top of page

Stop telling me what you don’t want.

Updated: Jun 7, 2023

I am a serial offender, immediately going to what I don't want, and I wonder if you are too? Is it okay to be this way? What is it like to be in a room when everyone's first response is seemingly negative? What's it like to be in a room when everyone is overly optimistic?

Let's start with two examples where you might have experienced the “what I don’t want” response:

Example One: You are working through a conflict or emerging issue with an individual, your manager or coach, and your opening statement is something like this:

  • I want them/you to stop xxxx.

  • I don’t want to be xxxx by you/them.

  • I don’t feel xxxx when you/they xxxx.

Example Two, and the key focus for this piece, is when you want to change your role or career trajectory. Whether it’s seeking a change out of curiosity or with intention, you find yourself scanning possible options and quickly responding in your head or out loud with the following reactions:

no, nope, not that, no way, not for me!

Often the very reason that causes you to begin a more determined search for a new role or career change is because you are not getting what you want in your current circumstances.

  • I don’t feel recognised.

  • I don’t like my new boss.

  • I don’t like the emerging culture around here.

I searched for quotes and books that might justify the validity of a ‘don’t want’ approach. Most results were along the lines of getting from negative to positive. One book, which has mixed reviews, caught my eye, “Bad Vibes Only” Nora McInery, who also has a podcast titled “Terrible, Thanks for Asking”, reminds us that life is about more than just good vibes. She invites us to drop the façade of perfection; in essence, it’s okay to not be okay.

Sometimes we need to get the stuff we don’t want off our chests or out of our minds, and a simple exercise to help you do this is to write your “Don’t Want” list. If it’s long, that’s okay. Usually, when you reflect on it, you discover themes, and you can group things together and assess what might be the driving issue. From there, you can create a priority list with absolute deal breakers, “I’m going to get working on this now,” to “good reflection; however, with honesty, I can live with that, for now”.

So now the challenge. Can you take the “don’t want list” and shift the language into a “do want list”?

Why bother making a list of your desires and wants? I find that this exercise shifts the energy and begins to shape a new vision which enables a person to ‘paint a vibrant, rich picture’ in their minds, and this helps to find language that allows them to begin communicating more effectively the steps that will be taken to move forward.

In my coaching work, two key outcomes or ‘deliverables’ become practical, and positive tools for clients to utilise once they have completed their desires. Either a Communications/Roadmap document that, if followed, will move them effectively towards their goals or a “Decision Making Check List”, which I have been told, has currency spanning many years.

It is vital, when creating plans to move forward, to ensure you approach any vision, roadmap or decision through a holistic lens, considering the potential impacts, negative and positive, on yourself, your environment and the people most affected by any changes you make.

So, back to the original questions:

Is it okay to start with a negative reaction, or a 'don't want' list? In my humble opinion, yes it is. On a personal note, I stated my first reaction can often be negative, however, what I have learned is that I very quickly move from this paradigm to a positive way forward. I hope this is the case for you too?

What is it like to be in a room when everyone's first response is seemingly negative? Only you can answer this, the question is whether the individuals stay this way for 10 seconds, 10 minutes or 10 hours. How much can you tolerate when you have things you need to get done?

What's it like to be in a room when everyone is overly optimistic? This can be complex, as it is often linked with human behaviour and style. Be conscious of what you might be reacting to. The person, or the idea? Decide what get's tackled in the room, and what may need to be resolved in another way.

Is it as simple as making a list and getting on with it? Maybe?

I would suggest that if you are considering a significant life or career change, you work with a professional mentor or coach to protect what you have worked so hard to build to this point and to ensure that you enjoy the creating and executing of your “do want” desires.

Photo Credit: Glenn Carstons-Peters Unsplash - List

Photo Credit: Christian Lue - Unsplash - Want


If you need some help navigating a change in your role or career, why not, get brave, and make contact for a free 30 minute session to get you started.

Have you ever been stuck in an elevator?

My next blog will be on this very experience; eleven people over one hour. What happened - lots!

Shirley Reeder, Director of Brave Consulting


Los comentarios se han desactivado.
bottom of page