If adapting your options hasn’t produced a clear winner, you should go back and look for alternatives. This is all about being open-minded and searching for other ways to achieve what you want.

It is helpful to go back to the root desire. Often we think we want something because it brings with it the thing we really want. For example, I might think I want a high-paid job, but it’s not the high-paid job itself that I want, it’s the disposable income it brings. In other words what I really want is more disposable income.

An alternative way of getting more disposable income would be to reduce my outgoings – dispense with things I don’t really want that cost me money, to free up cash to spend on other things. It turns out the high-paid job was just a means to an end – but not the only one.

To get down to your root desire, ask yourself, “why do I think I want that?”, “what is it that it brings me that I really want?” – or, put simply, “what do I really want?” This helps you distinguish the means from the end.


Another approach is to write down the things that are really important to you. Ask yourself “what do I value in life?”, “what are the most important things to me?” or “what are my priorities?”. Try sorting them into two categories “must have” and “would like”.

Once you have a clearer idea of what it is you really looking for, you can start thinking of alternative ways of attaining it. Just by thinking back to your root desire and asking how you might satisfy it will give you some new ideas.

Keep repeating the question “how else could I get what I really value?”

You can use the brainstorming technique to generate as many possible options as you can. Then merge or adapt them to get a good one.