(Today’s first post is a guest contribution from ASK Associate, Len WIlliamson: for more about Len, visit his Executive Coaching profile at the ASK website).

How can such a simple question be so difficult to answer?  Most people find it very easy to say what they would like to have but “can’t because” – and can immediately tell you what they can’t have.

Stating clearly, meaningfully and with confidence what you want is so much tougher.  It requires you to confront the obstacles you need to overcome.  Bringing clarity to what you want is the first step towards becoming who you want to be.  The next step is to understand how most of the obstacles getting in the way are put there by you, and that it is you who can remove them.

So, let’s say you want your boss’s job …

At the moment you can’t have it, because you think she sees other candidates as more suitable or she does not value what you can offer.  This fits well with the category of “I can’t have it because my boss will not give it to me”.

There can be a lot of comfort in this position, as it is not your fault.  It requires little effort on your part to put it right, as you see it as out of your control.  In this example, the question to ask is “do you really want your boss’s job?”

Consider what it is about the job you want?  Be clear and specific.  Where else can you get those desired attributes?  What is it about you that is preventing you from getting what you want?  What are you not willing to confront or do to make yourself the best candidate for what you want?

These questions are all hard work, and are more easily avoided when you run up against your own boundaries.  It is much more comfortable to say your boss does not value what you can give than it is to accept that you need to speak up and state your position with more confidence in management meetings.  The latter requires you to change something about yourself to get what you want: often this is frightening, or just looks impossible.

Everyone has these boundaries, whether it be discomfort talking to large audiences, dislike of technical detail, inability to work well with certain groups of people, or being too introverted.  The really powerful point here is that if you can identify what it is about you that you are avoiding, you can then confront it and take it on.  Most of these boundaries are put there by yourself – and can be removed by you.

I am confident that being able to describe what it is about you that is getting in the way of you getting what you want will – in itself – give you useful insight.  It will at least help you refine your articulation of what you want, which will then help you make progress towards having it.

I also believe that crossing some of the boundaries that define and constrain you is one of the greatest sources of growth and development for you.  One boundary you may have is that personal boundaries are fixed and cannot be overcome.  They can – and this is the first one to address.

Think about it.  What do you want?