Ask for what you want in life…and you just might get it 🪄
Don’t be afraid to ask for what you want. It could change your life! A lesson I’m grateful to have learned at a young age.
When I was a teenager I had big dreams of going to college. With three older siblings I knew it would be a struggle for my family, but my parents always reassured me that they'd “find a way.”
I was only 13 when my family was devastated by the sudden passing of my father. And with my mom now the sole provider we did our best to get by financially.
Eventually, the years passed, and going to college was no longer just a dream. I began applying to universities and got accepted to one of my favorites. I was elated! The university even gave me financial aid. And my mother — the wonder woman she is — was somehow able to scrape together the rest of the funds to cover the balance of my tuition.
I loved my freshman year and was excited for year 2. But the second financial aid letter was much different. I was informed that I would be receiving much less money than the previous year.
I’ll never forget the pain in my mother’s eyes as she looked at me across the kitchen table and said “Honey, I can't send you back. I can’t swing it this time.”
But I wasn’t ready to give up. At that moment, I felt the importance of going after what I wanted *myself*.
So I typed a heartfelt letter asking the university to appeal the financial aid package. I even asked to be of service to the university as a student worker, a tour guide…ANYTHING!
I ASKED them to keep me there.
To my surprise, they replied letting me know they had increased my financial aid package, not only for year 2, but for years 3 and 4 as well. They also gave me a job (or two!) on campus. I was absolutely thrilled.
That’s when I understood that asking for what you need can alter the course of your life. And that we should never just walk away at the first sign of adversity. So for everyone out there who has wanted to ask but was too afraid to, here are three tips for being your own fierce self-advocate.
By the way, one of my favorite resources on the planet for getting braver is Jason Feifer's awesome newsletter One Thing Better, where each week the editor in chief of Entrepreneur magazine gives you one way to improve your work and build a career you love. From asking even if you're afraid, asking for favors, to better ways to ask, Jason and his newsletter rock!
Quick Confidence Tips for Asking for What You Want:
Mindset: Don't assume you’ve lost before you’ve even tried. Sometimes our negative predictions stop us from asking for what we need. We assume we’ve failed before we even try. This might feel like you’re playing it safe, but what you’re actually doing is cutting yourself off from all the possibilities. Instead, bring a solid case for what you want or need to the table. It doesn’t have to be perfect. Then give yourself praise for your efforts regardless of the outcome. If asking for things is hard for you, giving yourself a small reward or incentive every time you challenge the status quo could really help.
Interpersonal: Be clear on your position. Use decisive wording like, “I disagree with X direction” or "I propose this idea as an alternative." In the affirmative you can say: “I’ll vouch for Y,” “I recommend we go with Option A,” or “I’m ready to commit to X.” Making your stance clear in this way increases your authority as someone who’s not afraid to go for what they want or what they believe in. It’s hard to take someone who is indecisive seriously. So next time you want something, ask clearly and decisively.
Embodied: Speak with your body. When we're making an appeal to others, it actually helps to use our bodies to reinforce our message. Did you know that those who gesture more often while speaking are seen as not only more engaging but more credible and persuasive? So the next time you state your case to someone try using gestures to support your words. For example, open your arms wide if you're advocating to expand your customer base. If you're counting out a list of issues, you can use your fingers to count out the items. If you're talking about a spike in sales, gesture your thumb upward.
I know that advocating for ourselves by asking for what we need or want can feel scary and intimidating. But it’s exactly *by* asking that we build our confidence, making it easier to ask for things in the future.
Remember: It’s great to have people around who support you, but no one can ask on your behalf the way that YOU can!
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