There was a time when I didn’t think it was possible to have the life I wanted. But I’ve finally figured out the secret to going after what you want

Original photo by Andrew Neel 

Spoilers: You just do it.

I know that seems less than helpful, so I’m going to go on for a bunch more words about how you actually do it. But just know that there is no magic pill. There’s no secret society you need to join. There is no one way to get there. You just keep working toward it until you get where you want to be.

Now, before we go much further, you need to know something about me. I used to be one of those whiny complainers who thought that you couldn’t actually have what you wanted and that there were only opportunities for a select few — the well-connected people from a level of privilege that is higher than mine.

Now, while I won’t say that some people don’t have more privilege than others or that this privilege won’t help people get where they’re going a lot faster than those without it, I will say this: You can do it too, you know.

So for those you rolling your eyes in the back of the room, know that you are welcome to keep doing that. But at the end of the day, it just makes you look like a whiny complainer in the back of the room who won’t take responsibility for their own actions. So if you want something, you go get it. You make it happen. You do what you need to do to get there.

So if you want something, you go get it. You make it happen. You do what you need to do to get there. Click To Tweet

You don’t talk shit in the back and act like the world is against you.

Instead, you make a plan and then you execute the plan. That’s it.

And because I can tell that you’re really skeptical right now, I’m going to break it down for the people in the back who aren’t quite on board yet.

(And if you want to keep talking shit in the back, that’s fine. Just know that me and my gang of folks who actually do shit will be making our way to the stage and you’ll still be sitting in the back rolling your eyes. You choose, bucko.)

The Secret to Going After What You Want

It’s worth noting here that the secret I’m referring to is mostly a mindset. It’s the type of thing that makes it possible for you to get where you’re going. Because, as cliché as it sounds, if you don’t believe, then it’s not going to happen.

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So, while I’m about to give you two steps to actually going after what you want, I’m going to tell you this up front — you have to believe you can do it. You have to wake up in the morning and remind yourself that your goal isn’t to achieve anything other than getting what you want. Regardless of what your boss or friends or family say.

And you have to keep this belief going for YEARS. It’s tough, but it’s possible. And eventually, it will carry you through.

And if all that sounds too hard, you can give up. No one will ever fault you for it. In fact, you’ll be surprised by how many people reward you. But if it doesn’t feel right, and you still think about what it was that you wanted, you may reconsider.

No judgment. Everyone is free to do what they want.

But if you find that you want something more than you have and that you can’t be happy without the projects or and big plans, then you owe it to yourself to keep reading.

And if you haven’t thought about how to change your life completely or how to live the life you want, it may be time to think about those things.

Make a Plan

Hello. My name is Marisa, and if I could figure out a way for my planners to have planners, I totally would. And while I know that paper planning isn’t for everyone, you need to plan when you go after the life that you want.

It doesn’t have to be on paper, but it needs to be laid out.

Here’s the deal with going after what you want — there isn’t a clear path. Or maybe there is. But I’ve found that for a lot of people of my generation, there isn’t a clear path that matches the path that we’ve been told about our whole lives.

That was a really wordy way to say that you probably aren’t going to climb the corporate ladder the way your parents did. Even if you went to the right schools and got the degrees, there’s a good chance that there aren’t the same amount of opportunities for you. Or, you may just be competing with AI that a company doesn’t have to pay.

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Whatever the career path, I would argue that there are more obstacles than ways to succeed.

Whatever the career path, I would argue that there are more obstacles than ways to succeed. Click To Tweet

Want to make a life as a full-time writer? Want to start your own business? How about create a full-time, location-independent source of income? Whatever it is, you have to plan.

So, I wish I could say that this was the easy part. It’s not. Because every plan you make will change ten million times as you adapt to what’s going on around you.

And the first plan you make? Definitely won’t carry you through to the end because everything is always changing.

Instead, here’s what you need to ask yourself:

  1. What do I want to do every single day for the rest of my life?
  2. If money were no object, what would I do?
  3. What’s my unfair advantage?

Simple enough, right?

Once you’ve answered those questions, then you can build your plan. Knowing what you want to do for the rest of your life enables you to plan how to get to that place. Knowing what you would do if money were no object tells you what you are meant to do, regardless of whether or not capitalism agrees. And finding your unfair advantage is how you’re going to get there.

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So, for me, I know I want to write every single day for the rest of my life. If money were no object, I would read all day and just have one of those grandiose, slow, writerly lives that you see in the movies. You know — when they show a writer who lives in a really comfortable house with tons of books and this writer doesn’t freak out about money. And my unfair advantage? Well. I can write about 5,000 words an hour on a slow day. So that means that I have to exploit that advantage to get me where I know I’m meant to be.

Now, this isn’t a plan, per se. You have to take this information and formulate the plan. I can’t show you mine, just because it’s messy and it’s evolved 16 times since Sunday. But, if you take a look at my Instagram feed, you’ll get an idea of it. (I haven’t done 4 speaking gigs so far this year for nothing. Also, if you want some speaking gigs too, check out this blog post.)

And if you want to see my plan for the next quarter, watch this video:

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Execute the Plan

Now, have you created a super messy list of things to do? Did you create a mind map that is definitely not a direct route to where you want to go? Are you more confused than you were when you started reading this post?

Good. The plan is working.

Here’s the thing. You never know if your plan is good. That’s why going after what you want is so fucking hard. Like, think of it this way: If it were easy, everyone would be a best-selling author/professional dancer/have one of those photoshopped-looking bodies.

Have you ever driven on a super rainy night, and your headlights didn’t seem bright enough to show you the way and your windshield wipers didn’t even create a dent in the amount of water that was streaming over your windshield? That’s how we’re navigating here.

It’s not ideal, but it’s the way it is.

So, when I say execute the plan, here’s what I’m saying:

  1. Do what you can with what you have.
  2. Be ready to make drastic changes as soon as you find new information.
  3. Keep the destination in sight.

And that’s it, really. That’s how you execute the plan. It’s not a direct route, but it’s the way to do it. And as long as you’re adaptable and remember what you’re working for, you’re going to get there.

It’s not going to happen fast. Burn out will happen and you will need to step away some days. But if you really want it, you come back.

Burn out will happen and you will need to step away some days. But if you really want it, you come back. Click To Tweet

And if you really want it, you change how you approach it often. And you just keep going.

Don’t keep going at it with the same tools and methods and then get mad when you don’t get where you want to be. You’re a growth hacker now. That means you try new things all the time to see what might work best for you.

What’s Your Secret to Going for What You Want?

Tell me what your plan looks like. Are you staying the course? Is your windshield more fogged up than usual? That’s okay, friend. Know that I regularly bust out my proverbial windshield in an attempt to scream directly at the rain as it pours down on me.

4 Responses

  1. Ah. Marisa dishing out some serious tough love. I’m all in for this shit!

    You know (or at least have a solid idea) how much I’ve been struggling. Struggling to write, survive, make it to the next day, whatever. And like you I used to be one of those whiny complainers. Ok, I kinda still am. But I’m hellbent on getting out of that and being a doer, not a whiner. I’m definitely not where I want to be yet, but I am getting closer. Hand me my planner. I’ve got shit to do.

    1. You got this! And remember, it’s always hardest to get over the whining hump. Once you’re over it, it gets a lot easier.

  2. Oh hello Marisa.
    Former whiner, complainer here, (let’s be real, I still have those errent thoughts that need to be shot down).
    Love this, and you’re spot on, as usual.
    Want something?
    Work for it.
    Wade through the crap that always happens, keep your eyes on your planned path and just do it. lol
    Usually if you can do it with a good mindset, it’s easier (mentally easier, I mean).

    Anywho, thanks for this reminder! I love re-evaluating my plans each quarter, it keeps me focused on my goals.

    Which is to conquer the world.
    One word at a time.

    My super power? I can fast draft like my computer is burning.

    Happy Summer solstice,
    🙂
    Peggy

    1. Love that you can fast draft like that! And you’re totally right about the mindset. It makes everything easier.

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