How do you want to feel?

“We have the procedures of achievement upside down. We go after the stuff we want to have and accomplish outside of our selves, and we hope and pray that we’ll feel great when we get there.

It’s backwards. And it’s burning us out. 

What if, first, we got clear on how we actually wanted to feel in our life, and then we set our intentions? What if your core desired feeling consciously informed how you plan your day, your year, your life”

- Danielle La Porte, The Desire Map

I think that this is such a profound truth.

How often do we say in our lives and in our relationship with food and our bodies:

Once I lose 15 pounds, I’ll feel the way I want to feel.

Once I get that promotion… 

Once I graduate from school…

Once I buy a house, get a boyfriend, save more for retirement, cut my hair…

The list goes on and on.

Of course, I’m not saying that you don’t need to set goals or achieve things in life to feel good. Getting promotions, graduating from school, and buying houses are all wonderful things.

But I am saying that sometimes your goals don’t end up making you feel the way you want to feel.

You lose weight but still feel obsessed with food, like you have to count every calorie so you won't gain it back.

You get a promotion but are so burnt out that you can’t enjoy it, and you’re already obsessing about climbing the next rung of the corporate ladder.

It’s nice to graduate from school, but then you have to find a job, succeed at it, and deal with all of the other uncertainties of life.

Danielle La Porte’s suggestion (which she writes about beautifully in The Desire Map) is that you first identify how you want to feel. Then you can make sure that your actions and goals are actually going to get you there.

So how do you want to feel?

It’s helpful for most people to identify three to five “Core Desired Feelings” (Danielle’s term) because a list of 15 can be unwieldy. Mine are authentic, juicy, flow, well taken care of, and prepared.

What’s your list? Maybe it's a few of these: alive, abundant, balanced, brave, centered, clear, connected, confident, divine, elegant, empowered, feminine, goddess-like, guided, held, joyful, knowledgeable, loving, masculine, mindful, natural, rock and roll, productive, safe, secure, seen, sexy, smart, strong, thankful, and whole. 

The beautiful, incredible, profound part of this framework is that if we know how we want to feel, we can use that information to plan not only our long-term trajectory, but also the short term. They can influence what we do today, this morning, this minute.

  • What do you need to do this year to feel the way you want to feel?
  • What do you need to do this month?
  • This week?
  • Today?
  • Right now?

Maybe you need to make sure you take a walk outside so that you can feel centered. Maybe you need to talk to a friend or loved one every day, because one of your CDFs is “connected.”

And this is also so useful for the work we are doing here. You can use your Core Desired Feelings to help you make decisions about eating.

  • Will eating this food make me feel the way I want to feel?
  • How much should I eat to feel the way I want to feel?
  • Will eating standing up or sitting down make me feel the way I want to feel?

Here’s a recent example from my life: Sometimes when I stay up late, I find that I am hungry. For a long time, I loved to eat in those moments – for so many years, I had not “let” myself eat late at night because I’d read that late night eating leads to weight gain. So eating at night was a form of self-affirmation – See! I can take care of myself on my own terms! AND not gain weight!

But recently, I’ve been noticing that eating late at night doesn’t make me feel well taken care of (one of my Core Desired Feelings). It makes me feel gunky.

I realized that if I just have some water and go to bed without eating (and promise myself that I can eat till fullness in the morning), I feel much more like I am taking good care of myself.

It’s a small example, but it really contributes to my well-being and makes me feel better overall.

Your challenge for this week: Spend a few minutes brainstorming what your CDFs might be! Write them on a post-it and put them on your wall, and think about how you can organize your day, your week, and your year to include more of them!

I’d love to know in the comments: What are your Core Desired Feelings? What kind of decisions could you make better if you kept your CDFs in mind?

Have a great week!

p.s. If Core Desired Feelings strikes a chord with you, check out more of Danielle La Porte’s work on her blog.