Becoming the change you want to be in the world

There’s been a lot of conversation about Want-ology® by people who have never experienced it, including Arlie Hochschild, and various newspapers, and now (I’m told) Al Gore…*sigh*.

I have always felt that we are here to make a contribution to the world, to make things better than when we got here in some way.  I suppose I missed the 1980s and the ME generation. I was sort of busy looking at public policy that wouldn’t create disasters it was supposed to avoid, and helping people to learn the Systems/Cybernetics approach to understanding why bad things happen (nuclear power plant meltdowns, sky-high dropout rates from the nations’ schools) BEFORE we sank another billion dollars into ill-designed fixes.

I called it Problem Framing back then. And the idea was to avoid the “FIX” until you understood the vision–your desired end state.  Then instead of applying yet another FIX, you design the solution backward, working from your desired end-state.  It’s like the principle from “Seven Habits of Highly Effective People”: Begin with the end in mind.  Except most people and organizations don’t seem to know how to do that.

I’ve spent most of my career looking at how to make things better, and supporting public and non-profit organizations. And I’ve spent time working with for-profit companies that actually make things, and provide important services that make the world work.

In the last six years, with my involvement in the coaching community and my further exposure to neuroscience, I’ve come to some new realizations about how that works, in each and every one of us.  I’ve been building it into the process I started calling Want-ology® several years ago.

So here’s what I want to share. If Want-ology® makes you think of the hyper-individualism and frankly the greed of the past 30 years or so…we can dicker about the name.

Whatever you call it, this process is:

An invitation to shift your perspective;
to discover the truth behind your “goals”;
to connect with the still, small voice in your heart;
to become the change you want to see in the world.

And thanks to my wonderful clients and colleagues who helped me discover the core of this truth.

Want-ology® or “Happy-ology”?

When I first developed Want-ology®, I developed it as a set of tools for personal change, a way to be able to shift our consciousness, our perspectives, our underlying assumptions, our ability to see new possibilities. It is not a way to just be happier. I would have called it “Happy-ology” if that were the case.

Want-ology® is a challenge to our “normal way of being.” The world is changing around us: Our lives, our job opportunities, our relationships, and our expectations about the future. It’s an opportunity to make a real shift in the way we see ourselves and our lives and our options. It takes some real engagement, because if you are in a changing world, you need to be able to see that change, and look at who and how you want to be in that new world. And you can’t get there by just tweaking your language or practicing positive thinking.

Want-ology® is for people who see that what they are doing isn’t getting the results–the personal experiences–that they want to be having. It is for people who are ready to make a shift in their thinking, and experience life in a new way. It’s about change, and not just external change, getting a new job, having a new relationship, finding a new hobby (although these things might happen in the course of their Want-ology® process).

Most important, the people who are attracted to Want-ology® are willing to entertain new ways of thinking and experiencing to discover what is most important to them. It takes some work.

I have noticed that most people will wholeheartedly embrace change–as long as they don’t have to do anything different. If you just want to be “happier” and not change anything but your attitude, I recommend a form of “Happy-ology”.

Want-ology® is an invitation to the shift that will change your perspective, and if you choose, can change your life into the life you want to be living, not the one others expect you to have. It’s not for everyone.

Is it for you?

How do you know it works?

My favorite story is about a fellow I’ll call John.  John was a member of one of the Total Quality organizations I belonged to a number of years ago.  This was before I’d developed the whole Want-ology® package (that continues to evolve).

A number of years ago, I wound up in the Total Quality Transformation business as part of my livelihood path.  It totally fit (from my perspective) what I was about: Systems and shifts and transformations–and making things work.  

So I developed the core that is now “Want-ology®” to help companies figure out what to focus on in their quality efforts (which was not necessarily what they had been told they were supposed to do), and how to measure the effects to see if they were REALLY getting the results they wanted.  These efforts are usually really expensive and painful, and if they don’t get you a good result, you’ve just wasted LOTS of money.  They usually start out with a solution like, “Implement a TQM program.”  And the consultants get rich but frustrated, and the companies often go into the red before they go back to business as usual, or just auger in.

I was teaching the seminar to a public group of quality professionals, and John was in the audience. Since the people there worked for different companies, they didn’t want to expose their business problems directly.  So I gave them the option of using an example from their personal life.  

John did. 

When I asked that they come up with a Want statement, John said “I want to keep my job.”  Interesting.  So we moved through the very short set of questions.  

And suddenly, he couldn’t contain himself.  He said, “I said I wanted to keep my job.  I really need the money.  And jobs in quality are really tough to come by.” (Did I mention we were in a previous recession at the time?) 

John continued. “But everything I love about my current job is going away.  The bank I work for has just been bought by a different bank, and they are moving their people into the front-lines.  What I love about my job is the customer contact, working with the staff to make thing better for customer service, and really seeing the results and the difference we’re making.

“If I keep my job, they’ll move me to the back office, and all I’ll ever do is deal with routine problems and the computerized systems.  They have their own quality staff, and I’m not on it.”

So I’d made my point…the first thing we ask for is not necessarily what we really want.  But how to help John? We talked a bit more about how to get clear about what he really wanted, and how to know when he got it, and a few other things that I thought might help.  I was dejected…wished I could have done more. 

Fast forward to the first Statewide Quality Initiative conference in the region about six months later.  I attended.  And I thought I recognized one of the people on the stage.  It was John.  I was looking to congratulate him, when he caught up to me at the morning break.  

“I’m so glad to see you!” he said.  

“John, I’m so glad you’re involved in this. It looks very exciting, and right up your alley.”

He said, “I know.  And I wouldn’t be here if I hadn’t been in your seminar that day.  I realized that I couldn’t stay in that bank job.  When I realized, and said out loud, what was important to me, it was like the light went on!  I called a colleague of mine who was in a similar situation, and we went to the governor’s office and pitched this idea.  So we just founded the State Quality Initiative and we are having a blast. I’m on it as a full-time officer.  It’s so exciting.  I’m working with people at all levels and getting to make such a difference businesses in the region…and to the whole state. I’m going to the National Quality conference next month.  So, thank you!”

I can’t take credit for what John did after he left the seminar.  He was awesome.  But I am so proud and glad that the questions that became Want-ology® got him unstuck, refocused and launched.

That was MY aha to go deeper, and fully develop Want-ology® for people.  Different versions of this story, some not as flashy, but equally personally profound, happen out of every workshop, and many Want-ology® engagements.

Thank you John, for helping me see how I could make a bigger difference.


Why is Want-ology® different?

I’ve been asked a lot about “what makes Want-ology® different from everything else?  What’s so special?”  I could answer a lot of ways.  There are many things that make it different…and for many people, profoundly effective in getting unstuck and finding their path forward.  

It’s a system and it’s specifically designed to help you make a shift in your life.  I know, because it has helped me, repeatedly, make shifts in my life.

I always wanted an exciting life.  I didn’t want it to be boring, or mundane or to do things because they were “expected.”  And I wanted to be unstoppable.  It was clear to me early on that people could hire or not hire me, teach me or refuse to teach me, give me authority or not give me authority.  So I got really good at figuring how to go down different paths to get to where I wanted to go.

The key was knowing where that was for myself, not just identifying an external goal that was attached to what someone else “owned” or owned the right to control.  That meant listening to my internal voice, not the cacophony of people around me, the media, and the visible trappings of “success.”  It also meant being able to stay true to myself, and navigate myself ahead, on my own terms, and still function in society and earn a living.  And maybe most important, it meant finding the contributions I could make to the world. 

That’s why I developed Want-ology®.  It’s my way of boiling down all of those issues, to share with you how to see–deeply–what you really want.  And how to chart your course to getting it.  

There’s a real role for having a “goal” or identifying a “want.”  But it’s usually not the goal or the “want” that’s the point. It’s what’s behind it.

The old Chinese proverb, “Be very careful what you ask for, for you shall surely have it” points to what I consider is the Universe and its strange sense of humor.  So you can have a goal, like get a college degree, or get a job at X company.  Or you can have a “want” like “I want to get married”, “I want more money”, “I want a better job.”  And you may get it.  And it may be fine. Or it may turn out to be disappointing, awful, NOT be anything like you expected, hoped for, or desired. 

Or you may try and try again to get it, and fail, or ultimately become convinced you can never have what you want. People spend years beating up on themselves and thinking they never tried hard enough, whether that’s true or not.  Not a good way to spend what may be the only time you have on the planet.

Your goal, or the “want” that you are asking for is, however, a great jumping off point, and that’s where we start.  So if you bring yourself to Want-ology®, bring your goals. Bring your “wants.”  You may get them. There’s a good chance that, after Want-ology®,  they will be much more like what you had in mind.

But it’s just as likely that you’ll wind up with a path that leads to something much, much better.  

And you’ll walk away knowing you can make that happen again and again, and you’ll have the tools to do it.




Want-ology®…and the press

I have my husband to thank (or blame) for the press we’ve gotten this past year.  He, after all, came up with the name Want-ology®.  He is terrific at cutting to the chase and finding really catchy names. I was calling it something stupid and un-marketable like “problem framing”…:-)  

It’s always fascinating the way these things happen.  Now that I am again successfully teaching coaches and other “helping professionals” the process to use with their clients, I’m paying much more attention to how Want-ology® is presented in the press and online.  Hence, the blog. 

Want-ology® is “the study of what you really want.”  Emphasis on “really.”  It’s a way of focusing your attention in a different way, and getting un-stuck.  It’s about making a shift in how you understand things and what possibilities you see as openings for you.  It’s about reflecting in a way that gets you in touch with the real foundations of what you want…not the particular solution you’ve come up with.  It is also designed to “untangle the knot” you are probably in if you’re trying to work out your problem or plan your course the way we usually work things out for ourselves.

What it is not is a cheerleading, motivational rah-rah you-can-do-it.  It’s not “positive thinking.”  It’s not “Just be happy” and it’s not “affirmations.” All of these things have their place (maybe), but too often I see them as a way of avoiding reality, trying to ignore the way things are. They are also great for driving guilt and denial.  Not my cup of tea.

It’s also not a way of just “living with things the way they are and getting used to it.” 

Sorry, had to get that off my chest. 🙂

It won’t cure cancer, make the sun revolve around the earth nor is it a promise that you will find true love. So what will it do?

At its core, Want-ology® will help you access your real desires, what you really want to experience.  It will help you focus on what really matters.  It’s a pretty reliable process (technically, a meta-process), for people who want to engage.

When you do engage, you shift the way you see the world, yourself, and your possibilities.  Also, it’s my observation that most of my clients start to get opportunities that they didn’t know existed, or that suddenly appear “out of nowhere.”  Whether that is a function of “Chance favors the mind prepared” or the Universe finally hearing clarity from you, and sending you new options depends on how metaphysically you prefer to see things.  But it seems to happen a lot.

So, full disclosure–I don’t know what you really want.  I’m usually wrong when I try to guess, based on our initial conversation.  So I don’t try.    And if two people come in with exactly the same “initial statement of want” (I want a new job, I want more money, I want a bigger house…), they usually end up with entirely different wants from each other by the end of the sessions. That’s because underneath, they are unique. They have different needs, concerns, desires, and visions that drive them. Perfect!

What I want is to make life work better for the people I work with.  I want the “Aha” to happen that changes everything. More than one “Aha” actually.  I want a better future for you, and a better present. 

I also have (full disclosure) a short attention span.  Want-ology® can help get you focused for a longer coaching engagement, but I focus on getting you unstuck…Some of the coaches I’ve trained can do both.  

I’ll be posting from time to time about Want-ology®, commenting on things in the press, inviting your questions and comments, and inviting some of my Want-ology®-certified coaches and clients to add their voices as well. 

I’m looking forward to getting to know you all, and helping you get to know Want-ology®.

All the best, 


The Outsourced Life conundrum

Life is an amazing thing…I’ve been using Want-ology® for almost 25 years with professionals, organizational clients, students and people I was mentoring.  Suddenly, as a result of an interview many months ago with Arlie Hochschild, I found my name on the front page of the Sunday Review section in the New York Times, crediting me (thank you!) as the creator of Want-ology®, even as she bemoaned the fact that we even need “wantologists” (Arlie’s word), because we are so confused about what we want, and need to hire help instead of relying on the support and counsel of friends and family.

The context of the article is how we outsource our lives–a theme I can really relate to.  Strangers charging money for things that people used to give freely to their family and friends.  I have a person whom I pay to come in once a month to really clean my house–I’m lacking kids, a network of neighbors and an extended family to help me.  I’ve bought coaching services to get my business started, instead of being able to rely on advice from my uncle or my grandmother.  A counselor helped me through some really rough spots while I was going through my divorce–not a community of friends (although I did get a lot of empathy from them). I pick up ready-to-eat soup from Whole Foods when I’m juggling my professional work, or have just one too many meetings that day.

It’s not a tragedy that these things are available, and that we can pay for them, in my opinion. The tragedy is that we have monetized all things of value, and we don’t see value in things that are not for sale in the marketplace.

If I ever have to hire somebody to pet my cats for me because I don’t have the time, I am taking them and my husband, and moving to the mountains–maybe live in a couple of those 10X12 prefab sheds available from Lowes, because I’ll know I’ve been consumed by a professionalized society.  Oops–I suppose I should build my own place from the natural resources surrounding me.  🙂

But when Arlie and I spoke last year, I truly resonated with her as we talked.  In fact, part of what made me codify the Want-ology process for individuals and life coaches was the realization that we are so caught up in the whirl of modern life, so confused by choices and opportunities, so manipulated by the latest buzzwords, so entranced with the productizing of solutions, and some of us so deluded by “Reality TV” that we can’t stop and listen to the voice inside us.

We don’t take the time to resonate with fully experienced emotions.  We don’t know how to sit and pay attention to our bodies and souls long enough to see what is truly valuable–what we long to experience.  Us.  Not the image we want to project.  Not the club we want to join so we can be seen, valued, maybe envied. Not the profession we want to enter so that we can finally feel worthy, wealthy, respected.  And in the times like these, when a lot of conventional options are closed off to so many of us, it is even more important to resonate with the internal values, not other people’s image of what is valuable.

I’m looking forward to reading Arlie’s whole book–especially to see what insights she may have to recreate some of this social fabric. We ache for connection and authenticity, for support and real connection. That’s a Want-ological question well worth our attention.