7 Ways to Get What You Want From Life

Call me a Pollyanna, but I believe you can create the life you want (within reason). I don’t believe in magic or pseudo-science, but I do know what has worked for me, and I’ve studied what works for others.

7 Ways to Get What You Want From Life

1. Set Goals – This is fundamental. But you know what? Huge numbers of people fail to do it and they wonder why their lives have no direction. You need to give yourself direction by pointing the ship of life toward your new world. You are never going to get anywhere unless you decide where you want to go. Put your goals in writing, post them in plain view, and read them frequently.

2. Visualize – Use your creative imagination. Imagine what life would look like if you had already reached your goals. Imagine in detail. I’m not talking about living in fantasyland where your dead mother comes back to life or you have magical powers which turn lead into gold. Imagine what is possible for you. No one can say what is possible for you, except you. Maybe you’ll own a graphic design company or build a successful relationship. Maybe you’ll build a dragster or ride a motorcycle across Russia. Maybe you’ll start a new political party or build a homeless shelter. Visualize your future as if it were happening right now. Visualize it in detail. This has worked well for me: Create the future you want in writing. Write it in a first person present tense narrative. Include every detail you can imagine. When I look back at my writings, it is uncanny how much of it has come true.

3. Act – Sitting in an armchair imagining a wonderful life isn’t going to make it happen. After setting your goals and visualizing the end result, your first action should be creating a plan. Planning is the bridge between creative imagination and implementation. You have to act on your ideas. The homeless shelter isn’t going to build itself. The girl of your dreams is not going to walk in your front door. If you want a new relationship, get out and meet some people. You might have to read Dale Carnegie or join Toastmasters International. You might have to attend conferences, join a church, or get a job. It all depends on what you want. Become a planner and a doer. Create a plan, write it down, and act on it.

4. Accept – Don’t be stubborn and rigid. Don’t try to force life down your specific path. Things will not be easy and they won’t go as planned. Be flexible and ready to change. This might sound contradictory to previous points, but it isn’t. Set your goals, visualize them, act on them, but be willing to accept that the journey will pull you in different directions. You may find, over time, that you no longer want the things you thought you wanted. Let’s say you set a goal to make millions selling software to Apple Computer, but after a few years your company is evolving into a service company which maintains cloud computing infrastructure. You and your partners find this new direction rewarding both financially and personally, so you chop the software piece of the business and alter your plan. Also, if you have big goals in life, you need to delegate portions of your current responsibilities and that takes trust and acceptance. Other people will take you in directions you hadn’t imagined before. Accept others and their plans and it will help you reach your goals.

5. Learn From Others – I hate to tell you this, but you don’t know squat. None of us do. We all lie to ourselves, telling ourselves we really know what is going on here, but we don’t. Maybe the lie keeps us sane. So be humble, because even if you are the smartest person on earth you don’t know .0001% of what is happening on this planet. You know even less about what is happening in the universe. But collectively we do know a lot. That’s why we need networks and communities. To get what you want from life you need the help of others who have achieved the things you want. I used to think ‘not knowing’ the answer was a weakness (a stupid idea we all learn in school), it isn’t. Not knowing is an opportunity to learn. I also thought I had to do all the work myself (another stupid concept stressed in school), I don’t.  Remember, most people love to talk about themselves and they love to help. Don’t go it alone. Ask for help. The bigger your goal the more help you’ll need.

6. Be Persistent – Get rich quick schemes are a scam. It is rare when life yields quick easy results. Life rewards inner strength. It rewards determination. It takes years of trial and error, multiple-failures, and major setbacks for most people to get what they want. And most people quit just before they are about to realize success. If you’ve ever lived in a northern climate, you know winter doesn’t feel as cold in December as it does in March. Every March I complain and contemplate moving to Texas. It always feels coldest just before spring.  Each person I’ve met who has realized their dreams had very dark moments through which they persevered. Seth Godin calls this The Dip. It creates scarcity because few people make it through The Dip.

7. Learn to Disarm Your Inner Critic – We all have this little voice inside our heads which criticizes us. Some people’s critics are stronger than others. Your Inner Critic can stop you before you get started or sabotage you along the way. This is the part of you that says you aren’t worthy of success. It is the part that makes you feel guilty when you win. It is the part that protects you from anxiety by preventing you from facing your fears. But to succeed you must face your fears. It judges others who are successful and finds fault with them. It creates excuses. It tells you why you can’t, but never tells you why you can. It says you don’t really want success, because the trade-offs are too great. Your inner critic shreds your self-esteem.

So how do you disarm your inner critic?

It is too complex to explain in this post so I recommend you buy this book, Self-Esteem by Matthew McKay and Patrick Fanning (Hat Tip to Chris Brogan). It’s a must read for anyone living a conscious life.

“I bargained with Life for a penny,
And Life would pay no more,
However I begged at evening
When I counted my scanty store.

.      .      .      .      .      .

“For Life is a just employer;
He gives you what you ask,
But once you have set the wages,
Why, you must bear the task.

“I worked for a menial’s hire,
Only to learn, dismayed,
That any wage I had asked of Life,
Life would have paid.”

Jessie B. Rittenhouse

This post has been entered in the Killer Titles – Group Writing Project at Problogger.net.

27 thoughts on “7 Ways to Get What You Want From Life”

  1. I was just telling some of my students #5 today. I was recalling how with every job I’ve ever had, although I knew the technical aspects of a machine on which I was working probably better than anyone else around, I always relied on the machine operator a lot. I asked them bunches of questions because no one knows more about the nuances of something than the person who is with it every day. That is a very useful lesson for anyone who is learning to be a technician, which is why I shared it with my students.

  2. #2 gets you prepared for success. I think, many of us didn’t think about how to handle success. That’s how some singers/actors have so many problems after they got famous and rich. They weren’t ready to handle the fame and money. Some of us, though, didn’t even reach that stage. We just start to sabotage ourselves before the success comes, because we don’t know how to handle it. So I think visualizing what it’s like when you reach your goal is very important.

    One time my roommate was going on a date, and he said “what if it turns out bad?” I asked him, “what if it turns out good? Then what?”

  3. Hi, I clicked over from ProBlogger – your title caught my eye, and your list was right on the mark! I think I have tried all seven of these at various points, but I am definitely better at some than others and want to work on mastering them and being able to do them all at the same time!

  4. Visualizing is very important. I was taking a class where the teacher said that visualizing your future is like doing a puzzle – you need the picture of what the puzzle will look like in the end to know where to put all of the pieces. Hence, if you live life with a pictured goal, you will know how to get there faster and more effectively.

  5. #6 is probably the most important. You really have to keep going.

    I know a couple of rich people, and none of them made their money with get rich schemes, all of them in years of continous work and steady progress.

  6. For me, the hardest parts are visualizing and disarming my inner critic. I like how you’ve laid this out in procession. It’s a great reminder for me of what I need to work on in my life to get to where I desire to be.

  7. This is great tips everyone should read.
    No pseudoscience “law of attraction” BS which doesn’t exist at all (I know several quantum physicists) I know for a fact science do NOT point in any direction that the universe is our personal santa claus.
    It’s good to know the blunt truth instead of living in comferting “fantasyland”, living in your dreams will never get you there!

    Keep it going man, inspiring blog

  8. David,
    I don’t believe the universe is our personal Santa Claus. However I do believe in the LOA. I’ve observed it in my life and the lives of others. You clearly become what you think about.

    I wouldn’t call it pseudoscience. It is observable and repeatable.

    But I don’t care who you are, no one really knows how the future becomes the present or where the past goes. So you can’t be sure where good things or bad things come from. We know we can create the future with action in the present. And we can’t act until we think. So thoughts are the first step in creating your future. What you think is the essence of you.

  9. Sure I agree in “that sense” but there is no waves your thoughts send out to the universe as “law of attraction” states, that’s all BS.
    i’ve spoken in person with the quantum phyicists and philosophers who were mis-quoted in both What the bleep do we know and The Secret and they all say LOA IS A BUNCH OF BULLSHIT.
    Secret of getting rich? make a book, call it the secret, who get rich? the one who made the book

    The reason Im so against LoA is because Ive seen it KILL people with mental illness(through suicide) such as OCD and hypochondriacs
    If LoA was true, thinking you got cancer would give it to you.

    Luckily it’s a bunch of pseudo-magic (cant even call it scifi).

  10. I think it’s sad you removed me from commenting further here, shows same type of scumbag scam-artist your trying to protect.

    LoA do NOT exist, if it did, every hypochondriac on earth would DIE.
    Ofcourse what you think and do shapes your life as you go along, but theres no LAW OF ATTRACTIOn involved, that’s just psychotic to even believe.
    But that your attitude and actions is what yields results are common sense you learn in kindergarden, and somehow forget throughout adulthood

  11. Steve said-“You clearly become what you think about”.

    You know Steve, I totally believe that myself. As you’ve stated as well, you’ve seen good enough proof within your own life. I’ve also seen a lot of this in my own life.

    This is a very good post, and a great reminder to people who are trying to attain certain goals. I enjoyed it!

    I believe I’ll send a link back to this post a little later on. I know a post like this could help a lot of people out there.



  12. It’s amazing how discussions can often degenerate into name calling. I mean seriously, David, “…shows same type of scumbag scam-artist your trying to protect.” ?

    For starters, I have high doubts that Steve is a scumbag. His writing helps me stay focused on what’s important to me, and his testimonies on his life lead by example. Actually, that sounds like an upstanding citizen. And scam-artist? Do you think he gets a kick-back? Incidentally, I always loved that famous New Yorker cartoon whose caption was, “On the Internet, no one knows you’re a dog.” It turns out that actually, everyone is a cynic, thinking everyone else is up to the worst possible good, except them. And cynic used to mean dog, so the cartoon is as right as rain.

    Anyways, none of this is why I stopped in to comment.

    Steve! Anyone who starts a post with Pollyanna and ends with poetry gets my nod. You start with a defense of why you’re not as overly optimistic as this might sound, then end by telling us that if we want what we want from life…

    …we need only ask.

    Terrific job.

  13. Dereck,

    Thanks for your comments. I love your stuff too. You know I’ve struggled with this law of attraction idea myself. I know it’s true – to a degree. But if you sit around on the couch eating ho-hos and watching the Olympics imagining you’re a world class swimmer, your imagination won’t make it happen. That is pure fantasy. However, if you don’t get your mind focused your ass won’t follow. Follow?

    Too many people are waiting around to die and it’s sad. I say this to them, “Focus your thoughts, get your butt in gear and do something with yourself.” I mean, what else are you going to do? What other choice do you have?

    David needs to lighten up. He’s taken the science thing a little too seriously. Just step back a moment and try to contemplate what you don’t know. Well.. that’s just about everything.

  14. Glad you like it. I still feel like I’m only warming up. Anyways…

    On the law of attraction. I hate to admit this, but I haven’t seen The Secret (I don’t generally watch television), and I haven’t read the books about it, but I’ve read a lot about it on the web. As far as I can tell, I don’t know what the big beef is all about. Here’s why:

    The detractors of the concept (especially those who diagnose the science behind it as incompatible with physics), miss one major point: most lay people aren’t using the science behind it. The people who can benefit from it aren’t treating it like a religion.

    The simple idea behind it is that the thoughts in your head have a major consequence: they spread to your limbs.

    That should be enough. I’m pretty scientifically-minded and I would still fully endorse a view like that. I mean come on! It’s common sense. If you think about all the crap you can’t do, then you’ll just sit there wallowing inside the little cage of a life you just erected. If you think about the possibilities, you might take some of them up.

    Ironically, I’m writing about something similar to this as we speak. Hope to have it up today or tomorrow. I’ll send you a shout, let me know what you think. P.S. Are you on blog catalog? I couldn’t find you there.

  15. I like your point, #6. Be Persistent. A good step taken from 1 to 5 is nothing if we give up quickly. Persistence is the key of all success.

  16. Excellent article Steve. The Law of Attraction, or creating your reality, goes back to The Vedas. The movie The Secret is a compilation of speakers who have picked up on much of the eastern/western thought schools that state “it is as you believe”. Kind of the Cliff notes. Your breakdown of daring to imagine, and the steps of organizing a follow up plan is simple and do-able. A good reminder for us all. Thanks!

  17. #7 is what I struggle with the most. It’s hard when you’re a perfectionist but I’ve learned to be more forgiving of my mistakes.

    But #3 is my favorite because while I agree that to “think is to create” I also know hat to act is to achieve.

    Thanks for sharing these tips!

  18. I have to agree with people who say there is no Law Of Attraction. I don’t really understand what it means though. If you think positively then you do get better results, though it’s nothing magical or paranormal.

    You have to make sure that you organise yourself well. Good organisation is key to any task.


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