What do you want?

WHITEMAN AIR FORCE BASE, Mo. -- What started out as a piece to enlighten the masses became something more personal. I had a very hard time staying on topic so I attempted what every good writer will do sometimes...ask the question, "What do you want?"

I walked away from the keyboard, sent the partial sentence fragments back and forth from home to work and back...with no better results. Finally, my inspiration came in the form of one of my father's many, (many) sayings. I realize it's not very popular and certainly not often someone would admit they learned something from their parents; certainly not the rebellious son who wanted to do everything his own way.

However, I've tried to apply the lesson to my daily life, "You're lying to yourself."

Of course I lost something in the translation from the Chinese dialect to English, but the lesson remains. I'm quite sure this saying will not replace, "Forget about it."

So what does that really mean? If you think about it, you'll realize that the one person you could truly never lie to is yourself. This lesson is very useful in many situations and is one of many my father wanted me to learn. If I lie to myself, the only person I'm hurting is me.

In order to learn that lesson, I have to accept the truth that I'm never going to know everything or be the best at anything. Sad really, but true because, there's always a bigger fish, somebody's always younger, or there's somebody smarter, better, faster and stronger.

So what's the point? The point is to go through the journey (yes, it's the climb) so you can see how far you can go. The point is to not let myself think I can't learn anything from a song, an episode of 'The Kardashians' or from a first-term Airman (or for that matter, from someone more senior or with a different background).

The point is also that what I know may not be correct. Additionally, it might also be that what I want may not be what I need.

It's this last message that ends up hurting in the end, because there's a lot of wishful thinking, not enough planning or effort being put forth to bring about the desired results.

I can still almost hear it, "Don't lie to yourself because you may think you could just wing it and be able to get an "A" in that class."

If I plow head-on without a goal, I haven't figured out what steps I need to get there and I think "any road will take you there if you don't know where you're going."

I want to serve my country, but I can't meet standards. I want to meet and exceed the standards and get a perfect score on my fitness assessment; yet I haven't slimmed down to less than a 35 inch waist. I haven't taken the time to increase my running speed and endurance, nor have I gotten to a point where I can do 50 pushups (without stopping) followed by 50 crunches and follow that with a six minute 20 second mile.

I've seen it time and again where an individual would wait until the month prior to testing to get fit. Don't lie to yourself.

But before I get too far, I have to make this one point; it matters which of the two questions you ask first: 1. What do I need? and 2. "What do I want?"

There's a big difference between the two and if you think you "need" a fancy new sports car when you're not able to put away some money for retirement, don't lie to yourself.

If you ask the second question first, then you could make a plan to do what you "need" in order to satisfy that "want."

Lastly, there may be tempting alternatives to planning and hard work toward your goals. However, you may quickly find out what you get is not necessarily what you need or even what you want.

Don't lie to yourself when you ask the question; What do I want?