Some days, I find myself feeling a bit like a Spice Girl about to break into the song, “Wannabe.”  Sadly, I cannot sing to save my life, but seriously if I had to pick one line that bears repeating over and over again it is this: tell me what you want, what you really really want.

It would be so much easier, both professionally and personally, if people would just be more honest about their goals, but I’m not sure that people are always blatantly dishonest– instead, I think the problem is that often we may not be fully aware or honest with ourselves about our true capacities or what will make us happy.

When you are a bit fuzzy, they say process of elimination is a good tactic to implement, and indeed I have often found that it is much easier to figure out what I don’t want versus what I do want.  So for example, I can say for sure that I’m not really looking for a booty call, friends with benefit, spouse within the next 18 months, or a romantic partner that wants to keep his options open.  I guess that is a good start, but it still doesn’t answer the million dollar question I keep getting asked, which is :what do you want?

Professionally and personally the last few years I have questioned a lot of preconceived notions, and it turns out a lot of my assumptions were false.  I don’t actually need to be a partner at a big firm to feel successful, and the big house with a spouse is rather meaningless if it’s not full of happiness.  I have learned that there is a lot that I really don’t need, although 10 years ago I felt completely differently.

The person I was a decade ago is long dead, and to be honest I am still learning a lot about this new and improved version that has risen from those ashes.  If any of this resonates with you, which it might if you’ve just recovered from a divorce or other traumatic/life-altering event, cut yourself some slack.  It is okay to question everything, and to test out your true limits.  You need to explore your options without the blinders that you once had on as you were sleep walking through life.

I say take your time figuring out what will make you truly happy, and remember that you alone get to define your own happiness.  My version of happiness maybe very different from yours, and that is okay.  Meanwhile, no one should be imposing any deadlines on you– you alone control your internal clock.  Who says you have to be married by 30? Have kids by 35? Be partner or have $1Mn net worth by 40?  Those that want to follow the cookie-cutter path set up for us rat-racers are more than welcome to do so, but it’s also okay to be a non-conformist, in fact these days many even think that is way cooler.

We each were born with freewill, and the best part of that is that we can exercise that however we want with whomever we choose to love and let into our lives.  So, enjoy the journey, and try to keep an open-mind on your quest to figuring out what do you really want?

By Regina A. DeMeo