Quite a question, isn’t it?

When was the last time somebody asked you, “What do you want?” I’m not talking about somebody at a restaurant either.

Seriously. Think about it. Can you remember when this wasn’t such a huge question? Can you remember being able to answer it pretty quickly? I think about the answers I used to give to this question, when I asked it of myself. Here are some of them, in no particular order.

1. I want ice cream.
2. I want to kiss a girl.
3. I want a regular family.
4. I want a Big Gulp.
5. I want to have friends.
6. I want something like a normal life.
7. I want my own room.

I could come up with these answers within a second of being asked, some years ago.

Today, I ask myself this question and either its meaning has changed or I’m more of a grownup than I thought. Because now this question is really, “What keeps you up at night? What makes you want to get up in the morning? What excites you? What are you doing all of this for?”

I don’t want a day job where I go into a desk or office every day and contribute to the organization’s goals and mission. But I DO want what that kind of job can do for my family and me. I don’t want a job where I have to manage multiple projects and my responsibilities are significant enough to merit a big salary.

But I absolutely want the peace of mind that a salary like this can bring. And I want that enough that I’m happy and even excited to pursue a career that enables me to manage projects, have high-stakes responsibilities, and be really dang good at what I do.

So I don’t want a really successful day-job career; I want what that career provides for my family and I want the peace of mind that it brings. I want the calm that comes with knowing that my family is in a good place and we are on track with the goals that we have.

This is what keeps me up at night. But it’s ALSO what makes it hard to get up in the morning sometimes, because when I really get to the heart of what excites me- what I’m passionate about- it’s simpler than all of this.

What do I want?

I want to change the world. What does that mean to me? Here, let me tell you:

I want to make the world a better place, a kinder place, a place of increased comfort and happiness and safety for as many people as possible. If my day job does that, I’m excited to get up in the morning and get to it. If my day job is just about money, I feel that in my soul.

I want to brings smiles to people’s faces. I want to move people to emotions that lift and transport them. I want to do this by helping. By loving. By serving. And by writing. I want to write stories that grab people and give them the chance to be with someone who’s trying hard, fighting hard– and by digging deep– is becoming a hero.

I’m vain. I crave validation. I want to get fame and profit from my stories. But at the heart of that desire for fame and profit is the fact that I know that said fame and profit will enable me and my family to do good in this world. One of my fondest dreams is to be able to foster kids. Lots of them. We can’t do that right now; we don’t have the financial ability to do so.

I want the validation for my stories because it can lead to success with my writing– and I just wrote what I want to do with that success. In my deepest heart, my fondest desire for my life’s work (beyond my spiritual journey and destiny) is to make the world a better place.

As a forty-year old husband and father of six, the question of what I want is far different than it used to be. But I need to think about it, really chew on it and focus on the answer. Not just because time’s a-wasting. Because at my stage in life, it’s so easy to get wrapped up in the day to day, the grind, the race. And too often, that day to day leaves a person feeling empty.

But with the right vision for why I do what I do, even the grind can have value. Even the humdrum can bring fulfillment.

So now it’s on you. What do YOU want? What gets you excited? What gets you out of bed in the morning, beyond just your basic responsibilities?