What will serve

I once heard Joan Halifax speak about the difference between what we desire and “what will serve.”

Separating the two can be tricky. As a coach and strategist, I tend to start with wants. We can’t see the path forward, and the resources all around us, until we recognize what it is we’re trying to do.

That said, there are times to put our wants aside. To recognize that each situation has its own unique logic. To rise to the occasion or surrender to it, even if the occasion is not to our liking.

Wanting things is okay, as long as we can hold those wants lightly. When a big choice is required, slow down, and try to act congruently with the external reality and your own deepest needs.

Remember that reality is always a safe place to go.

In times of change, here are some “wants” you may want to keep:

  • I want to love as much as I can.
  • I want to maintain a safe space from which I can operate.
  • I want to learn more about myself, even if it’s humbling.
  • I want to abandon clinging.
  • I want to respect my “own exquisite timing” (Jane Siberry).

Here are some “wants” you may want to discard:

  • I want to cling to my current belief, interpretation, judgment, expectation, or story.
  • I want to cling to my preferred personality and style, even if that personality or personal style impedes my success.
  • I want to cling to a vision of myself as morally pure, always right.
  • I want to cling to comfort at the expense of growth.
  • I want to maintain a fixed course for my life, and ignore dynamic realities and possibilities as they unfold.
  • I want to impose my moral views on others without learning their perspectives.
  • I want power without consequences, or else no power at all.