cropped version of original photo by Otama (https://www.flickr.com/photos/otama/402299217/)
I’m currently in the final stretches of a fundraising campaign that will enable me to go to a fabulous conference next month. And no, I’m not asking you for money. I’m sharing because this experience has been a great reminder of what can happen when we ask for what we want. Something that looked impossible a few weeks ago is now happening—all because I had the courage to share my story and ask “Can you help me?”
I’ve been amazed and humbled and inspired by people’s generosity. I’m overwhelmed with gratitude. And I want you to know that your version of this can happen, too.
It can be hard for us to ask for what we want. Our society prides itself on go-it-alone-ness. Often, we think we don’t deserve what we’re asking for. Or we can get caught up in the negatives that could happen when we ask: people will say no or think we’re too forward or a million other possibilities that don’t sound so fun.
Ask anyway. Otherwise you risk missing out.
Get clear on what you want and why you want it before you ask.
The clearer you are on the what and the why, the easier the ask is and the more likely you’ll get the answer you want. Think about it—if someone asked you for something but was all wishy-washy and apologetic about it, would you feel compelled to help?
I find the best way for me to gain clarity is by writing. Sometimes I write out my what and why, sometimes I write down the way I want the conversation to go, sometimes I just make a list of bullet points. Whatever it is, it all helps me come from an authentic place and be ready for any questions that might come along the way.
Know you deserve what you’re asking for.
This doesn’t mean getting all cocky and entitled; it actually comes from a place of love and compassion: trusting you deserve whatever good comes your way just because you’re you and you’re awesome.
For many people, this is a hard concept to grasp. If it is, please join me on this little adventure:
Picture yourself as a little kid. Now, does that child deserve to have his or her needs met? 100% yes.
Next, does that child deserve to have whatever will help him or her grow and live a joyful, fulfilling, love-filled life?
You are STILL that child. Sure, maybe you’ve made some mistakes along the way. Maybe you’ve internalized messages from others saying you’re not worthy. Maybe you’ve even got a long list of why you shouldn’t or won’t get what you want.
NONE OF THAT negates the fact that you deserve whatever your soul longs for.
So talk to yourself like you’d want someone to talk to you as a child—fill your heart with compassion, understanding, generosity and love. However long it takes, however many ways you need to say it, keep telling yourself you deserve it all until you fully believe it’s true.
Don’t get all graspy.
Come to the ask from a pure place. “I need this NOW!” is the energy equivalent of a temper tantrum. It isn’t gonna get you anywhere, and it’ll likely send whomever you’re addressing running away as fast as their legs can carry them.
Instead, ask once you’ve reached a place of calm confidence. Be genuine. Ask from your heart, not your head. Go into the ask considering the act of asking as a win, regardless of the result.
Let go of the result.
I have to admit—this is the hardest part for me. Here’s how I tend to approach it:
Who to ask and how:
So who should you ask? Everyone. There have been many instances where I’ve gotten help from people I’d never have expected it from. There have also been numerous times I’ve gotten help from people I didn’t even know.
I’m a big fan of asking the Universe, too. I write it down in my journal, make requests during meditation, and silently ask when the idea pops up in my thoughts. I’m not big on formal prayer, but if you are, obviously that’s a great time to ask, too.
How should you ask? Clearly, politely, and from a place of integrity. Stand in your truth and show your passion for what you’re asking for. You’ve already done the work in getting clear on your what and your why, so let that shine through.
For the record, I always ask that way, regardless of whether I’m posting a fundraising campaign or silently thinking my request while I walk my dog. I’ve seen for myself that the clearer, more respectful, and more genuine my request, the more likely I am to get what I’m asking for.
What to do when you get a no:
First and foremost, remain calm and gracious, thank the person anyway, and move on.
Then remember that a no is NOT the end of the world. It’s just the end of that particular little journey. There are still a million ways your journey could go. To that end, there are a couple options for next steps:
What to do when you get a yes:
Be grateful every time, no matter how small the yes. Consider celebrating with a happy dance, a high five, or cartwheels.
But don’t let it stop there. Find a way to give back to those who gave to you. Depending on the person and how they’ve helped, you can repay them with a genuine thank you, a great review, a service, or a gift.
It’s also important to pay it forward. Just as others have been kind and generous to you, be kind and generous to others whenever you get the chance. It’s the best and most fun way I know to have a positive impact on the world.
Over the years, I’ve become a big believer in “just ask.”
I’m always passionate about whatever it is I’m raising funds for. I share my story, always make sure they know exactly where their money’s going, and thank them in the moment and with a follow-up once the fundraiser’s over. In my current fundraiser, I’m offering various coaching sessions as thank you gifts, which enables me to help those who’ve donated achieve their goals, too.
To be honest, I still often get nervous when I ask for what I want. But I've found the regrets come when I don't ask, never when I do, even when the answer has been no. That's why, despite the nerves, I remain fiercely loyal to the mantra that's bettered my life over and over again: just ask.
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If you’re someone who has a hard time asking for things, I encourage you to go through these steps. I’m willing to bet your life will change in many wonderful ways!
I'd love to hear how it goes, so please share your stories in the comments or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. (Yes, that's me asking!)
If you get stuck along the way, you can always schedule a coaching session with me. And all potential new clients get a free, no obligation consultation session. It’s a great way to find out what coaching with me is like, get some help in the process, and practice asking for what you want—wins all around!
If you’re human, you’re gonna go through some difficult stuff in life. It’s just part of the deal.
When you do, chances are you’ll feel a lot of strong (and possibly overwhelming) emotions including but not limited
If you’re human, you’re gonna go through some difficult stuff in life. It’s just part of the deal.
When you do, chances are you’ll feel a lot of strong (and possibly overwhelming) emotions including but not limited to anger, stress, frustration, or sadness. Hell, maybe you end up dealing with it for so long, you reach the point of apathy.
There are so many ways to successfully navigate these hard times, and everyone’s path is different. But there’s an overarching tool that I find helps in pretty much every situation: follow your curiosity.
It doesn’t have to be some grand gesture, like you’re curious about elephants so you sell all your worldly possessions and move to another continent attempt to become part of a herd. (Although if that feels right to you, then who am I to stop you?)
I’m just talking about noticing what sparks an interest. Does something come across your path that makes you feel even just the teensiest bit of excitement? Does someone say something and you suddenly find yourself wanting to know more?
THAT’S CURIOSITY. FOLLOW IT.
Follow it even if it’s something you already know a lot about. Follow it if it’s something totally new to you. Follow it even if it seems stupid or like a complete waste of time. (Chances are that if you’re curious about it, there’s a reason.)
Maybe the thing you’re curious about is just a much-needed distraction to help make things a little easier. Maybe it’s a stepping stone. Or maybe it’s the key to getting yourself out of the hard times and into something way more fun. And you know what? There’s only one way to find out!
A PERSONAL EXAMPLE
Looking back, I can see that following my curiosity has helped me get through every hard time in my life. Most recently, it’s been my approach to getting myself healthy again.
When I’ve felt that spark of curiosity about a book someone recommends, I’ve immediately found and read the book. When it was clear my doctor wasn’t the right fit, I found myself curious about naturopaths and ended up working with a great one. When I suddenly became fascinated by mind-body medicine and alternative healing modalities, I turned to my village of life coaches for suggestions, and their responses were both helpful and fascinating.
It’s been a combination of things that finally got me moving on this road to healing, and every single piece of the puzzle started with something that made me feel curious.
COACHING TOOL: FOLLOW YOUR CURIOSITY
Your assignment, should you chose to accept it, is to follow something that’s recently piqued your curiosity.
If you can’t think of anything, there are a couple of options: you can either think about something you were curious about as a child or just keep your eyes and ears open and trust that the spark will come.
Following your curiosity can include but is not limited to:
I’d love to hear how this works for you. What are you curious about? How did you follow your curiosity? Feel free to comment here or shoot me an email at email@example.com and let me know!
McKenzie Bourg went from being a multi-sport all-star to almost dying of heart failure to being in the top 5 on “American Idol.”
He says: “Being so close to dying was the best thing that could’ve happened to me. I take every day for what it is, and I don’t think I would be here on that Idol stage had that not happened to me.”
When we’re in a bad place, it’s so hard to see that something good can come out of it. But I’ve seen exactly that happen for so many other people. I’ve experienced it for myself, too.
So if you’re struggling right now, please be kind to yourself. Keep your eyes open for anything that stirs your soul. And trust that amazing, unexpected things really can (and will!) come from whatever it is you’re going through.
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With the exception of Netflix binge-watching, I’ve been all about baby steps these days. But I’ve realized that there’s so much more to them than just the act of inching forward—there’s a whole process that lies within.
Below is an example of how I’ve applied that process to something I’m currently going through. As you read my story, I hope you’ll see ways you can harness these ideas to improve a current struggle in your own life.
When babies are learning to walk, they don’t resist it; they just know this is the next step (pun intended) they need to take.
I’ve been dealing with some pretty serious, long-lasting fatigue. While it’s finally getting better, it’s majorly affected all aspects of my life.
The first step to healing came when I finally stopped fighting the exhaustion and accepted it instead. Once I did, my “why” changed. It used to be “Why the HELL am I STILL exhausted??” I was resisting what was happening, and all that did was make me more frustrated.
Now my “why” comes from a place of calm curiosity; it’s a chance to check in with myself and figure out what I need. Like a baby looks around for something to pull up on, I look around for what will best help me get to where I want to be.
Throughout the process, babies get help and support from wherever they can—from their grownups to furniture to toys.
A big part of my process has been reaching out to others for help. Of course, I’ve worked with various medical professionals, from my general practitioner to a functional medicine doctor to my current naturopath, who’s finally got me on the right track. Occasional sessions with my holistic healthcare practitioner are also an integral part of my healing.
On a personal level, I’ve got a great support system including my parents and other relatives, friends, and my tribe of fellow life coaches, who’ve generously shared their stories, resources, and help.
Whenever my brain’s up for taking in new info, I read books and do online research. I’ve learned about mind-body healing and other alternative techniques, which I’ve found completely fascinating.
Lastly I have my wise inner self, which serves as an internal GPS, guiding me throughout this whole process.
When babies inevitably fall, they don’t think “I suck at this! I should just give up.” They just keep trying, taking breaks to play and rest. They trust their intuition. They listen to their bodies.
Not once have I thought I’d be tired forever. Along the way, there have been setbacks, but I can’t shake the feeling that it’s all going to be okay.
Every time I start anything new, I’m unabashedly optimistic that it’ll help. Sometimes I have an internal temper tantrum if it doesn’t, but that’s short-lived. I always return to my process: checking in with myself (and my support system as needed), figuring out my next move, and then, of course, taking baby steps.
This experience has been a great opportunity to tune into my intuition and my body on a much deeper level. Because of the freedom that comes with being self-employed, I’m able to do what I need when I need it.
I have general plans for my days, but I stay flexible and let my intuition lead the way. I meditate, journal, read, or work as it feels right to me. I exercise when I can. I limit my time outside the house because that exhausts me more than anything.
Most importantly, I rest whenever I need to. I quickly learned that if I try to push through the tiredness, my recoup time becomes days rather than hours. Pacing myself and resting enable me to take more baby steps in the long run.
There’s no compare and despair with babies. It never occurs to them that maybe they’re taking longer than others to acquire this new skill. They just trust that, eventually, they’ll get it.
To be fair, children this young aren’t capable of comparing themselves to others. But there’s still something freeing in realizing everyone’s path is unique to them, and labeling your own as wrong or too slow really makes no sense—everyone’s path is exactly as long it needs to be.
While I’ve definitely made progress, I do still get frustrated that I’m not completely better yet and that I still haven’t achieved my goals. It kicks in strongest when I see others accomplishing similar ones; I’m only human, after all.
But I can let go of those feelings pretty easily because I trust that this is where I need to be at the moment. I can already see all the positive things that have come from this experience—connecting more deeply with myself and my intuition, getting to know new people, and learning about things that I wouldn’t have had the time for if I were busy and thriving.
My baby steps are getting stronger and steadier, bringing me closer and closer to my goals. I know without a doubt that one day soon I’ll be up and running around, getting into all kinds of fun trouble, and using everything I’ve learned to help myself and others all along the way.
Helping Yourself Through Baby Steps
1. Think about a problem you’re struggling with. Without trying to change anything, notice how you feel about the situation. Are you frustrated? Do you just want to give up? However you feel, it’s totally okay.
2. Now keep that situation in mind as you imagine a baby trying and failing to walk. Picture the whole scene—what the room looks like, what it smells like, what sounds you hear, who else is there.
3. As you see the baby trying and failing, you feel compassion, love, and instinctively want to help. Let your imagination guide you on how to help. If you get stuck, here are some things to consider:
4. Once you feel you’ve been through the whole scenario, come back to the present. Write down how the ways you helped the baby relate to how you can help yourself in your current situation. Keep in mind that some of these may be direct correlations (e.g., online research) and some may be more metaphorical.
5. Determine which approach makes you feel most free, then go for it! Keep in mind the lessons from the blog post above as you take your baby steps. Along the way, give yourself the same compassion you gave the baby in your imagined scenario. And remember to be patient and trust—there will come a time when everything finally clicks.
I wholeheartedly believe that help and support are a key part of fully moving forward. That’s why I’m now offering a new coaching option: 30-minute mini-sessions.
Just because they’re mini doesn’t mean you won’t get big results. I’ve personally been coached in shorter sessions and still had them be major game-changers!
Through March, mini-sessions are just $45. (As always, your first 30-minute session is free.) So if you’re ready to start making positive changes in your life, schedule an appointment now!
Katie Baron: life coach, freelance writer, animal and nature lover, musician, relentless optimist