On fire with desire! Getting clear on how you want to feel

Earlier this week as Valentine’s day approached I had a discussion with a small group of women about our collective definition of love.  We circled around a lot of commonly heard things including the mutual exchange of caring, affection and growth, but I found the conversation really getting interesting when we opened up our ideas about love beyond the confines of just 2 people. Things got expansive and we started talking about how love is a conscious choice to feel a certain way. Things like freedom, openness, giving, fearlessness, growth, courage, gratefulness and abundance all came up.
Feelings of love originate inside ourselves. The exciting thing about this kind of definition of love is we don’t have to wait for any other person to “turn us on.” We have the chance to turn on our own love switch every day.

Talking about love in this way reminded me of the work of Danielle LaPorte’s The Desire Map, which I have found incredibly useful over the last couple of years.  Desire Mapping gets you to dig into the feelings you desire to feel so you can design your goals around activities that are chosen to help you feel those feelings. It’s a hotline to feeling the way that you want to feel, instead of putting unreliable intermediaries (a raise, a nicer home, a new relationship, a vacation) in the driver’s seat.

LaPorte feels that we often get it backwards. We typically set goals without investigating the feelings that we are actually after. Generally this traditional goal setting method can lead to a lack of fulfilment. You might get the gorgeous home or the new job, but it’s very likely you don’t end up feeling the way that you expected. One doesn’t lead to the other.

We have the procedures of achievement upside down. We go after the stuff we want to have, get, accomplish, and experience outside of ourselves. And we hope, yearn, pray that we’ll be fulfilled when we get there. It’s backwards. It’s outside in. And it’s running us in circles. – Danielle LaPorte

When I look at some of the old goals I had a few years ago, I realised that my core desired feelings were not likely to follow from the goals I had set for myself at the time.

Now, each year I reflect on how I want to feel. My core desired feelings (CDF) have changed a bit year on year but they generally stay within a family that includes feelings of authenticity, freedom, joy, connection, growth and play. The words you choose are very personal, and you go through a process of honing down semantically to the words that push your own buttons and truly light you up inside. You need to not simply think about these words. You need to feel them in your gut.


Each week on The Confidence Kitchen we’re all spending time working on healthy habits. Since we’re putting in all this effort I figured that this week it would be good to spend a short 15 minutes (preferably with a cup of tea) so you can start uncovering how you’d like to feel after building up your health.

Personally I want to feel radiant.  That word really captures the essence of the feeling I am after when I make a recipe, when I work out, when I use a natural beauty treatment, and even when I’m trying to decide which blog post topics to write about. I ask myself “What will make me feel more radiant?”

By deciding how you want to feel first, you give yourself the gift of a much clearer decision making process. It makes weekly planning so much easier as you can clearly see which habits are your priorities, which habits to schedule on your diary, and which things aren’t really serving your greater desires. This is a critical first step to getting what you want out of your life.

This Week’s Exercise: Get in touch with how you want to feel

Healthy habit for this weekInstructions

  1. For this week,  spend 10-15 minutes jotting down a shortlist of 3-5 words that describe how you would like to feel as a result of your healthy activities this year.
  2. Write your words on a few index cards and place them in prominent places where you will see them. Refer to them when planning your week.
  3. To kickoff your brainstorm, there are a few ideas below that answer the question “How do I want to feel this year?”
    • radiant
    • alive
    • vibrant
    • clean
    • on fire
    • energised
    • lit up
    • buoyant
    • light
    • hot
    • flourishing
    • energetic
    • flexible
    • pain free
    • powerful
    • attractive
    • relaxed
    • carefree


Using your core desired feelings to plan your week

This year all my activities are planned around feeling these feelings:

  • Playful
  • Radiance
  • Adventurous
  • Expansion
  • Union

The thing is that with these feelings calling the shots, I have so much more clarity when planning my weeks and months. Now, the question becomes:

“How can I feel <X> this week?”

The question “How can I feel playful this week” brings up a list of simple things I can do, including ‘listen to Spotify to discover new (to me) music’. This is something I love but never seem to get to. Adding that to my to-do list for the week makes me happy and I look forwards to the time I’ll spend playing in this way.

Similarly the “How can I feel expansion this week” gets me thinking about a few things to include in my weekly plans including a practice of short daily meditations, a list of books that I would like to read  (the plan is 2 books a month), and an online course that I’ve been putting off taking, but I know will really rock my world.

I would highly recommend that you take a look at The Desire Map. Any health regime at it’s core needs a strong why. Getting in touch with your desires activates energy and passion that helps make getting healthy really enjoyable.