How to Get What You REALLY Want

How to Get What You REALLY Want

Rather listen than read? Click below:

What You REALLY Want

Last week I wrote about the nine steps it takes to “Play Big.”  The first one, which actually relates to virtually every one of us, was “Take your head out of the sand.”

I’m going to assume that you did.

So, now that you’ve taken your head out of the sand, are you ready to draw a line in the sand?

Follow along with me.

Most people today don’t know what they really want.  They think they do.  They can make a list of things they’d buy if they could.  They know what they’d do with a million bucks if they won the lottery.  They know the house they’d buy if they got lucky and their businesses shot off the charts.

But is that what they really want?  Or is it what they think they want?  You see …

A recent Texas A&M study says a person is bombarded by 850 commercial messages a day, on average.”

So, much of what fills people’s wish lists is driven by “externals,” by what they see and hear about.  From TV, ads on smart phones, websites, billboards, from what friends have or talk about.  I know, I know.  It sounds so superficial…

Why?  Because it is.

By keeping people’s wish lists long, advertisers know they can keep them in a perpetual state of discontent.  They never have enough.  There’s always a newer iPad, a thinner mobile device, a sleeker car, hotter jeans.  Better … faster … cooler … more awesome.

Are you thinking “hamster on a wheel” yet?

Want to know how to get off?


Sit quietly with a pad of paper and list everything you think you want.  Do a brain dump.  List absolutely everything you can think of.  Be sure to also take the time to go inside and look at what’s most important to you.  What will bring you joy not just in the short term, but also feed into later joy?  What touches your core, your values?  Don’t write down what you think you should want.  This is your secret list.

Once you’re done, start picking out any two things on the list.  Decide which of the two is more important to you and cross off the other one.

Do that until you have just three things left on your list.

These three are the things that will bring you the greatest happiness when you achieve them.  It doesn’t matter what they are; everyone’s three will be different.  But they are what will truly drive you to achieve.  And everything else on the list (all those things you crossed off) should be things you would gladly sacrifice in order to obtain or achieve your special three.

Now it’s time to draw the proverbial line in the sand.

For each of the three, set a deadline of when you could reasonably fulfill them, whatever they are.  Stretch yourself a bit.  Write the three things, plus their deadlines, on a clean piece of paper and save it somewhere.  And make a commitment to yourself that, come hell or high water, you are going to meet those deadlines.

Then get ready for the obstacles.  Expect things to go wrong.  If you fall down, get back up, brush off your shins and keep going.

Nothing really important comes easy.

By the way, no one needs to know what’s on your short list.

But as you obtain or achieve them, one by one, you will understand what real fulfillment is.  You’ll understand priorities.  You’ll know what focus is.

And you’ll be infinitely happier than the people still chasing every shiny object thrown in their path.

Then you can either pity them, or share this little exercise with them.

I think I know which one you’ll do.

(Let me know below …)




Bio: Sharon O’Day lost everything at age 53: her home, her business, everything. But how could that be? She’s an expert in global finance and marketing with an MBA from the Wharton School. She has worked with governments, corporations, and individuals … yes, she was the secret “weapon,” if you will, behind many individuals in high places. Yet she did! Since then, with her finances completely turned around, Sharon has gone on to interview countless women. She’s done extensive research to understand how that could have happened, especially with her strong knowledge of numbers and finance.

The surprising answers will be shared in her upcoming book “Money After Menopause.” Today her mission is to show as many women as possible how to become financially free for the long term, through her “Over Fifty and Financially Free” coaching programs. She has developed a step-by-step plan to get past all the obstacles that keep women broke and scared … and from reaching the financial peace of mind they so deserve … if they’re willing to do what it takes!

  • Stacey

    Great exercise!!  This would be great for my teen too!

    • Anonymous

      You’re right, Stacey, it’s a great decision-making tool for all sorts of things … and for all ages.

  • Sharon, that is a great exercise!  It is a hard but simple way to really focus on what is important.  Thank you for this important reminder to stop floundering around.

    • Anonymous

      We don’t have time to flounder, Pat!  Miles to go before we sleep, miles to go … 😉

  • Clarity about what will really make a difference in my life helps me make a plan and stick to it. There is a big difference in what we need, or want and desire. Desire is the biggest pull and can make a difference in our life. But you are so right, being willing to take personal responsibility with our finances and all other aspects help us step into our power in a good way. Thank you for all the good ideas!

    • Anonymous

      If anyone understands the importance of clarity, MarVeena, it’s you!  After all, doesn’t “clairvoyant” mean “seeing clearly?”  [Comes from French, 13th century, from “clair” (or clear) + voyant (or seeing)] 😉

  • Cat

    This is great! I often start listing things I want to do, but get lost with too many things. THis is a great way to narrow my focus and concentrate on what is really important.

    • Anonymous

      I use this “comparative” means of narrowing down options for so many things, Cat … including my investments.

  • I am looking forward to settling in tonight with my pen and paper and creating my list…you are absolutely right when you say when we think of what we want we typically go for the shiny objects. Your exercise will be a great guide to get past that. Thanks Sharon!

    • Anonymous

      Denny, don’t forget to teach this tool to your grandchildren.  It’s useful for just about everything!

  • I love how you ask the tough questions, about what we really want, do we even know, and what is influencing us. We have to become so intentional to achieve what we dream about and desire. The first step is definitely taking our head out of the sand! I love this rock-solid advice.

    • Anonymous

      Michelle, as a society we’ve stopped asking ourselves the tough questions.  As I see it, what’s called for today is that we be honest and proactive.  And we can’t do that effectively without asking those tough questions first …

  • Diane Dolinsky-Pickar

    I am a little afraid that my list of what is most important to me will scare me when I look at it. Do you have any suggestions how to bring my courage up, to do this exercise?

    • Anonymous

      Truth?  I’m doing some mind- and soul-diving these days, including Debbie Ford’s program “The Shadow Effect” (“…journey from your darkest thought to your greatest dream”).  Whenever I find myself holding back, I remind myself that the price of not knowing is greater than the price of knowing …

      • Diane Dolinsky-Pickar

        Sharon, it is touching to read your words, and I appreciate your bare honesty. We are all in the same boat at least from time-to-time. Like yesterday, when later in the evening I just sent around a little email that said, ‘please help me a little…’ Today, I do feel better.

  • “By keeping people’s wish lists long, advertisers know they can keep them in a perpetual state of discontent.” I never thought of this in exactly this way, Sharon. Although this post stopped me in my tracks today, as a copywriter I must shake it off and keep moving. However this message helps me stay “real” for my clients and their customers. Thanks for the jolt! 

    • Jen, I spent some time trying to understand how some people with so much were dissatisfied and how some who had so little seemed satisfied and fulfilled.  Eventually I realized they each had different definitions of abundance and, most of all, different priorities.  My next challenge was, “So how do we help them identify their priorities?” This exercise was the answer …

  • Shahina Lakhani

    Love this article. It always helps to get some clarity and then act on what you find is your passion.

    • You’re right, Shahina.  It takes both vision AND action to make things happen!

  • A timely exercise Sharon.  This is definitely something I need to and will do!

  • What a great plan and way to clear out all the good ideas to get to the GREAT ideas/goals! 

  • Joseann Freyer-Lindner

    I was just reading your post on “Suze Orman and what about me” where you ask those three questions: what do you believe, what do you have, what do you want?
    With respect to believing, is it smart to believe this: “Then get ready for the obstacles.  Expect things to go wrong.” and “Nothing really important comes easy.” I find these beliefs pretty astonishing, basically saying: if something is easy, it can’t be important. And: if something is difficult, it must be important. Why? If it is true that “as you believe, thy shall be done onto you”, then why believe this? What’s wrong with something being easy? And why is “difficult” an indication for “importance”? Couldn’t “easiness” be a sign for “being in the flow” and operating from our strengths?

  • What a great way to begin another New Year, Sharon… I did what you suggested last year, when this article was first written, and it really helped! A year later, I can say that I’ve received everything that I wanted…. but there’s no way I could have planned for so much of it to happen.

    This year, 2013, I’m bumping up my expectations to believe for even bigger things. I’m going to plan as much as I can, but also knowing that God has mysterious ways of giving us gifts that we could never anticipate happening to us…. I really love what you’re doing on your blog, Sharon. It’s such a great springboard to launch into our destinies!