Practical Advice for Getting What You Want

[ This IS ALL WE Need : And SOME Love AND Passion ] Temple Bar, Dublin, Republic of Ireland

“Argue for your limitations, and sure enough they’re yours,” I said rather pompously to a friend the other day. I was quoting Richard Bach, a hippy writer whose books I read as a kid.

“Argue against them, and they know you’re bullshitting,” my friend retorted. I thought that was worth considering.

Or as Barbara Sher wisely says, “Don’t stand in the middle of a superhighway and create your own reality.”

It is essential, as a sane, functional human being, to be in touch with reality. We don’t argue against gravity, we don’t stand in the middle of a busy street, and we generally avoid rage quitting our jobs without any plans for the future. This is called being a responsible adult. But reality being what it is doesn’t mean you have to just sit there and take it.

  • A black person will never be president of the USA because our history is too fraught with racial problems.
  • A woman can’t be an astronaut because she wouldn’t be able to meet the physical training standards.
  • Humans will never fly because if God wanted us to fly we’d have wings.
  • The internet won’t catch on because only geeks understand it.
  • I’ll never be able to do what I love because I won’t make any money.

All of these statements are bullshit. If we believe them, they become self-fulfilling prophecies. If we reject them outright, maybe people think we’re wearing rose-colored glasses at first. But we can let go of the assumptions.

Instead of predicting what will or won’t happen in the future, pick a goal and work on it. Instead of telling yourself that your dreams are impossible, ask yourself, “What if there were a way?” What would that look like? How would it feel?

When you’re ready to start making things happen, talk about it. Tweet about it. Post it on Facebook. Make a Pinterest board for it. Let your wishes be known. This isn’t some magical visualization technique I’m giving you, it’s practical advice. If you start talking about big ideas, soon people will know you as “That chick with all the big ideas,” and when the right people hear about it, they will want to be part of what you’re up to.

And finally, don’t beat yourself up if things don’t go your way immediately. I must have tried hundreds of hair-brained schemes before I figured out how to do what I love in a sustainable way. We are in a constant process of evolution, and it takes practice and patience to move in the direction you want. We may never really “get there,” but we have the option to enjoy the journey.

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Don’t Take Advice

When I was a kid, I loved to read Dear Abby in the newspaper. I loved it so much that I wanted to write a letter to Abby. There wasn’t much I needed advice on. I just wanted to write to her and have my letter printed in the paper with a cleverly assigned nickname. Whenever I had a problem, I would begin mentally composing a letter to Abby, or even go so far as to sit down and write the letter.

Dear Abby,
I am eleven years old, and I have two best friends. The trouble is that my friends don’t like each other. Whenever I hang out with one of them, the other always gets jealous. They won’t agree to spend time together …

At this point, I realized my own answer: Your friends are being selfish. Ask them to get along or at least stop talking badly about each other while you’re around. If they can’t do that, you need new friends. Well, they couldn’t do that, and I needed new friends. What happened after that was a whole different story.


Dear Abby,
I’m 13 years old, and I really like this guy who is 15. He’s very cute, and he is nice to me, but he has a bad reputation. All the girls at my school and church say he is bad, but I really like him. I think he’s a nice guy who is just misunderstood. The other day, he asked me to be his girlfriend, and I said I wanted to think about it. He told me I shouldn’t ask for my friends’ opinions, but I did anyway. My best friend said I shouldn’t date him because I would get in trouble, but I was going to say yes anyway. By the time I called him back, he said he didn’t want to date me anymore if I wouldn’t do it without asking my friends first. I’m disappointed because I still really like him, but …

By this point in the letter I have reached my own realization: This guy was an asshole. Fuck him if he couldn’t handle me talking to my girlfriends about him. Sure, I was disappointed because he was cute and I wanted a boyfriend, but it would have to be someone else.

Or finally,

Dear Abby,
I’m 15 years old, and I’m on one of my high school’s dance teams as well as in the choir. I really like dance and most of the girls on the team, but sometimes there are conflicts between the dance competitions and choir performances. My choir director doesn’t mind if I have to choose one or the other sometimes, but my dance coach says I can’t do both …

And as I wrote that last sentence, it was clear that dance team had to go. I knew through and through that I loved the choir whereas dance was kindof a pain. I didn’t even enjoy the competitions that much, the coach was kindof a jerk, and the other dancers were cliquish. I fit in much better with the choir, so that’s where I went.

As I got older, I wrote many more letters to other advice columnists. Only twice did I actually send them. Of those two, only once did I actually read the columnist’s response. Maybe one day I’ll tell you about that.

Over time, I’ve learned that asking for advice is almost never necessary. Listening to your gut is.

At 11, it didn’t take a soothsayer to point out that my friends didn’t have my best interests at heart.

At 13, my instincts protected me by pushing that douchebag away, even for a moment. Even though I consciously wanted to date him, I knew deep down that it would be a mistake.

At 15, I didn’t need some advice columnist with a fake name to tell me my dance coach was being unfair.

You can get all the advice in the world. You can seek the opinions of experts. You can mimic the style of the masters. Ultimately, nothing can trump your own innate wisdom.

More often than not, asking for advice is just stalling when you already know what you should do, and seeking approval from others is just another way of giving up control over our own lives — creatively, spiritually, intellectually.

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Actual Marriage Advice from an Actual Married Lady

As a happily married lady with a slightly less than typical approach to relationships, I’ve decided that the world needs my relationship advice. Women my age grew up with the idea that we can support ourselves and we don’t need a man to take care of us, and yet weddings are more commercialized and hyped up than ever thanks to reality TV and good old fashioned marketing.

So, for anyone looking for confirmation that they’re with the right person or who feels lost in the relationship ocean, here are my 7 Signs You’re With the Right Person.

  1. He gets your brand of crazy. Everyone is a little bit nuts, even you. Don’t fool yourself. The more you resist this truth, the more delusional you inevitably are. A good partner understands and accepts this about you but is also willing to call you on your bullshit when you’re being crazy.
  2. You don’t have everything in common. Having things in common is easy and comfortable, but it’s more fun when you have some significant differences. My husband and I have very different taste in books, movies and music, and our areas of expertise are practically opposites. We constantly introduce each other to new things, and it makes our life together more fun.
  3. You have the important stuff in common. You agree on whether or not your theoretical children should be baptized and how to deal with two families for the holidays. You probably agree on evolution and global warming. Trust me: if you and your partner disagree on whether evolution is a legitimate thing, you’re going to have some really mind-numbing arguments in your future.
  4. You really want him/her to be happy and vice versa. You find yourself sincerely concerned for your partner’s wellbeing. You may not be into the 50s housewife thing (I’m not!) but something about seeing this person happy just makes the world feel right to you. AND you get the same in return. A life partner who loves to see you smile is sure to bring out the best in you.
  5. You fight well. All couples fight, even happy ones, and if you think your relationship is an exception, take a good hard look at what feelings you’re stuffing. A sign of a healthy relationship is that you can disagree, and yes, you can even get royally pissed at each other. This is OK because you are both (a) human beings with emotions and (b) adults who are capable of both controlling themselves in moments of anger and apologizing when needed. And I mean sincerely apologizing. I’m not talking about doing something mean, buying chocolates, then doing it again. That’s different, and it’s called abuse. But fighting occasionally is a part of life, and if you handle it lovingly, you can actually learn from it.
  6. You inspire each other. Maybe some people just want a partner who will maintain the status quo with them, but I find the status quo absolutely depressing. One of the greatest assets in my marriage is the epic sense of possibility I have when I’m with my husband, both in terms of what we can do together and the ways we can sport each other to be our best.
  7. You giggle together. Maybe you lay in bed making fart jokes together or gossiping or just being absurd. It doesn’t matter what you laugh about as long as you bring each other joy.

When I got engaged, I had an absolute meltdown over the fear that by getting married, I might be giving up some essential part of myself, and the only way to regain my grip on sanity was to remember that my then fiance was the same person I’d always loved and that the only thing that was changing between us was a piece of paper. Ok, and some familial expectations, but we can talk later about how I feel about other people’s expectations.

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This Just In

Getting married doesn’t make you some kind of superstar. You’re not the prettiest girl in the world. No one is.

Your wedding is not going to be the greatest day of your life. If this is the day you’ve been looking forward to since childhood and you truly feel it’s all going to be “happily ever after” from here on out, I don’t wanna rain on your parade, but I think you need a reality check before you take one step further.

Your prince charming is going to piss you off. You’re going to have to clean up leaky pipes in the basement together. You will fight about money. You will wonder if he understands you. You will both gain weight. You will sometimes not feel like having sex. You will fantasize about other people. You will wish you hadn’t spent so much on that dress.

I’m saying this as a happily married woman who had a pretty rad wedding, but I just feel the need to get this all out there.

No one will remember your wedding but you and your very close loved ones. No one cares what the cake looks like. No one cares what invitations you choose. And if you plan an elaborate choreographed routine that your whole wedding party has to memorize and perform for your guests, it might make you internet famous for a minute, but it doesn’t mean you’re going to be happy for the rest of your life.

On the other hand, if you pitch fits and scream at people, everyone will remember, and not in a kind way. I don’t care how cute or famous or hormonal you may be. If the words “you’re ruining everything” come out of your mouth, you should be smacked because whoever you’re yelling at and whatever they may be doing, they are not in fact ruining everything. They are perhaps irritating you and probably forcing you to acknowledge the fact that you are not a princess and your life is not a Disney movie. Good for them.

Anyway, I’m not trying to crush your dreams of having a fairytale wedding, except I totally am. Your wedding is not the best day of your life, ok? I mean, if you do it right, it can be really fun and amazing, but first you should let go of all the ridiculous expectations and quit acting like you’re some kind of reality TV star. No one likes those people.

And as for making the marriage last? I don’t know for sure, but I bet it has something to do with thinking more about the person you’re about to marry than the dress you’ll wear.

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Do not ask the internet for every decision you have to make. The masses do not always know best.

If the worst thing you can think of about a particular situation is that you might be forced to interact with new people, that’s not a very bad thing at all.

If you can’t think of something interesting to say, try listening.

Quit cheating yourself of good experiences.

Drink water.

Do not wait for a sign.

Do not wait for perfection.

Pass “Go” all you like.

Say “Thank you” as often as possible.

Open your heart.

When you are ready for a change, say so.

If you are unsure of yourself, that’s OK.

Focus on a large goal, then proceed to take small steps.

Be polite. It makes just about every situation easier.

Sometimes being polite doesn’t work. Then, you should gather your strength, gird your loins and speak your mind.

Sometimes you will have to walk away. You’ll know when it’s time, and it will be the right thing.

When something unexpected catches your attention and gets your heart racing, follow it.

Know who your team is.

Trust your team, love your team, and support your team.

Allow your team to grow — you  never know what a new person may have to offer.

Ask questions.

Keep asking questions until someone makes you stop.

Then, ask more questions.

Be brave.


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