To Figure Out What You Want, Figure Out Who You Are

*Our 25 Days of Lent Series Is Over, but Check Back for More Series in the Future!

A simple Google search will pull up thousands of websites helping you figure out exactly what you want out of life.

Is it a new career? A move to another city? A husband? Children? All of it?

Are you conflicted about what it is you want? For instance, are you a go-getter who wants to make a lot of money, yet you love staying home with the kids? Or a land-lover who enjoys living in a neighborhood?

How do you figure out what you want when there are too many choices around you?

But in order to figure out what you want, you must first figure out who you are.

And in who you are, lies your value system–what you find important in life.

But being sure of what you value can be a difficult task–why?

Because many of us are not living authentic lives.

When I was young, my life was chaotic. I had a very normal childhood until the age of nine or so, when my father connected us to an Evangelical Church and our entire family fell apart.

I don’t blame the Evangelical Church on its own. My father’s personality is one of all or nothing, black or white, and he took the tenets of strict evangelical faith–that he believed honored God–and ran with them.

As a result of my family’s break up, I became insecure, anxious and bitter.

Whereas I’d been a happy, carefree little girl, after my parents’ divorce, I grew up too fast, made poor decisions, and lived in utter confusion as to what I wanted.

Around the age of 33, I grew conscious that I was living the same life over and over again, year after year, and it wasn’t my life I was living.

I wasn’t the person I wanted to be, nor was anything I had in my life really anything I wanted, other than my children.

My relationship with my spouse was awful, I hated my job, I didn’t care for the way I dressed, and my friendships weren’t great.

I felt far from my Creator and ungrateful for what I’d been given.

Worst of all, I didn’t know who I was or what I even wanted out of life in the first place. Who I was before children wasn’t who I was twelve years later, but I didn’t know who either one of those people were in the first place.

After realizing I needed to figure my life out, I slowly (very, very slowly) started making tweaks. They were tiny changes, but they began to create huge change.

I knew deep down that if I wanted to truly live a life of my choosing, I had to first figure out who I was and what I wanted.

How to figure out who you are and what you want:

1.Go back in time to remember what you loved before the world told you not to.

What did you love as a child? When I was a little girl, I loved to dance. Performing for others wasn’t about them, it was about me losing myself in my love of dance, music and costume.

I loved to decorate. I could look at house magazines for hours and change my bedroom a thousand different ways.

I pretended to be a writer. I created a whole magazine on my own in junior high. I loved to read and write and gobbled up books daily.

I was a fashion guru. Now, we didn’t have money, but I could put an outfit together in a heartbeat whenever I got a little bit of money to spend.

Outdoors was my favorite place to be. Riding my bike, climbing trees, watching a sunset and looking up at the stars made me feel closest to God.

There was a time you loved something before you thought you couldn’t. Go back and find those little things you enjoyed. They will tell you who you are.

2. Be fearless in your pursuit of contentment, not happiness.

Happiness should never be a goal. It’s way too volatile to make our Ebenezer.

Instead, we should set our eyes on contentment, learning to love what we have while growing what we want.

In a season of deep depression in my early thirties, I kept longing for happiness. “I’m not happy,” became my life’s motto, and it colored every experience I had, wringing out any chance for true joy.

Frankly, I got tired of being unhappy. I looked for all the reasons I had to be grateful, and I started writing them down. Beside them, I would list the ways the things I currently had could bring me to the things I wanted. If something in my life wasn’t going to lead me to a future I wanted, it had to go.

Alcohol, certain friendships, eating for distraction, following a handful of Christian thought leaders who weren’t bearing good fruit, even familial relationships needed to be discarded or at the very least, distanced.

3. Remember that resting is just as important as working.

We can soar on such great highs when we’re in a season of life progress that we feel guilty when we take time to rest.

But self-care is crucial–if God himself took a day of rest, how prideful of us to think we don’t need it?

Rest isn’t just an emotional help, it’s a physiological one, too. Many of our body systems need rest to function properly.

If we don’t take time out for ourselves, time to do nothing but soak in a tub, listen to good music, or sit outside with nothing but a sunset and a cup of tea.

How well we rest is a good indicator of how well we’ve figured out who we are.

We can only truly rest when we feel we’re closest to authenticity. Otherwise, the wheels in our head will keep spinning as we keep flying from one belief to the next, one behavior to the next, one broken dream to the next.

4. Don’t be afraid to lose.

You will fall. You will lose. You will survive.

Friendships will go as you grow closer to who you really are. These weren’t real. The real friends stay with you no matter what, and, even if you don’t talk every single day, you know your friend is there for you and one phone call away.

A job might end. The hardest lesson I learned in changing who I was, was knowing that I’d chosen a career for all the wrong reasons. Years I’d spent working a job that wasn’t even meant for me because I didn’t know better left me angry, bitter and discontent.

Your marriage might suffer, or, God forbid, end. Sometimes we have changed so much that the person looking back at us in the mirror is no one we’ve known before. This can be too much for a spouse to endure sometimes. While I never advocate breaking up a family, if the two of you are able to make peace, it’s often the most compassionate choice for all involved (note that I said “if you are able to make peace”).

5. Know that you won’t change overnight.

You didn’t get to where you landed in a day, and you won’t change overnight.

Every day, you’ll learn something more about yourself, and this is where you’ll come to know your values.

For example, I thought I wanted to move to the country. I love being outdoors, and I wanted land and water and privacy.

But then I remembered: I hated moving as a child. I hated moving as an adult. A home means something to a child, and we’d been in our home for a decade. It is my children’s childhood home.

My value system overrode my want. That one understanding led me to line up my values with other things I thought I wanted.

To be a published author? Sure, but I don’t want to be known. Fame is not my jam.

To help in my community? Yes, but for the right reasons. I never want to be a “pillar” of my community or one of those women who attends multiple charity balls per year.

A good mother? Absolutely. Perfect? No.

A teacher? If I have to, for the purpose and reason I have to in this season. But it is not my life-long dream.

A wife? Forever. To one man, God willing.

A Christian? No. Jesus-follower? All day.

Healthy eater? As long as healthy eating includes a sandwich and chips and a Little Debbie snack cake every now and then.

All of the things in life I thought I wanted shifted when I held them up against my values.

And in order to learn my values, I had to first learn I was valuable.

Because learning you’re valuable means understanding your desires matter.

You’re worthy of what you want. You just have to know what that really is.

See you soon,


2 thoughts on “To Figure Out What You Want, Figure Out Who You Are


    This is great. I definitely go through phases of feeling like I have nooo idea what I’m doing and just overall feel a little uneasy. But, when I’m working on the farm, writing, with family, or contributing to those things that make my heart sing, I feel like I’m exactly where I need to be. On the off hand, when I’m with people or doing things that don’t sit right, I have to remember those people/places are just not me, and I can’t force it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. marmalee Post author

      YES! I love this comment. Bloom where you’re planted and put roots where you’ll flourish. Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts.

      Liked by 1 person


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