A Dose of Magic to Help You Get What You Want
Thick grey clouds blanketed the sky, crunchy gold leaves littered the ground, and feelings of both excitement and uncertainty hung heavy in cool October air.
The scene was our fall staff retreat in 2016, just 2 months after I’d taken a new job with a new company. Our staff of 40ish fundraisers were holed up in the woods for two days enjoying bonfires, s'mores, and late night rounds of flip cup in between day-long sessions led by our retreat facilitator and our CEO.
In so many ways, this company – and this new job – were exactly where I wanted to be. I’d left an organization I loved after 6 years because I was ready for a change, and to feel challenged in new ways. So I took a new job as a grant writer, an opportunity that offered me that sense of a fresh start, and the chance to learn and grow within a company that does meaningful work. Already I was making new friends, and settling into the role.
All good things.
But even after just two short months, I sat at that retreat with a deep sense of knowing that I couldn't ignore: this wasn’t quite what I wanted.
It wasn’t that I was miserable… that wasn’t it. I was doing work that mattered for a company I really liked, in a flexible environment and alongside amazing people!
But the exciting brand-newness had worn off, and the realness was setting in. Suddenly I could see much more clearly what this new day-to-day reality was going to look and feel like, with no end in sight – and looking down that road toward that future tied a knot in my stomach.
My day-to-day work and life felt disconnected from my true passions and natural talents. And that was draining. But also, seemingly unfixable.
We all know that feeling: you’ve been cruising along fine until suddenly, you realize you’ve fallen out of love with some part of your reality.
See if you can think of an example of a time you felt this way.
Have you had a job that was ‘fine’ or ‘good enough’ – until one day it wasn’t, and you suddenly started obsessively questioning whether it was time for a change?
Or maybe you’ve been in a relationship that was chugging along for a while – until suddenly you realized how far away you were from the way you wanted to feel in a partnership?
Maybe you’ve had a living situation that worked ok for a while – until you suddenly hit a breaking point, and felt desperate for something different?
Whatever it was, odds are it was great in the beginning. Or at the very least, the excitement of it was enough to get you all swept up for a while. And then slowly, as the newness wore off and reality set in, the gap between your hopes and your reality started to widen. And then widen some more.
If you’re like me, this is where my Fix It Mode kicks into overdrive. This is where you start looking for a solution – something to make the situation feel better. You consult Google, you brainstorm.
But that’s the thing: you can know something has to change for you to feel better, and still feel totally in the dark about what it is you want.
And that might be the most discouraging part of it all: realizing you have no idea how to get what you want, because of all the things you don’t know.
Not knowing whether you ‘made a mistake’ in choosing this thing in the first place, or if the doubt you're feeling is all just a normal part of settling in.
Not knowing whether to stick it out, to see if it gets better. (Even if you already sorta know it won’t.)
Not knowing whether you should adjust your expectations and make it work, or stay true to what you deeply want and imagine for yourself.
Not knowing what an alternative would even look like, let alone how to get there.
But the truth is, some part of you does know what you want. At least partially.
It’s probably getting buried under the long list of reasons why “that can’t happen” or “that’s not possible” or “that won’t work for me” … but that nugget of truth in there somewhere. And regardless of how much it scares you, it’s probably onto something – even if you don’t have all the details worked out.
And believe it or not, that one little nugget is all you need.
It’s not a perfect, clear, well-defined plan or solution… at least not yet. But it’s a hint. It’s a small, honest signal of what you want to change or improve or have more of.
The biggest thing I’ve learned about how to get what you want is that you have to start by focusing on that small, honest nugget. And then, you have to start saying it out loud.
When you can find a way to ignore all the reasons-why-not, and instead start saying what you want out loud more often and to more people, it starts to feel more and more real. It gets easier to imagine, in more and more vivid detail. And it gives you something to focus on.
I’ve learned and seen the power of this trick a few times over, and it’s a big one.
The first time I saw it in action was in therapy a few years ago. I’d gone in thinking I was there to focus on working through was one thing. But then, with professional guidance and the willingness to do some real digging, I started seeing other truths about what I really wanted and needed from a relationship. And the more I started saying them out loud, in the safety of that room, the harder it was to forget or un-hear them. And the more I started to move toward them.
Then, it happened again with my job, starting at the staff retreat I talked about earlier.
Even without realizing it, anytime I wound up talking about work with close friends around that time, I’d casually say something like, “I’m just hoping one day they decide they need someone to manage their website, and I can swoop in and take that job!” I was mostly kidding – but the truth was in there: I loved the company, but not the work. And I wanted to be working on websites again.
Saying it out loud felt good, and resonant. So I kept saying it: to my partner, my mom, my best friend... and to myself.
To make a long story short, I have that web-focused job now. And part of that was pure timing and good luck - but the other part was spotting an opportunity and jumping on it.
In my experience, there are no magic words that will flip some cosmic switch, or make the ‘perfect thing’ fall right into your lap. But there is real magic that happens when you start saying the thing you want out loud.
Just by putting the words out into the universe, you’ve made it real. That once-vague wish is now specific, vivid, and in-focus. You’re no longer trapped in that vague, unhappy fog – because the thing you want has started to take shape. You can recognize it, and describe it.
From there, it only gets easier to start noticing when you bump into things in your daily that fit that mold. Suddenly those things aren’t just ‘things’; they’re possible leads. They’re opportunities.
Whether you call it ‘magic’ or ‘woo woo’ or ‘manifesting’, there’s something powerful about putting up your own antenna for opportunity. It’s almost like you can’t help but attract more of what you want – partly because now you know what you’re looking for.
Once that antenna is up, you have the ability to start picking up signals. And truthfully, those signals didn’t just ‘magically’ appear out of nowhere – they were probably there all along, but before you didn’t have to tools or the clarity to recognize them for what they were.
But by saying the thing out loud – by putting it into words – you’ve put yourself in a position to receive those signals. To see and create opportunities – and then pursue the right ones.
My challenge to you this week is to acknowledge an area of your life where maybe you’ve been wanting to feel better in some way, but where you’re stuck, unsure, or even overwhelmed from trying to figure out what that solution looks like.
(If you don’t have one of those right now, great! No need to manufacture one just for the sake of it. But the next time to feel itchy or dissatisfied in some area of your life, you can always come back to this.)
From there, I’d encourage you to try these few simple steps to help you start answering the question of how to get what you want:
Start by asking questions. Look that dissatisfied or uncomfortable feeling in the face, and gently ask: what would make it better, or go away? Resist the urge to self edit with “but that’s not possible” or “but that won’t work” … for now, just focus on exploring possibilities. What would you want instead? What does that alternative reality look like? What are you missing, wanting more of?
Sit with those possibilities, and let them open your mind. Of the possible solutions you thought of, did any of them feel particularly resonant? At first glance, they might not seem likely or even feasible – you might be thinking of a job you want that doesn’t exist (yet) or a specific aspect of your relationship that isn’t likely to change overnight, if at all. Don’t write them off just yet. Just focus on what it is that sets off little bells of hope somewhere in you, and make space to hold onto those possibilities somewhere in your mind.
Stat speaking those best-case-scenarios out loud. The next time there’s an opportunity to casually drop that wish or desire into a conversation with a close friend or someone you trust, try it. See how it feels. And continue to hold a space for that dream in your mind, and let it start taking shape in spite of all the reasons why not.
Resist the urge to focus on the reasons why not. As Jay Pryor says, "what you focus on gets bigger." The more you focus on the obstacles in your way, that's all you're going to see. Instead, do your best to stay focused on possibility (even when you don't have all the answers or specifics figured out!) and stay open to opportunities that cross your path, and might help you move toward what you want.
The biggest thing to remember here is that you don’t have to get it exactly right. And you’re not committing to anything by saying it out loud.
But the more you can practice putting words to your desires and getting them out into the universe – even if it’s just out loud to yourself, to start – the more likely you are to notice when you’re face to face with an opportunity that could be just the thing you’re looking for.
Now, I want to hear from you!
What's one small, honest wish you can start saying out loud to attract more of what you want?
Let me know in the comments, if you're comfortable sharing.