.

The Challenge of Dreaming Big

So why is it so hard to let ourselves dream big? Often, people don’t think about what they truly want because they are too busy living up to other people’s expectations—or at least, their interpretations of those expectations. We end up on autopilot, navigating someone else’s roadmap. I worked with a woman who spent 20 years in a career she fell into, never pausing to question what she wanted. She had a good job, it paid well, and she could take care of her family. Dreaming felt irresponsible. It wasn’t until we explored this question together that she allowed herself to dream of owning a yoga studio. She felt stuck and directionless because she wasn’t living her values. Once she uncovered her true desires, she could realign her life with her values and purpose. It’s like flipping a switch—once you see it, you can’t unsee it.

Sometimes people avoid asking themselves what they want because saying it out loud means they might have to do something about it. And yes, that’s scary. The fear of failure, of not being perfect, of what others will think—these are powerful deterrents. “You want to quit your job and pursue a singing career? Are you crazy?” We all have an inner critic ready to shut down our dreams with a heavy dose of “reality.”

We’re often quicker to identify what we don’t want: I don’t want to date a jerk, I don’t want to work 80 hours a week. But here’s the thing about mindset—you attract what you focus on. If you keep thinking, “I don’t want to date a jerk,” guess who’s going to come knocking? When you work with a coach, we frame your desires positively to ensure we’re creating the neural networks that attract what you truly want. Understanding your core values, what’s important to you, and your unique skills helps answer the question, “What do you want?”

Embracing the Unknown

Dreaming big is terrifying—it’s like standing on the edge of a cliff, looking down into the unknown. But if you don’t dream big, you’re guaranteed to stay exactly where you are. It’s by daring to step into that chasm, with all its uncertainties, that you discover what you’re truly capable of. And let me tell you, you’re capable of more than you can imagine.

So, when was the last time you sat down and really thought about what you want? Not what your parents, partner, boss, or society wants for you, but what you want. Give yourself permission to dream as audaciously as my six-year-old dreams about pasta and playdates. Write it down. Say it out loud. Feel the fear and do it anyway.

Navigating Your Dreams with a Coach

And if you’re feeling stuck, that’s where I come in. As a leadership coach, I’m here to help you navigate that chasm, uncover your deepest desires, and create a roadmap to turn those dreams into reality. So, let’s start with that simple, profound question: What do you want?

It’s time to stop living someone else’s life and start living yours. Embrace the dream, the fear, the uncertainty—and watch how your life transforms. You’ve got this, and I’ve got your back. Now, go on and dream big.

Karen Bramhill

Chief Experience Officer

Artist, epidemiologist, operations specialist and true lover of life; Karen is a true polymath that brings a wealth of care and knowledge to every engagement. And for the record, ambiguity and her are not the best of friends.

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