6 Best Ways to Get What You Want

Man stading in the middle of a dirt road at sunset.

This may come off sounding like an extremely selfish topic for a blog post. In a way it is, just not the way you might be thinking. Sometimes “getting what you want” can be seen as a negative self centered idea. Ideally, a great person should be giving and kind and not concerned too much about themselves or what they want.

However, I think I am looking at this from a unique perspective. An example of “getting what you want” could be providing a meal for a needy family or teaching someone how to handle a task for themselves that others had previously done for them. It doesn’t have to be a narcissistic exercise. In a very real way “getting what you want” is what we are about all day every day. Even if it is consumed with helping others and eschewing things for ourselves, it is what we want and have chosen to do.

I am conveniently leaving out the reality that many people are forced to do things they don’t want to do every day. That is a very real circumstance for many in this world. I think the vast majority of us in this day and age are able to live out our days with relative freedom to do and choose what we want to do. We all want something. Our wants are as diverse as we are as a people. And I believe the following tips will help you in realizing your wants no matter what they are.

1. Ask

Also known as the first rule of negotiation. If you don’t ask for it, you won’t get it. It is almost impossible for something to appear out of thin air just because the thought crossed your mind. You will be amazed at how much you can accomplish if you just ask. So many of us are afraid to ask for fear of being rejected or out of some cultural idea that it isn’t appropriate to do so. If you can get over that fear then the sky is the limit.

I was taught this principle by a man I used to work for, Author Richard Paul Evans. He wrote a book called, “The 5 Lessons a Millionaire Taught Me About Life and Wealth.”  One of the things said millionaire taught was to ask, “Is that the best you can do for me?” when participating in just about any transaction. It is amazing what people will do for you when you ask this simple question. It doesn’t have to be confrontational like you are driving a hard bargain. It’s just a simple question. If they say “no,” then you smile, say thanks, and move on.

This isn’t to say that you will get everything you want just by asking for it. It is more of a tool you can use to get further down the path to achieving something. If rejected, quickly move on to the next method of going after what you want. Don’t let the rejection stop you. You will be able to just file away the thought that at least you asked first.

2. Be prepared to handle it

This is one that most people don’t think of and is a surprisingly new concept to many. Have you ever had an experience where you thought you wanted something and then went to work getting it only to realize maybe it wasn’t such a great thing to want in the first place? Some people go after fame only to realize later that they have lost their privacy and their ability to move about freely. Or, seeking a big promotion only to find out that the requirements of the new job don’t really jive with what they saw for their career. One of the first things we should think about when deciding we want something is to ask ourselves if we are ready to deal with whatever comes with that thing.

A common material thing wanted and then regretted are boats. Many people love the ‘idea’ of having a boat. They fall in love with the idea of being out on the water with family and friends, and being able to see beautiful places and enjoy the world in a new way. Then the costs and the problems of storage and maintenance hit and it’s not such a great idea anymore. A little research and study into what it takes to own and maintain a boat before purchasing would prepare one to know what they are getting into. Maybe they would realize it would be too much for them and that an occasional boat rental would satisfy their wants better. Maybe the ‘costs’ wouldn’t scare one away but now you are prepared when they do come up. The bottom line is that a little thinking and preparation before you actually get your ‘want’ will go a long way towards your happiness after you get it.

3. Persistence

One of the most common things in this life is deciding you want something, going after it, and then giving up on the idea at the first sign of difficulty. It gets explained away as “well, maybe I didn’t really want that after all.” That may actually be true but I suspect more often than not it’s not the whole story. How great a feeling it is when we work hard for something and go through a lot of pain to get it and then when we finally achieve it we feel like we’ve conquered the world! Knowing before you start working toward something that you will be faced with challenges and difficulties will help you get through them easier.

That being said, a key part of being persistent is knowing when to actually quit. Some people will just never give up. This is often looked at as a virtue and a strength. It is actually a weakness. The real strength is developing the skill of discernment to know when it’s time to turn the persistence off and move on. “I never gave up and persisted till I got what I wanted therefore it was right and good.” That is the generally accepted belief but it is oftentimes wrong. Not getting what you want is seen as failure. A smart person sees that ‘failure’ as a lesson. A lesson in learning better what they really want and changing course to achieve it. In short, don’t give up but know when to give up. Sounds contradictory but it isn’t.

4. Set goals, Track, Scoreboard

A goal not written down is just a wish. We have all heard that at least a thousand times. It may not be 100% true but it carries a lot of weight. Writing something down is a very physical way to commit to something. Psychologically it flips a switch in your head and makes it more real. Now you have some accountability. To yourself. You should also share your goals with others such as a close loved one or a trusted colleague and take that accountability to the next level.

A part of setting goals that often gets forgotten and left out is tracking and score boarding. Tracking our progress toward getting something we want is crucial for success. Scoreboarding is a practice where you take any metrics associated with your goal and display them somewhere easy to see. Hence the use of the word ‘scoreboard.’ It is a near constant reminder of how you are doing against your goals. For example, if you were working towards a college degree you could track your remaining credit hours needed for graduation. Display the number where you will see it often and it will remind you how much further you have to go and will motivate you to keep up your efforts. Some things are harder to track than others but many things you want have some kind of number associated with them. Saving money for a boat for example. Put that number somewhere visible and you may choose to skip an ‘eat-out’ and have tuna sandwiches one night so that you can reach your boat goal sooner. Out of sight out of mind definitely applies here.

5. Study people that have what you want

No matter what it is you want there is likely someone else out there that has it or has achieved it before you. Study those people. Try to learn how they achieved what you are trying to achieve. What did they have to do to be successful in getting what they wanted? Find out the challenges and difficulties they faced. If you can, talk to them and ask them what they would do differently. This simple step can help you avoid wasting a lot of time, effort, and even money in getting what you want. This step has an element of step 1. Ask. Simple conversations with people can teach you a lot. A lot of people will admire your interest and might even offer to help you to achieve your goals.

6. Help others get what they want

I believe in Karma, reaping what you sow, the Golden Rule or whatever you choose to call it. Serving and helping others will earn you blessings from the universe. What you do and how you treat others really will come back to you. It’s impossible to quantify, and you may never know exactly when the universe pays up. Spending time helping others to achieve what they want will have 2 effects. 1. You will build up good Karma that can help you in your efforts to achieve what you want. And, 2, it will help you learn. You will learn what motivates others and what different ways there are to get things done in this world.

There is a catch however. Serving others with the sole purpose of helping yourself will backfire. You must honestly and with a genuine heart seek to help others overcome their challenges and achieve what they are striving for. There is a secret side benefit I will share with you now. Service to others has an effect of changing the things you want. You might end up deciding that boat isn’t such a great idea after all.


The main point I am trying to get across with this topic is that if you go at getting what you want in a haphazard, unorganized way then it will be a minor miracle if you actually accomplish anything. The old adage, “If you don’t know where you are headed, every road will get you there” applies here. Setting a goal for a want, asking for that want, persisting towards the want, preparing yourself to receive that want, studying others who already have what you want, and helping others get what they want will get you most of the way to getting what you want. However, sometimes things just aren’t meant to be. After a concerted effort following these steps you can assure yourself that is true because you will have done everything you can to make it happen. Good luck in your efforts to get what you want and I sincerely hope you ‘want’ and ‘get’ good things.

Let me know what you think and share your own tips for getting what you want in the comments.

About K.G. Carter

Kevin is an author, artist and blogger. He survived a 20+ year career in software development and technical management while working for Fortune 500 companies Microsoft, Adobe and Novell and subsequently several small startups. Kevin now spends his time writing and creating. You can find his artwork on Etsy at The Indigo Comma and his writing on the Amazon Bookstore and the Apple iBooks Store. Kevin blogs at Clariticity.


  1. Blair Williams says:

    Wise, wise words my friend. Thanks.