Ask For What You Want
Start by Saying Yes to Yourself More Often
I believe that people say “no” to themselves much more frequently than others say “no” to them. Think about it… how often do you tell yourself… “no, I can’t do ___” ... “No, if I ask my supervisor for a raise, he/she will think I am greedy/unreasonable/pushy.” “No, if I ask to upgrade my hotel room, they will think I am difficult/a diva/not a nice person.” “No, I can’t ask for the discount rate because others may think that I am cheap/unreasonable/difficult/ridiculous.” “No, I can’t ask for that promotion, the boss will never give it to me.” I have observed that people who consistently, boldly, and confidently ask for what they want,often get it.
Too often, we end up telling ourselves “no” before we even allow ourselves to consider asking for what we want. What is the worst thing that can happen? Someone besides ourselves tell us no? Then what? What does it matter what they may think about you? Often these other people (the hotel clerk, supervisor, store manager) are likely to not give you and your inquiry further thought. If they do, does it matter? Most people are occupied with thoughts about their own lives and have little interest in focusing on yours. And if they do, as Jack Canfield brilliantly quoted, “What others think about you is really none of your business.”
A good first step is to believe that you deserve what you are asking for, and ask as if you assume the answer will be yes. This doesn’t mean to be disrespectful or rude, or to disregard another’s boundaries. If you get a “no,” respect that boundary. But if there is space to explore the answer respectfully, it may be worth the time to see if the “no” can be turned into a “yes”. If there is, explore that route. If not, take the “no” and move onto the next opportunity for a “yes.”
I recently listened to and loved the Audible version of Matthew McConaughey’s book, Greenlights. There are many meaningful lessons throughout the book, but one thing that he has consistently done throughout his life is to ask for what he wanted with the expectation that he would get it. Even when he was told “there is no way,” he still asked, persisted, and worked toward his end goal. He often asked in unconventional ways in which he demonstrated why he should be given a “yes,” which he termed, “Greenlight.”
Here’s one example: very early in his acting career, he was offered and accepted a small role in The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation. But at the last moment, McConaughey decided he wanted the main role as the villain, Vilmer, and asked for an immediate audition for this role. The director told him that there wasn’t an actress available for a spontaneous audition to play the person being terrorized. McConaughey politely asked the receptionist if she would mind allowing him to scare the hell out of her, and she said “Sure.” McConaughey proceeded to get into character and SHOWED them why he should be cast as the villain and actually terrified the receptionist to the point of tears. What a great way of asking for what you want! Oh, and he got that role--and many others where he was given a preliminary no--and became an Academy Award-winning actor. I encourage you to ask for what you want more often; you may be surprised at how often you get a “yes.”
What about that “no” that doesn’t even involve asking someone else? Are there things you are interested in or curious about, but never do because it is out of your comfort zone? If so, you may be missing out! Shonda Rhimes, the creator, producer, and screen writer of mega-hits such as Grey’s Anatomy, Scandal, How to Get Away with Murder, For the People, and Bridgerton wrote a book a few years ago titled, Year of Yes. In this book, Rhimes shares her story of the year in which she decided to commit to stepping outside of her comfort zone and say “yes” to things she would typically say no to. This included Hollywood parties, speaking engagements, media events, and saying yes 100% of the time her children asked her to play with them. It did not matter that she was rushing out of the door, if her children asked her to play, she would stop and take 10 minutes to play with them. It was magical! The result: saying yes changed her life in a profound way.
I give you the challenge of saying “yes” to yourself more often. Start small: go to the new coffee house you’ve been wanting to try, but we are hesitant to go alone; attend the party you were invited to but where you won’t know anyone; take that art class you’ve been thinking about; go to the exercise class that sparked your interest; etc. Then move to the bigger things… take that trip you’ve always wanted to, start the YouTube channel you’ve thought about, apply for that job you’ve wanted, get that certification you’ve dreamed about, etc. What are some things you have said “no” to that you are ready to change to “YES”?!