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.