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  • Writer's pictureAlex Bowman

I Don't Know What I Like!

Getting clarity on what brings you joy.

Do you want to find something that excites you but don't know where to start?

Do you ever think things won't be as good as they used to be?

When I work with a client, the first session is devoted to prioritising time for the essential things in their lives. I specialise in working with family men, so the easy part is prioritising time for work and the family. However, when I ask them what they want to prioritise for themselves, they can draw a blank.

There's usually a story about sports or activities they used to do before kids came along or before they became "too old". Their identity is so tied up in those old activities and why they can't do them that they don't consider other options. Even if they want to consider other options, they don't know where to start, so they do nothing.

It's vital to chase the things that bring us joy in life. When we experience something fun, it pulls us into the present and away from all the chatter in our heads. It brings us a feeling of fulfilment which makes us better versions of ourselves.

The typical response I hear from the dads I work with is:

"I don't know what I like anymore".

When men realise that they don't know what brings them joy, they can feel sad and lost. The sadness comes from self-judgement that they must be grumpy old men and the feeling of being lost comes from not knowing what to do about it.

This is where I work with them to change their perspective. It's not about the good old days being behind us. I've worked with 20-year-olds that feel this way, and even if they are in their 60s, age doesn't matter.

Not knowing what you like is an opportunity for curiosity and discovery!

So, how do we figure out what we like and start taking action towards it? I'm going to share the steps I take with my clients, and it revolves around the "peak experience" tool:

1. Reflect - Think about a time when you were happy. This doesn't have to be an individual event; it could be a period of your life. Go back to that time in your head and relive it. My personal example was a summer when I spent all my free time at a lake in the New Forest.

2. Analyse - Look at all the contributing factors to your happiness during this period. In my example, my initial response would have been "wakeboarding" because I was wakeboarding every day, and I loved it.

However, we need to dive deeper into why wakeboarding and this period were so special to me.

I was happy because I was outdoors, in water, surrounded by friends, doing a physical challenge, and there was a dose of adrenaline involved.

Unpacking the situation highlights some of my highest values in life: Nature, Connection, Physicality & Risk.

3. Get curious - Now that we've got a list of values that contribute to your enjoyment, we can look at what other activities align with them. In my example, although I love wakeboarding, my location doesn't allow me to do it regularly. However, surfing ticks all my values and an inland wave pool has opened up down the road. I can now go there with friends to connect with like-minded people whilst being in nature, whilst pushing myself physically and mentally.

4. Apply - Once we've got a list of potential activities that fall inside our values, it's time to step out of our comfort zone, be a newbie again and try them. These activities don't need to tick every value. It could be that hiking on my own ticks my physical and nature box whilst playing drums in a band ticks my connection and risk box (the risk of messing up the song in public!).

5. Reflect - We may not find the activities that light us up like a Christmas tree the first time, and it's important to reflect after you've tried them. Congratulate yourself for stepping outside your comfort zone and see if anything was missing. If there was, make sure you seek activities that fulfil it.

Throughout this process, it's essential to be kind to yourself. Many guys struggle to leave their ego behind and want to be good at everything straight away, and this isn't the point at all! It's great to have drive and enthusiasm to progress, and we don't want it to hinder us from being present and experiencing joy (that's another article here).

So get out there, be vulnerable and seek out activities that bring you joy and presence. You won't regret it!

If what I have shared here landed for you and you battle with something similar, click this link to book in for a complimentary 30-minute call. I want to help you turn that around.

Here's to your journey.


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