A while back, I posted about my problems with Androgen Deficiency. This seldom-diagnosed problem affects a lot of middle-aged men, and can really make a mess of your life. It has been almost six month since that post, and a lot has happened. This seems like a good time for a follow-up report.
Shortly after my original post, I went to an endocrinologist here in Ecuador. He ordered a battery of tests that showed promising results. By changing my diet and the supplements I was taking, I had managed to get some of my hormone levels into the proper range. But my total testosterone level was still too high, while free testosterone was too low.
The endocrinologist prescribed a powerful anti-androgen to drive down my level of total testosterone. He also prescribed some things to mitigate potential side effects of the treatment.
So how did that work out?
Results of Anti-Androgen Treatment
The initial results of this treatment were very encouraging. I felt great. I had more energy and more focus. My sex drive came roaring back. My wife and I both loved the changes.
But then things started to go wrong.
My sex drive waned. So did my energy and focus. After about a month of treatments, I was back where I started from.
Things continued to get worse. I lost all desire for sex. All motivation to do anything. I spent more and more time staring off into space, accomplishing nothing.
A middle-aged man with hot flashes and chills? What the #$%&?
Then I started having chills and hot flashes. In the middle of the night I would wake up so cold that I needed to wrap myself in every blanket I could find. Then I would lie there shivering until I fell asleep again. A couple of hours later, I would wake up drenched in sweat.
Clearly, this was not working.
Trust But Verify
I thought about going back to the doctor to find out what the hell was going wrong. But first, we decided to do more in-depth research into the meds the endocrinologist had prescribed.
We found that the medications were good choices for reducing my testosterone level. But the dosage of the anti-androgen that the doctor prescribed was crazy.
One use of anti-androgens is to eliminate testosterone from the systems of guys with Stage 3 prostate cancer. Testosterone stimulates prostate growth. Eliminating it makes sense for guys who have bad prostate cancer. While this helps with the cancer, crushing a guy's Testosterone levels can have ugly side effects. These include: low or no sex drive, loss of energy, chills, and so on.
The endocrinologist had prescribed a dosage for me that would serve a guy suffering from heavy-duty prostate cancer. The symptoms I was experiencing were those you get when you have almost no testosterone in your system.
What Do You Do When the Treatment is Worse than the Problem?
At this point, I could have gone back to the endocrinologist to find out what the hell he was thinking when he gave me that prescription. But we had no faith in the guy after this. The plan was to get my testosterone levels into the normal range, not turn me into a whimpering mess.
We decided I would take things into my own hands again.
Time to take things into my own hands again.
Progress Against Androgen Deficiency Without the Doctor's "Help"
First, we cut the dosage of the anti-androgen by 75% to get it into a range that seemed more normal based on the information we could find online. And I kept on doing the dietary things that had put my other hormone levels into their proper ranges.
This helped a lot. I wasn't feeling or performing at 100%, but I wasn't a pathetic excuse for a man, either.
After about a month of that, we decided to eliminate the anti-androgen altogether. I was happier to be free of that stuff, but I did start backsliding a bit. Things were okay, but I wanted to feel strong and healthy again. To be productive and aggressive and fit again.
Getting Help From an Old Friend
I decided to try an experiment. For a while, I used an aromatase inhibitor to maintain my free testosterone levels. At the time, I thought my problem was low total testosterone. I didn't know that there is much more to androgen deficiency than your total "T" levels.
This product had worked for more than a year, but lost its punch over time. You should cycle potent substances like that. That is, you take it for a month, then take 2 to 4 weeks off, some system like that. If you don't, you can cause negative reactions in your body. Your body will also adapt to the treatment, requiring higher doses for the same effect.
I had overdone it with the aromatase inhibitor by the time it stopped working for me. But now it had been several months since I used the stuff and it only made sense to give it another go.
About a month ago, I started taking the lowest dose I could of my old aromatase inhibitor. The effect became obvious in days. I'm suddenly back to sharp and strong and fit and productive. My sex drive is good, and everything functions better than it has since I was in college (many, many moons ago).
While things are great right now, I realize this isn't a final solution for me. Based on past experience, I expect that this effect will start to weaken in a few more months. But we've bought some time. I can now find a new endocrinologist, or study the literature, and find a better solution.
So what have I learned from all this?
There are several morals to this story. Here they are, in no particular order:
If you are a middle-aged guy, feel like carp, and don't know why, get tested! Many doctors don't even want to give guys the most basic sex hormone test (it shows total testosterone). But even that test will only give you incomplete, possibly misleading results. Getting a complete set of sex hormone tests (total testosterone, free testosterone, estrogen/estradiol, SHBG) is the only way to knwo for sure what is going on.
Even if your doctor is a recognized expert in his or her field, do your own research to confirm what they are telling you. That includes double-checking the dosages that are prescribed. If I had done that, I could have avoided some really unpleasant side effects.
Androgen Deficiency is a real, yet not widely-recognized condition. And diagnosing it may take more than the standard tests most doctors recommend.
Self-medication carries risks, but it does give you a route forward if you can't find a doctor that can help you. There are alternative treatments out there for most situations.
Sometimes, the best thing you can do is buy yourself time. Going back to something that worked in the past, gives me the time and energy to look for a better solution.
In my last post, I said I would talk about a hormone problem I am having. Its name is, “Androgen Deficiency.” It affects many aging men, particularly those of us who grew up in the USA. It is seldom diagnosed. It makes your life suck. And there’s a good chance it will affect you too (if it isn’t already).
Something Was Not Right
I am 58 now. Several years ago, I realized that something was not right with my life. I was living the life I had worked for years to achieve. I had achieved all the personal goals I had set for myself years earlier.
I should have been on cloud nine. But everything was kind of gray and dreary. I had little drive or energy. Staying fit was becoming ever tougher. I was starting to look and feel old.
I thought maybe I was lost because I had achieved all my goals. To fix that, I went to Puerto Rico for three months to work for a startup. That helped a little, but not much.
I started doing some research and found that I was exhibiting all the symptoms of low testosterone. I asked my doctor if I could get tested for this, but he said no. He told me I was simply depressed and needed to get more exercise and sunshine. That helped a little, but I was still dragging.
As I read more, I learned that Testosterone levels are declining worldwide. The problem is particularly acute in the USA. Long-term studies conducted in the United States have shown that at any given age, each generation has a lower level of Testosterone than the previous one.
Given all of the above, the idea that I was suffering from low testosterone (androgen deficiency) sure seemed to fit the bill.
This Is Where You Come Into the Picture
If you are an aging male from the United States, there is a good chance that this story sounds familiar. If so, you should definitely talk to your doctor about getting your testosterone levels checked.
Low testosterone is an ever-more common problem, but it is seldom tested. There seems to be stigma against the entire concept of testosterone up there.
While my whole adventure with this has taken place here in Ecuador, I’ve read reports of guys in the USA needing to go to several doctors before finding one who would even agree to test their testosterone levels. Even here, my primary care guy said no.
So if you are seeing the kinds of symptoms I’ve described, you should definitely talk to your doctor. But before you do, keep reading. There’s another wrinkle to this story.
Self-Medicating: Finding Supplements That Helped
My research and my doctor’s refusal to test led me to try self medicating. (The fact that I was too apathetic to argue with the doctor is in itself a good sign that my testosterone levels were low!)
I started looking into ways to boost my testosterone levels. I found a lot of hype and bullshit, along with a few things that can have a small positive effect. Then I found a supplement that really seemed to do the trick. I started taking this stuff and within days I felt better, looked buffer, had more energy, everything. I figured I had found the answer.
Then the FDA forced the product off the market. Damn!
After a while, I found a new supplement. This had much the same benefits as the stuff I was using, but worked via a different mechanism. Life was great again.
For a while.
I got great results from the minimum daily dosage of the supplement. But as the months went by, I found I needed more and more to get the same results. After about two years I was taking the maximum recommended dose but it seemed to have little effect. I thought it was a problem with long-term use of this supplement. But it seems something else was at work.
Blood Tests with Very Weird Results
About this time, my brother had started seeing a new doctor for an unrelated issue. Amongst other good things, he prescribed more thorough blood tests for both my brother and me. He included testosterone levels and a bunch of other stuff I never heard of. It was expensive but very enlightening.
First I saw that the testosterone-boosting supplement I was taking was doing its job. My level of Total Testosterone was off the charts. As in higher than was normal for a guy in his 20’s.
The next thing I noticed was that two related results were also sky-high. Both my Estradiol and Sex Hormone Binding Globulin (SHBG) levels were way too high.
I started researching and quickly learned that Estradiol is a component of the primary female sex hormone Estrogen. Very roughly, in guys, Estradiol counteracts the action of Testosterone. So my high Estradiol levels were working to counteract my high levels of Total Testosterone.
And SHBG is a protein that tightly binds to sex hormones (both Testosterone and Estrogen/Estradiol). As a result, SHBG renders Testosterone and Estradiol unavailable for your body to use.
This is important because the level of Free Testosterone in your body is what matters. Free Testosterone is the fraction of your Total Testosterone that isn’t bound to substances like SHBG. That means it is available for your body to use.
Using some equations I found online, I calculated that my level of SHBG was sufficient to leave me with virtually no Free Testosterone despite my high levels of Total Testosterone.
Estradiol and SHBG levels both tend to climb quickly as men age. Now throw in the generally lower levels of testosterone production that guys from the United States suffer from. The result is a straight path to Androgen Deficiency in our 50’s and maybe even our 40’s.
More and more people are starting to recognize that low Testosterone levels can be a problem. But there is more to the story than simply driving your Testosterone levels to the moon. Too much Testosterone can cause problems in itself. There are healthy ranges for Testosterone, Estradiol, and SHBG that you want to hit. If all three are not in the right range, you end up with problems.
This is an important point for you to bear in mind before getting blood work done. Oftentimes, doctors will test only your Total Testosterone, and not Estradiol and SHBG.
Without all three results, you are left guessing. Is my Testosterone high enough? Is my Estradiol too high? How about my SHBG? Both of them? All three things screwed up? If you don’t have all the information, you can end up like me, manipulating the one variable you know about and hoping for the best.
Now What Do I Do?
Now that I have all the information, I know what I need to do. I need to somehow generate more Free Testosterone. My Total Testosterone is already sky-high, so trying to push it higher doesn’t seem like a good idea. That leaves me with trying to reduce Estradiol and SHBG.
There are lots of things you can do to try and lower these levels.
You can change your diet (broccoli helps reduce Estradiol and eating more carbs can lower your SHBG)
Exercise more (if you do the right kinds of exercises)
Use fewer plastic containers (which contain estrogen-like substances that can leech into your food or drinks)
I am only at the beginning of this process. But thanks to getting the comprehensive blood work, I at least know what I need to do. I’m already seeing results that show I am on the right track. Life gets better by the day.
A few days ago, I met with my endocrinologist. This was a follow-up meeting to review testing he ordered for me. The result of that meeting was that I am now taking something to reduce my level of Total Testosterone.
After making changes to my diet and supplements, I have gotten my Estradiol and SHBG into the normal ranges. But the Testosterone is still too high. Too much Testosterone is generally less of a problem than too little, but it makes sense to get everything into the normal ranges. We’ll know more in a month.
If you are a middle-aged male, particularly if you grew up in the United States, Androgen Deficiency is a real risk. If you are feeling run down, low energy, getting fat, and just don’t give a damn, you are probably already experiencing this wonderful syndrome.
Talk to your doctor. Get your testosterone levels tested. And make sure the doc ticks the boxes for Estradiol and SHBG too. What you learn could really change your life.
We’ve been talking about getting what you want in life. Sometimes it goes smoothly. Sometimes it goes more like this,”You ask nicely for it. No luck. You lean into it for a while. But it still looks like you aren’t going to get it.” What’s left? It is time to fight for what you want.
Fighting Ain’t What it Used to Be
Sometimes the more subtle ways to get what you want out of life fail and you may need to fight. But in today’s world, fighting for what you want isn’t so straightforward. You can’t simply whack Gronk over the head with a club and take his stuff. In this post we will talk about when and how to fight for what you want in the modern world.
Once upon a time, fighting for what you wanted entailed exactly that: whacking Gronk with your club or pummeling him into submission with your fists. But there are several problems with taking that approach in the modern world. For example…
Gronk might be an ex-Marine who will kick your butt despite your club…
Or Gronk might have a concealed-carry license and trump your club with a pistol.
If nothing else, the authorities seem to frown on the idea of whacking somebody with a club. Even an old-style fistfight is likely to get you into legal trouble in most Western countries.
So how should you fight for what you want in today’s world? The answer depends on the situation. But before you start fighting for something, you need to…
Figure Out How You Got Here
How did you get to the point where you are considering fighting for what you want? Knowing this will help you decide what to do next. Did you ask for what you wanted and get told, “No!” Have you been leaning into it but not making any progress? Did something totally unexpected happen?
Fighting always entails risks, even when it doesn’t involve physical danger. You may have to make sacrifices. You might fail to get what you want. Or you might lose completely. The stakes are high when fighting for something, so think before you act.
Make Some Lists
The idea of making lists before a fight may sound crazy. And if you need to act fast, it probably is. But you often have some time to consider your options before getting into a fight over something. Assuming you do have time, you can start by making two lists:
What Can I Win?
What Can I Lose?
What’s the point of these two lists?
Let’s start with the “What Can I Win?” list. Of course, the first thing on the list is whatever you are thinking of fighting for in the first place. But that probably isn’t the only thing you could win. What about some secondary benefits to doing this? Self-respect for fighting for what you want? The respect of others? Skills or experiences you could benefit from in the future? The more of these secondary benefits you can win, the more “appealing” a fight becomes.
How about the “What Can I Lose” list? Thinking about what you could lose might be harder. You could of course lose (or fail to gain) the thing you would be fighting for. What else? Self-respect? The respect of others? Other things that you could do with the time and energy you will spend fighting? Your job? Your family or friends? Your freedom? Your health?
Think hard about the secondary effects that could result from battling for what you want. You might win the thing you are after but tarnish your reputation or lose a good friend (see Pyrrhic Victory). You might lose the fight but still win big by developing new skills or contacts that will help you later.
Whether this exercise causes you to change your plans or not, you will be making a decision based on what you perceive to be in your best interests, rather than the passion of the moment.
List Strengths and Weaknesses
If you will be fighting against another person, persons, or an identifiable group, you should consider making a few more lists. These lists of strengths and weaknesses can help you decide on a strategy to use. They can also help you see whether or not you have a real chance of winning.
Create these four lists:
For each of these lists, try to include as many strengths and weaknesses as you can, even if it isn’t obvious that they apply to the coming fight. The more information you have here the better.
For example, your opponent might be higher in the corporate hierarchy than you (his strength), but most people in the company like you better (your strength). You might be horrible at confrontations and unable to stand up to the woman who keeps stealing your parking space (your weakness) but she might be violating company policy by parking there (her weakness). Anything you can think of here could help you make a decision, so write it all down.
Consider Your Morals and Values
Consider your morals and values too. You might have strengths that would allow you to win the coming fight, but that would go against your morals and values. You might be a trained assassin and able to eliminate the other guy competing with you for the promotion. But hopefully doing so would be against your morals and values!
Don’t lose sight of your morals and values.
Once you have made your lists, it’s decision time. You need to look at those lists and decide if this is really something worth fighting for, and if you have a realistic chance of winning that fight. Sometimes it is better to walk away than fight.
Time to Decide
Once you have made your lists, it’s decision time. You need to look at those lists and decide if this is really something worth fighting for. Are the things you could win worth the risk of what could happen if you lose?
If the answer is yes, you need to figure out if you have a realistic chance of winning the fight. The Strengths and Weaknesses lists could be very useful here. You may simply be overmatched in this case with no realistic chance of winning. Sometimes it is better to walk away than fight.
I Am Going to Fight! But How?
What if you decide that you are going to fight? How do you go about it?
This is a tough question, because the tactics depend totally on circumstances. But the lists you made can help you to formulate a plan of attack. Try to devise a plan that takes advantage off your strengths and exploits your opponents’ weaknesses. At the same time, try to minimize the risk of losing things that are important to you.
You will often have to trade off, losing some things to gain the things you want more. Don’t be surprised if your first few plans turn out to have some fatal flaw. You’ll probably go around several times before you find your best plan of attack.
At this point, it would be great to give you a pep talk about how you can’t lose, or feed you a bunch of examples of how this plays out in real life. But a pep talk would be irresponsible and I don’t have too many examples for you. Fortunately, I haven’t had to reach the “fight for what you want” stage too many times. Hopefully the following examples will help.
Ways to Fight For What You Want in Life
Here are a few examples of fighting for what you want from my own life. How you would go about it depends on your specific circumstances, as well as your own morals and values.
Persistence in the Face of Adversity
Sometimes, simply continuing to work toward your goal despite circumstances is fight enough. For example, I came from a family where everyone’s goal was to get a job in a big corporation and retire 45 years later with a gold watch and a fat pension. I hated that idea and wanted to be self-employed.
My parents and my friends told me I was crazy, and tried to convince me to give up such a dumb idea. But I persisted. I worked a regular job during the day, 40, 50, even 60+ hours a week. Then at night and on weekends I worked on my side businesses to move myself toward the self-employed life I really wanted.
It took several years of too little sleep, and many sacrifices to do it, but I eventually reached my goal.
Many of us have to fight for what we want at the office. This involves some kind of ritualized corporate combat. You might be competing with a co-worker for a coveted position and have to work smarter, faster, or harder to get the promotion. You might have to go golfing with the boss, or start hanging out with the “in” crowd after work. This kind of thing is fairly common in the USA. It can be stressful but is usually pretty straightforward.
This is a modern way to fight for what you want.
Or you might have a boss who wants you to do something you think is unethical or immoral. Then you have a different kind of battle on your hands.
I once had a boss who insisted I do exactly that. She wanted me to help her shift the blame for her own failings onto another part of the company. The business was dying, and she wanted to be sure that the fallout from her bad decisions landed on someone else. It was sleazy, and not the kind of thing I wanted to be a part of. When I refused to help her, she banned me from the office and gave me an ultimatum. Agree to do what she wanted or lose my job.
I put a lot of thought into this one and eventually decided that it would be better to lose my job than to do something so dishonest. Fortunately, I didn’t have to. I won the fight to both keep my job and do the right thing. But to do so, I eventually had to violate the usual corporate rules of behavior and go over my boss’s head to get help from her boss. As you can imagine, it was a highly stressful few days, but after an internal investigation, the company backed me and terminated my boss.
Sometimes you have to fight for what you want in life. Even though “fighting for it” probably won’t involve physical danger in today’s world, it is still a messy, risky situation to be in. Hopefully the ideas I’ve given you here will help you decide if fighting is really your best course, and help you to win if you do go for it.
Welcome back to our series on how to get what you want in life. Last time we talked about the importance of knowing what you really want. Not what would make your mom happy or what society expects of you. What you, personally, really want in your life.
Hopefully you’ve spent some time thinking about this and have decided what you really want. If so, it’s time to go after it. In this post, we are going to talk about how to “ask for it” to get what you want in life.
We’ll start by clearing up a little confusion.
You Were Taught the Wrong Way to Get What You Want
If you’re like a lot of people, you are probably wondering why your life isn’t already the way you want it. You work hard. You follow all the rules. You’re a loyal employee doing everything the boss asks of you. You’re an all-around good person doing what you are supposed to do. Our parents did this and made out much better than we have. So is there something wrong with you?
I don’t think so. I mean, you could be some kind of screw-off who has wrecked your own life. But the fact that you are reading a blog like this tells me that isn’t it. I believe there are a lot of reasons you are in the mess you are in. And most of them are totally out of your control. Mega-factors like changing demographics and stupid government policies can explain much of why our generation isn’t doing nearly as well as previous generations. But there is one big factor that you can do something about.
To understand it, let me give you a 60-second history lesson.
A Quick History Lesson
The Industrial Revolution gave us huge leaps forward in productivity and standards of living. But an industrial society requires a certain type of worker, someone who:
Follows the rules
Over time the whole of Western society was geared toward turning normal people into hard working, rule following, interchangeable factory workers. Schools trained kids to behave like this. Our parents pounded the idea into our heads too. Employers and the government also extolled the virtues of this kind of behavior. Characteristics like initiative and flexibility could actually gum up the works.
At first, this was a pretty good deal. Sure, working in that manner is dehumanizing. Still, if you did your job and didn’t cause problems you could count on regular raises, the occasional promotion, and a comfortable, company-funded retirement. The system provided for most people pretty well without them having to take much initiative.
Working Hard & Following the Rules Isn’t Enough
But the world has changed a lot in the last couple of decades. The old industrial system is breaking down. The tacit deal of “work hard and follow the rules and we will take care of you” has collapsed. For the vast majority, getting what you want in life is much harder than it used to be.
If working hard and following the rules like you were told doesn’t work, what should you do to get what you want? You need to take the initiative…
You’ve Gotta Ask for It
If you want something in life these days, you have to ask for it. I know that can be a big issue for people, especially people in their 50’s and older. We had the old way beat into our heads from childhood. It is a hard mindset to break out of.
I spent much of my life living that way. Into my 40’s I thought if I just followed the rules and worked really hard, it would all magically turn out right in the end. No luck there.
I realized I had to change my thinking. Some of the old self-help gurus talked about asking for what you want. It was clearly the way to go, but it was hard. You need to muster the huevos to do it. You not only have to be willing to tell someone you want something from them, you have to face the fact that they are quite likely to tell you, “NO!”
Eventually I learned to ask for what I wanted. It wasn’t fun. Worse, it didn’t always work.
Over time, I learned that there is more than one way to ask for something. It is usually more complicated than simply saying, “Please sir may I have the keys to that Lamborghini over there?”
To get this you need to ask for it the right way.
How to Ask for It the Right Way
I learned that the right way to ask for something varies depending on circumstances. Asking someone to pass the salt while sharing a meal is pretty straightforward. Asking someone to give you something of significant value simply because you want it seldom works.
When you want something of real value, or getting the thing is really important to you, you want to propose a mutually-beneficial exchange. You get something you want in exchange for giving them something they want. This way both sides gain. A couple of examples of this might help:
Walking into a dealership and saying, “Please sir may I have the keys to that Lamborghini over there?” isn’t going to work too well. But adding the phrase, “Here is a cashier’s check for $200,000” is much more likely to get you your car. You’ve turned a crazy request into a mutually beneficial exchange.
At one startup where I worked, the boss had a reputation for being stingy. The other managers constantly complained that they couldn’t get purchase requests approved. Yet the first time I submitted one it was approved instantly. Why? The boss gathered us all around and explained it himself. “This request tells me not only what Bill wants to buy, but shows exactly how letting him buy it will save me far more money than it costs me. Of course I approved it.”
In both cases, to “ask for it” includes showing the other person why or how giving you what you want will benefit them. If you can muster the initiative to not only ask for what you want, but to ask for it this way, your life should start improving almost immediately.
Understand Their Needs When You Ask For It
Here’s a third example. My daughter and I were on our way to visit family in Pennsylvania and had stopped at a rest area on the NY Thruway. When we came out of the building, we saw a bunch of people staring from the parking structure out into the access road. They were staring at two guys who were standing next to their cars talking. Their fancy Lamborghini sports cars.
My daughter is a big fan of those vehicles and said she wished she could see the car better. I was in the middle of training myself to ask for things that I wanted, so I swallowed hard and walked the 15 yards or so to the two guys. I told them my daughter loved their cars and wanted to get a closer look.
One of the guys smiled, threw me the keys and said my daughter could sit in his car if she wanted! This was the result:
You have to ask for it to get the good stuff.
Once I broke the ice, all the people who were watching from the parking garage came flooding over. There were people everywhere staring at the cars and asking the owners questions. Everyone was having a great time. And then…
…another Lamborghini arrived, and another, and more and more. By the time they were done arriving, there were at least 60 of these super cars there.
It turned out to be a meeting of a group of Lamborghini owners from all over the Eastern USA who were making a run up to Canada. They were gathering at this spot to start their trip and were more than happy to show off their cars to us regular folk.
Bringing this back to the subject of this post, doesn’t this show that you can get the good stuff by asking? After all, I didn’t offer them money or anything like that.
In retrospect, it is pretty clear that these guys loved their cars and wanted to show them off. And they probably wanted a crowd of people in place to “ooh” and “aah” at their buddies as they arrived. They just needed one of the bystanders to get up the guts to come and talk to them. I offered the car owners exactly what they wanted in exchange for them letting my daughter sit in their car.
These days I try and look at things a little deeper. With enough information about the other party you can usually find something they will accept in exchange for what you want. Like everything else, you’ll get better with practice and won’t need to rely on the kind of luck I had that day.
What If Asking for It Doesn’t Work?
Now realize I am not guaranteeing that this will always work. There are lots of reasons someone might not give you what you want, even if you ask for it the right way.
You might not have anything to offer that they want
You might not be willing to offer what they want in exchange for what you want
What you want might not be theirs to give
They might dislike you too much to give you what you want
So what should you do if you can’t get what you want, even after asking for it the right way? That depends heavily upon the circumstances.
We’ll talk about the various possibilities in Step 3 of this series.
In previous posts, we talked about some of the ways you can be freer tomorrow. In the next few posts, I will be focusing on getting what you want in life. Unless you are incredibly lucky, the things you want in life are not going to just drop into your lap. Getting what you want in life isn’t easy. You’re going to need the personal strength to work for them. It is a multi-step process. Happily, each step helps build the strength you will need for the next step. Step 1 is to know what you really want in life.
How do you figure that out? The “follow your passion” approach is quite popular. Unfortunately, it is also quite wrong.
The Failings of the “Follow Your Passion” Approach
If you’ve spent some time working to improve yourself, you’ve probably noticed something. Most of the “self-help” advice being published these days really sucks. I’m seeing a lot of, “follow your passion and the universe will reward you” crap. It all sounds lovely. Just get that basket weaving degree and get cracking.
You will love what you are doing and somehow, everything will be wonderful. The world will recognize your genius and passion. You will become rich. Your ideal partner will find his or her way to you. Everything you want will materialize for you because of your passion for weaving baskets.
But life doesn’t work that way. Especially when times are tough like today. No one will give a damn about your baskets. You won’t become rich and famous. The man or woman of your dreams isn’t going to miraculously find you and bring you endless happiness. All the passion and wishing and affirmations in the world won’t make it happen.
There are two flaws in the “follow your passion” approach. The first is that passion is enough to somehow bring you success. All you have to do is think this through to see the fallacy. Tens of millions of kids have a passionate desire to be Olympic athletes. And only a few thousand make it.
Sadness will be your fate if you don’t know what you really want.
Know What You Really Want or You Will Fail to Get it
The second flaw to this approach is built in right at the start. You need to “follow your passion” for basket weaving or you won’t be happy.
Do you really want to build your life around some job (whether you are passionate about it or not)? Do you really want this to be the focus of your existence? When you’re on your death bed, do you really want to look back and say I was the best damn basket weaver in the world?
Or do you want all that other stuff instead? Do you really want the:
Wonderful life partner
And all that other stuff that is supposed to come your way when you “follow your passion?”
You Must Decide What You Really Want
Figuring out what you really want in life can be hard. In the USA, most adults know what they are supposed to want. The media tells you what you are supposed to want, and believe, and do. Advertisers use the latest psychological research to manipulate you into wanting whatever $#!+ they are selling. But digging out what you, personally, really truly want can take some serious work.
I’m not the guy to tell you how to figure this out. I wrestled with it for a long time, and I am sure there are more efficient ways of doing it. If you think it will help you, leave me a message at the end of this article. If enough people are interested, I’ll try and reconstruct the path I followed and do a post about it for you.
Your best bet is probably to consult wiser heads than me to help you figure this out. I suggest you:
Look for someone who has similar life experiences to you and has moved past them
If their focus is more on your job than the rest of your life, look elsewhere
If someone tries to convince you to “follow your passion,” look elsewhere immediately
NOTE: After publishing this post I did decide to post one technique that helped me a lot.
You Must Accept What You Really Want
Or perhaps the problem is that you know what you want and it isn’t what you are supposed to want. Society has expectations for us. It puts massive pressure on us to conform to those expectations. And part of that pressure is to like certain things and dislike other things. To want certain things and to not want other things.
An awful lot of us know what we want in life…and we know it isn’t what society says we should want. We might want something that we are unwilling to admit to others because we know they won’t approve. Our parents want us to be doctors, but we want to be video game designers. Society wants us to work our asses off to buy crap we don’t need, but we want to live a minimalist lifestyle.
We know that if we do what we want to do, it will upset someone. We will disappoint Mom. The people around us will rag on about how we’re wasting our potential. If we care about the opinions of others, this noise can make us feel bad about ourselves. It can make us pursue things in life that we don’t really want, in order to avoid upsetting expectations and feeling bad about ourselves.
This is something you need to get over if you are going to be freer and happier in the future. The pain of violating expectations, of pissing off your friends and family, is real. But it goes away. The pain of living a life you don’t want, just so someone else isn’t annoyed, never goes away.
Again, I am not an expert on doing this, but you have to do it somehow. If it takes professional help, go for it. You can wreck your life living this way.
Keep Your Mouth Shut
Or maybe you really know what you want and accept it. But you know that others won’t accept your choices. In today’s crazy world, people think they have the right to force you to think, to live, the way they want you to. So you may have to take steps to protect yourself.
For an extreme example, look at the 2016 US Presidential election.
People know they are supposed to want Hillary Clinton to be the next President. The media says so. The government says so. Screaming mobs of professional protesters demand that they support Hillary. If someone says they don’t support Hillary, they are asking for trouble. People might call them names. Their friends might shun them. Their Twitter account will suddenly disappear. Or even worse. As a result, many people in the USA are unwilling to say that they support Donald Trump for President.
So what’s the solution? When friends ask, they say what they are expected to say. When pollsters call, they tell the caller what they expect to hear. Or they hang up. They keep their mouths shut and their true feelings to themselves. They keep their true feelings to themselves to avoid unnecessary trouble.
Sometimes you have to keep your mouth shut.
They May Have to Lie. You Might Too
When pressed, they may have to lie to protect themselves. It sucks that they need to do it, but there is nothing wrong with this. Remember that this is a response to people trying to force them to do what they don’t want to do. To live their lives the way someone else wants them to. To think the way some self-appointed authority wants them to.
You may need to take this approach too.
I know that it is very “in” to tell everyone what you are going to do. It can definitely help you achieve goals when your friends and family will harass you if you don’t. However, where people won’t accept what you want to do, keeping your mouth shut is probably the way to go. Over time, you are likely to end up with a new set of friends that actually agrees with you, and supports you, but that’s a topic for another post.
This is Step 1
Once you know what you really want in life, you are facing in the right direction. Are you guaranteed to get everything you want? Hell no. Are you guaranteed to get any of it at all? No! But you at least have a fighting chance now. One that doesn’t rely on dumb luck or supernatural intervention. You’ve taken your first step.
In the next few posts we’ll talk about getting what you want once you know what you really want out of life. Start with this one: Ask for it to get what you want.