How To Get What You Want (it’s a lot easier than you think)

You want to get what you want, right? We all do! Sure, there are lots of productivity tips and tips for reaching goals that will help. But if you're not doing this one thing, you might be wasting your time.


Earlier this year, a reader emailed me to juuuuuust casually mention that some advice I’d given had changed her life.

Obviously, I had to cry about that for awhile. But after I’d calmed down and reapplied my eye makeup, I re-read her email. What was it that tipped her life in the direction she dreamed of?

It was one sentence in a free workbook I created: “Now that you know what you want, tell people about it.”

That’s it! That’s it.  Our girl told two people about the career switch she wanted to make. They both sent her the same job posting, she applied for it, got it, and in December she started her dream job.

It sounds deceptively simple, doesn’t it? But how many of us sit quietly on our dreams, devotedly hoping that someone or something will fall into our laps? How many of us chat with friends about tv shows and travel plans while our brain is screaming “I HAVE A THING I’M EXCITED ABOUT AND I WANT TO TALK ABOUT IT WITH PEOPLE WHO LOVE ME!!!”

(everyone ever raises their hand)

People want to help us! The people who love you and know you, want you to get what you want.
We can’t help you get what you want if you don’t tell us that you want it. Click To Tweet

If you want to get what you want, here’s why talking about it helps

1.When we say things out loud, it makes them more ‘real’ + we take them more seriously

Ruminating quietly about creating an ecourse? That’s an idea. Or a dream.

Telling a group of my professional peers “I want to create an ecourse that changes the way people think about money and happiness”? Welp, I guess I’m doing this. 

At the risk of sounding like a total hippie, when we say what we want out loud, we’re speaking our dreams into existence. We’re giving them form and shape. We’re talking through them while the people we love look on and take note.  We’re planting a proverbial flag in the ground of our goals and saying “This! This is the thing I want!”

2. When we share our plans + goals, we’re enlisting support

If I don’t know what you want, I can’t send you job leads or introduce you to friends who can help or send you links to helpful articles.

If you don’t tell me what you want, I can’t ask“So how’s that going?” If you haven’t told me what you’re working towards, I can’t say “What’s up with that? How are things progressing?” If you tell 20 people that you’re training for a marathon, you’ve just created your own support and accountability group.

Sidenote: When your friend is unemployed, unhappily single, or trying to get pregnant, I think it’s best to let them bring up any progress they’ve made. If they find a job, meet someone, or get pregnant, they will let you know.

3. Once we’ve made our plans public, we might be too embarrassed to give up

I don’t know about you, but shame is, uh, VERY MOTIVATING for me. If I tell everyone I’m going to take ballet classes, I will take the damn classes. I cannot handle the shame of making excuses to 15 different people.

If I tell my clients I’m changing my business model I have to change my business model. It’s way too embarrassing to send them a “LOL JK I was too scared” email a month later.

If you, too, are externally motivated, sharing your goals can be a great way to hold yourself accountable. If you’re really serious, say something like “I’m starting to apply to grad schools. Next time you see me, ask me about it!”

Related: this is why I keep a list of the New Things I’m trying each year in my sidebar – because it holds me accountable!

4. Studies show that conversations with + requests to acquaintances are more productive than ones with close friends

Counter-intuitive as it sounds, studies have shown that ‘weak ties’ (people we don’t know super well or see very often) are more likely to connect us with new opportunities than our close friends.

So, while it’s great to tell your BFF you want a new job, it’s actually more important to tell your cousin, your sister’s boyfriend, and that college buddy you see twice a year.

Why? Well, your BFF probably knows all the same people you do. But each of your ‘weak ties’ has a completely different network. With each conversation, you exponentially increase the likelihood of getting what you want.

It can be this easy:

Hey, dude! I haven’t seen you in a while! What are you up to these days?

Oh, the usual. I’m actually thinking about leaving my job, so if you hear of any mid-level openings at a P.R. or advertising agency, send ’em my way!

I’m good! I’m sort of getting serious about this whole “meet somebody” thing. If you know anybody you think would be a good fit for me, I’d love to meet them.

I’m super pumped to be planning a big trip this summer. I’m road tripping down the east coast and hiking part of the Appalachian trail. I’m researching the sweet bejesus out of it, but if you have any advice or know anybody who does, I’d love to hear it!

We’re starting to look at buying a house – so exciting but so overwhelming! We’d really like to be in South Minneapolis but the houses sell so fast. If you hear of anybody in those neighborhoods who’s putting their house on the market, let us know!

Doesn’t that sound ridiculously easy? Just mentioning, in passing, what you want and what you’re working towards?

Let’s try it. Here. As you can see in my pre-P.S., I’d love to do more podcasts and Youtube interviews. What do you want? Tell us in the comment below! You never know who’s reading and what insights or connections they might have!

photo by fletcher clay // cc

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    • Sarah Von Bargen

      You can doooo it! <3 <3

  1. Nikki

    I don’t know what I want. I feel so fortunate to have so much, but I’ll be saving this post for when I need some direction and inspiration and for reminding me how to be a supportive friend.

    Also, I really want you to do more podcasts and You Tube shows! I still remember your episode with Elise Blaha Cripe and it was so good! I’m rooting for you.

    • Sarah Von Bargen

      This post might help you, Nikki. And thanks so much for the kind words!

  2. Tara

    Thank you for the encouragement. I love how concrete and practical your suggestions are.

    I want to be a published writer. I don’t necessarily want or need to make a living as a writer, but I want for something I’ve written to be published at some point during my life.

  3. Stacey

    I’m a wedding DJ and I want to perform at destination weddings! I want to travel and play music… i.e do my two favourite things… together.

  4. J.H. Moncrieff

    I want to be a full-time novelist. It’s all I’ve ever wanted, and I’m going “all in” to make it happen in the next three years.

    And you’re right–when you tell people what you want, they become part of a team invested in seeing you succeed. Every single book I’ve published came about because a connected friend sent me a head’s up about what a publisher was looking for.

    If I come across some great podcasts about the topics you’re interested in, I’ll flag them for you.

    • Sarah Von Bargen

      Yes! Love it!

  5. Meaghan Gulledge

    I want to start a nonprofit reading initiative to get curated libraries into teachers’ classrooms. I have had amazing success in my third grade classroom this year increasing motivation for independent reading- all because I simply organized my library and started recommending books to students. I’m so excited to see how they now view themselves as readers, and I want to spread this joy!

  6. Edmonton DJ

    I’m a wedding DJ and I want to perform at destination weddings! I want to travel and play music… i.e do my two favourite things… together.

  7. coffee beans

    I want to perform at destination weddings!

  8. drug

    I want to travel and play music… i.e do my two favourite things… together.

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