But first, figure out what you want.
This blog post is a two-parter. I started out wanting to write about asking for what you want (and I will), but I started to realize that this is so intricately tied to knowing what you want, simply and clearly, that I can’t really write about one without the other.
So here we go J [DISCLAIMER: I just recently read the book The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck, so there may be a few profanities in here. What can I say, I was inspired and g*ddammit sometimes nothing but a swear word will do!]
figure out what you want
You might be thinking – well of course I know what I want, Alene, what a silly thing to insinuate! I know, I know. Let me tell you what I mean when I say that sometimes we don’t even know what we really want. In that first moment of wanting, we know it. But VERY quickly after that first moment – like, seconds later – we download all our thoughts and doubts about how that isn’t possible or how we couldn’t possibly make that happen, such that it becomes totally intermingled in what our original thought was, and we lose track of what we want altogether.
Here’s an example. Maybe you want to move to a new city. You’ve been, you love it, you feel like the best version of yourself there and you want to go live there! Yahoo! And before you know it, you’re thinking: my family will be devastated if I move; I’m going to have to start all over finding new friends; I’ll never find as good of a job; they don’t have my favorite restaurant there; it snows there and I don’t have a real jacket…….and suddenly you CAN’T do it. It just doesn’t make any sense and it can’t possibly work. Before you even let yourself sink into feeling how much you want it, you have talked yourself out of it entirely, and it doesn’t even feel like it’s possible. And you start to think – I CAN’T move to a new city. It’s just not something I can do. Maybe someone else could, but I can’t.
So here’s the challenge – take yourself back to that first moment, that sparkly pure moment of wanting or longing. In its purest most simple form, what is it that you want? And say it in one short sentence: I want a promotion. I want a partner. I want to live in XYZ city. I want to start my own business. AND THEN STOP THERE. Don’t let your wanting, at this stage, get flooded and covered over with the logistics you don’t yet know how to make happen.
Ask for what you want
OK now you know what you want – it’s time to go get it. To ask for it.
It sounds so simple. And yet, frankly, very few people do it. We want a thing (when we can actually hold onto those basic straightforward wants we feel), but we don’t ask for it. Just like that moment that floods in to try and convince us not to want what we want, the next hurdle is the flood of thoughts that convince us not to go get what we want by asking for it.
Here’s an example: I moved back to the bay area last year to be near my family (a want I had for a LONG time before I finally thought to myself – what the f*ck am I doing not moving back??!). After almost 20 years in LA, I had cultivated and nurtured a wide social and professional network. I had more friends and connections than I could feasibly invest in. Back in the bay, I can pretty much count on two hands my social circle. Now, the majority of these people are friends who I love dearly and am very close to, and yet I noticed I was really wanting those single girlfriends like I had in LA. And a friend in my mastermind (who is also a coach), said – why don’t you ask them (I have two such ladies here) to take you out when they go out with their friends?
Ask for what I want? Are you f*cking crazy??
And then I considered my alternatives. I could wait and hope for those opportunities and chances and people to cross my path, or I could ask for what I want. And maybe, just possibly, get it.
So I did. I asked one of these ladies if, the next time she went to anything where strangers are welcome, she would bring me. And, not surprisingly given how social and wonderful she is, was like DUH, GIRL, OBVI!!!
Here’s the thing I’ve realized. People WANT to help you. And in many cases, people WANT to give you what you want (f*ck, maybe they even want the same thing, THEY just couldn’t ask for it!). They just need a f*cking clue as to what that is so they can figure out if they can give it to you. And even if they can’t, maybe they have some other idea! Want a turkey sandwich? Shoot, I’m all out of turkey, but right next door is a delicious deli, go get you some!
And that’s the other thing – sometimes we don’t get what we ask for that first time. Sometimes people can’t help, won’t help, don’t know how to help…but don’t stop there. Asked for a promotion and they said no? OK, keep working and ask again! (Like, maybe not the very next day, but you know what I mean). I believe that the quality of our lives is directly proportional to our willingness to ask those tough asks and engage in those tough conversations in service of getting what it is we really truly want.
That moment – deciding to ask for what you want, or say what you need – is that moment that Brené Brown always talks about where you choose courage over comfort, where you choose to get in the arena instead of a bench spot in the cheap seats.
**Nod to my own coach, who is constantly working with me around the topic of vulnerability. I like to think of myself as strong, independent, self-sufficient and just a general ass-kicker. Well it turns out even ass-kickers feel nervous and scared and want things they’re not willing to say plainly for fear of not getting it. So I’m here to call myself on it publicly, hopefully in service of you doing the same for yourself. Now go out there and get what you want by asking for it.