3 Tips to Getting What You Want

You can't always get what you want.

The Rolling Stones said it best (and why mess with perfection?) So, if that's the case, why do we try? Because sometimes, friends, you can get what you want. But there are a few steps to working through this process.


(1) Know what you want

And, I'll add: BE SELFISH. Take out a pen and your journal and jot down exactly what you want. What you really want. NYT bestseller? To work from home? A million dollars? A new house in the Bahamas? Now look at that list. Do you really want it? Or are you repeating the same empty goals you have for years on endless loop out of habit?

It happens.

If you're looking at your list and feels a little...flat, here's something to consider. Maybe you don't know what you want. Maybe you don't know, because you've never truly dug deep enough to figure it out. Stay with me. So often, we crow about what we don't have. We give voice to where we want to be. We want to be like this beautiful person over here, or that problem-free person over there. We suffer from envy or jealousy or in a gray haze of a combination of the two. But if you're being totally honest with yourself, are you chasing what you want or chasing what someone else has told you to chase? Are you running down a dream that's in your heart, or following the herd?

I speak from a place where I've done both. Once upon a time, I took out a sketchbook and some markers and on each page I wrote down what I loved to do. On this list (which was several pages and doodles) were things like drink coffee, wear pajamas, be at home, play with my dog, draw, and write. Just a little over three years after I wrote that list, guess what I was doing? I was working from home as a soon-to-be published author, sipping coffee and wearing my pajamas if I chose. If I never would have taken out those markers, I fear I never would have known what was truly in my heart. What I really wanted to do. Lists of goals before that said things like "millionaire" and "house on the beach" and "live in Hawaii." Years later, I looked back at those goals and realized that's what everyone else wanted. What I truly wanted was the feeling those goals gave me. I want peace, relaxation, and a beautiful place to live. All things I have now, because I know what I want.

I've said it before and I'll say it again: Duplicating someone else's process can be a good place to start when you don't know where to start. However, I caution you against following their goals and encourage you to chase your own, or else by the time you scrape and claw your way to the top of the mountain, you'll not only be exhausted but notice that the mountain you should have climbed is the one over there instead. 

(2) Turn down the noise

I almost wrote "ignore the noise" but it's not always possible to ignore it. You can block it out, maybe, but most likely, noise is going to make its way into your utopic existence. If you're like me, it creeps in when you have everything under control. Well, I should say, when you have the illusion that you have everything under control. πŸ™„

What is noise you ask? Oh, friends, it has many faces.

  • Facebook, Twitter, Instagram

  • Blogs, websites, sponsored ads

  • People who try to legitimately help you

  • People who try to keep you from succeeding (Also known as black crab syndrome--see note at the bottom of this blog)

Turning down out the noise is the hardest tip for me to grasp, and at the time of this writing, not one I've mastered. Maybe because I'm part extrovert and naturally seek out others. Maybe because I'm a relator so agreeing with you can be a heady drug. Maybe because (sometimes) I lack confidence in what I'm doing and worry that I should be doing the same thing as that really supersmart lady over there. After all, she's successful, shouldn't I do that?


Maybe not.


The key is knowing where you want to end up. (see tip #1) What's the end game for you? If Angelica Author wants to be the next James Patterson, then her journey should consist of steps that will lead her there. Her schedule should reflect someone who is building a brand and focusing on a decades-long career. Conversely, if Angelica decides that she simply wants a bit more padding in her vacation fund or retirement account, her journey should will look totally different. Maybe she writes one book every other year. Maybe she writes one book, period. There's no wrong answer--only the right one for you.

Once you've figured out what you want, quiet the outside prattle. You can ignore it for a little while, but tune back in (after you've reviewed your goals) and read an article or two. See what's going on in social media. Things change, and maybe you should, too. Sometimes you can find a golden nugget while sifting through a blog post or a how-to book. Use the "shopping cart" method when taking advice. Keep what resonates in your gut and leave the rest on the shelf for someone else to discover.

(3) Know what works and what doesn't

The trick to having confidence in your own process and gut is knowing what's working and what isn't working. I learned this tip years ago from organizational guru Julie Morgenstern--PS, her book is amazing! Though she may have been talking about office space at the time, I believe this tip applies here as well. You may look around and think "nothing is working!" If I started there, I might revamp my website, change my author name, overhaul my FB page, or change writing genres. 😳

Slow down.


Using classic "don't throw out the baby with the bathwater" logic, review what is working about your current approach. For example, let's say you're a writer. πŸ˜‰ Your list might look something like this:

What's working

  • website--well organized

  • writing hours--prioritized in the morning

  • branding

What's not working

  • social media--too time consuming!

  • blog--neglected

  • physical office space--cluttered

Now that you have the list of what's "not working" you won't spend countless hours reorganizing your website instead of refurbishing your office space or making a blog schedule. It's simple by description, but difficult in practice. It requires you to take inventory of what's really going on, fix what's not working, and leave what's working the hell alone. 



Note: The term β€œBlack Crab Syndrome” is a common saying in the island of the Bahamas and perhaps throughout regions of the Caribbean. The black crab, which is an actual species of crab, named for its black shell, is prevalent in these parts of the world. In the U.S., the crab more commonly seen carries a light orange shell; therefore, the black crab syndrome is perhaps a foreign disorder. However, the metaphor of β€œcrabs in a bucket,” a more widely used saying in the U. S., may be used to describe this same syndrome. Both conditions, black-crab syndrome and the crabs –in-a- bucket syndrome, convey the idea of persons confined to a similar place or status. The crabs in this place are withheld from progress, or any form of development toward their full potential. In their attempt to crawl out of the bucket, in order to explore and expand their knowledge and adaptability to other environs, they are pulled backward by the other crabs making this level of advancement impossible. (reference)