Are you thriving or surviving?

Do you remember thinking: “What do I want to be when I ‘grow up’?” I do.

In fact, well into my adolescence (erhm, early adulthood), this question used to plague me. Conversations in my family sounded a bit like this as university applications approached:

Mom and/or Dad: What do you want to do when you ‘grow up’?
Me: Speak German.
Mom and/or Dad: What about career-wise?
Me: I don’t know but I hope it includes speaking German.
Mom and/or Dad: How about you study business while you learn German?

And that’s what I did! I did my degree in Commerce, while learning German. Then I went to Mannheim, Germany for a semester abroad where I met my nowadays fiancé Juha. Shortly after that, I moved to Finland.

Does life look like how I’d imagined it? Not even close… I don’t even know if I was able to imagine it at all. Even my passion for German has died down and was instead replaced with a passion for Finnish.

And over the past 10 years, if not more, I have spent a significant portion of my energy pondering this cringe-inducing question: What do I want?

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Do I want a career in W? A job in X? A home in Y? A family like Z?
I think moving to Finland was a huge kick in the pants when it came to this question.

When I found myself in Tampere with limited options, I no longer asked myself what do I want, I started asking: What can I get?

This shift, from What do I want? → What can I get? is a dangerous and slippery slope.


Think about it: one asks you want you (maybe) want to thrive and flourish, the other one is a clear path to settling and living in surviving mode. So which is it: thriving or surviving? I’m pretty sure these definitions will explain to you why you want one and not the other.

Surviving: settling for what we think we can have from the choices you perceive before you (even if you’re just feeding your own confirmation bias, aka. choosing to interpret what you see, as confirming what you already know. For example: I can’t find a better job. → There are no better jobs.)

Thriving: going after what you really want out of the choices you see before you and opportunities waiting to be spotted (which you may not having noticed yet) and/or created (just because they don’t exist yet, doesn’t mean they can’t).


But wait – let’s back up a second… I ended up in this whole mess of surviving and settling because I chose to start from zero in a foreign country. But before that, I had a handful of years to figure out what I wanted and I still hadn’t managed to answer that question.

But today, I finally know!

I found my answer after I came across a fellow Canadian named Danielle Laporte, author of The Desire Map, who has completely turned goal-setting upside down.

Instead of asking ourselves what do I want? (which may or may not lead you to feel a certain way once you get it) Danielle teaches us to ask how do I want to feel?

How do you want to feel?
In your heart, your body, your career?
When you wake up in the morning,
when you speak your peace,
when you go after what you want?

This simple shift has been a game changer for me.

Since asking myself this question and doing the Desire Map, I figured out my Core Desire Feelings. These feelings have helped me by:

  • Making decisions feels easier,
  • Anxiety, stress or numbness don’t go unchecked,
  • Enjoying the process, aka. my life today, has become a priority.

Plus I can finally tell you what I want!

I want to feel connected, fearless, truth and simple.

These are my core desire feelings, my 8-syllable compass to what I want. Every day they guide me towards the choices to create the life I crave.

I believe in this process so much that I became a Licensed Desire Map Facilitator, to guide others through the process of answering the powerful question: How do I want to feel?

So tell me , are you settling for what you think you can have instead of what truly want? And how would you like to feel: today, tomorrow, and this month? Leave a comment below!

My first workshop is taking place Sat. July 2 + Sun. July 3, 2016 in Helsinki, Finland! The atmosphere will be intimate so spots are limited. Don’t wait and miss out. (Registration closes Thursday, June 23rd.)

For more info about this and future workshops (in Helsinki & around the world), click here.


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Hi! I’m Irina.

I’m a multibelonger to Finland, Canada and Romania, without ONE language or culture to call my own – I have several. My intention is to be present where I am and find inner peace and harmony where ever life takes me. I’m embracing the gems of the ongoing cultural and linguistic transition which is my life and hope to inspire others interested in doing the same. Read my story & more about what I do here.

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