10/14/2010 10:31 pm ET Updated Nov 17, 2011

The First Step Toward Achieving Anything: Ask Yourself, 'What Do I Want?!'

The first step in achieving anything is defining your vision. As a start, begin with this powerful question: "What do I want?"

It's easy to skip over that kind of question without giving it much thought. But without having knowledge of the answer, well, you probably won't get too far.

The Key: Focus on "What," Not "How"

Begin by acknowledging that it's okay and actually quite liberating to accept not knowing exactly what you want right now. I don't think we ever know with certainty what we want in all areas of our lives; after all, life is an evolving process. At the same time, since it is an unfolding journey of personal exploration, it will definitely require a bit of personal effort. At this point, the "how" doesn't matter because worrying about it only weakens your attitude.

Trust Yourself

You can't connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something -- your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life.

--Steve Jobs

Do you trust yourself enough to think deeply about your own wants? In fact, it's critical that you do; otherwise, you can become trapped in feelings of guilt and other forms of rationalization about what you believe you should be doing--rather than what you want to be doing.

Recently, I decided to trust myself. In fact, I needed to make that decision so that I could continue to move forward. At the time, I was stuck and couldn't understand why; something was holding me back. When I realized what was stunting my growth, I trusted myself enough to take immediate action. I had kept a journal for at least a year and was still writing in it each evening. It held so many sad memories that I could feel them drain the energy from me each time I picked it up. And so last week, I took the journal out and simply threw it away. Although it held so much of my life within its pages, it was just paper. Fortunately, the important moments remain within me. I haven't looked back or regretted my actions since that day. Instead, tossing that journal out has allowed me to create a fresh beginning: a beautiful start for a new journey.

Find What You Love

It is never too late or too early to explore our lives; indeed, personal learning should never end, especially when it has to do with what you want in life. Of course, what you learn doesn't necessarily need to be something radical -- there are no rules or expectations.

When I began to explore what I wanted, I needed some type of anchor or cue to keep me motivated. For me, it was a little Post-it note on which I'd written, "Make me happy." I stuck it in the middle of a big inspiration board and began to think more and more about what makes me happy. At the time, it was a very novel question.

In an unforgettable commencement speech, Steve Jobs discussed what he believes to be most important to his personal and quite unconventional success. What's his secret to success? Finding what he loves"

You've got to find what you love. And that is as true for your work as it is for your lovers. Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven't found it yet, keep looking. Don't settle. As with all matters of the heart, you'll know when you find it. And, like any great relationship, it just gets better and better as the years roll on. So keep looking until you find it. Don't settle.

So be curious and follow your intuition. Let the process unfold naturally; you don't need to force it along. Explore questions and new ideas, and as you do, trust yourself, believe, and embrace uncertainty. Get out your brushes and paint a life you love.