3 Reasons You Don’t Get What You Want

Heather Hansen
8 min readJun 5

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I’ve coached hundreds of women on how to ask for what they want and get it. They come to me to become a stronger advocate for themselves, their ideas, their bank accounts, their careers, and their potential. I combine my twenty years of experience as a trial attorney with my psychology degree, my training as a mediator, and my experience as a TV anchor to give them the tools to become their own best advocates. And I’ve found there are 3 reasons these women aren’t getting what they want. I’d bet they are the same reason you don’t get what you want.

1-You don’t know (or own) what you want.

2-You don’t ask for it–out loud and with delight.

3-You haven’t mastered the art of the ask.

Let’s look at how these three things hold you back by considering my client Jennifer. We started working together in 2021. Jennifer continues to work with me two years later because she has seen such great results. She’s getting what she wants in all aspects of her life. But that’s not how it started.

It started because she did not get what she wanted. Jennifer was in her late 40s and had created a beautiful life. She had a wonderful husband, made a lot of money, and had wonderful children. Yet she wanted more. And she was afraid to want more. She thought she wasn’t being appreciative of the things that she already had. Jennifer was well aware that she was lucky that she had a lot of things that other people don’t have. And in fact, she is a very generous woman. She gave a lot of her money to people who had less. Jennifer had a serious guilt complex about having all of the things that she had and still wanting more. It made her uncomfortable to admit that she might want more money, more freedom, more time, more fun, more love, better relationships, and more opportunities. She wanted those things, but she was afraid to admit it

Jennifer also didn’t believe that it was accessible to her. For example, she’s in tech and she wanted to become a bigger thought leader in her industry. She wanted to do speeches and podcasts, to be seen as a leader in that world. But she was not even asking for those opportunities. She also felt stuck in the job she’d had for 15 years. She wanted to move on, move up, get more, see more, and do more. Jennifer was also really afraid of conflict in her personal relationships. She had a beautiful relationship with her husband, but often didn’t get what she wanted and sometimes didn’t even say what she wanted because she was afraid of conflict with her husband. She felt as though she “never won” any arguments with her husband and therefore felt that it wasn’t even worth it. Instead of asking for what she wanted and getting what she wanted, she did not even try.

Jennifer said it felt like she was in a swirl–that things were happening around her and she was caught up in those things. She often felt that she was swirling by mentally comparing herself with other people. Whether it was at her work, with other relationships, with other mothers, or with other people in her Peloton classes, she felt that she was constantly comparing. The comparison was causing her to be “in a swirl” and she hated that swirl.

She also felt like she didn’t have any time. Jennifer didn’t have any time for herself. She didn’t have the time for the thought leadership that she wanted to do or the workouts that she wanted to do. Her days felt so chaotic that she didn’t even enroll her children in extracurricular activities because she worried she wouldn’t have time to take them.

Recently Jennifer decided to take a break from coaching for the summer so we talked about her progress. She shared that now she loves wanting more because it means that she is continuing to reach towards her potential. She loves the idea that her potential never ends, that she can always want more and will always want more as long as she is alive. She believes that is what she’s here for– to keep growing and changing and getting more. She also loves the fact that she now knows what she wants and she owns it. She owns the fact that she wants more and she loves the fact that that’s never gonna end. She also said that she loves that she’s able to say it out loud. She’s able to say out loud that she wants more and she’s able to say what she wants, what that “more” is out loud. Jennifer feels she has stepped into her power. She said that she has recognized that wanting more means that she has more to give, that she has more to do in this world, that she has more to generate, more to create, and more to share. And that has really been a motivating factor for her.

When we started working together, she really wanted a pool in her backyard and she had all kinds of beautiful ideas about what this pool would mean. She told herself stories about how they’d enjoy the time together by the pool. She’d been wanting this pool for eight years and now, two years after working together, the pool is in and all of those dreams that she had of spending time together by the pool are now real. She also has felt a shift in her marriage because she is able to ask for what she wants and many times she gets it. She doesn’t feel like she has to be afraid of conflict or afraid of losing.

Jennifer also left a job that she had been in for over 10 years. In the two years that we’ve been together, she got a new job that was not a lateral, it was a higher position. It’s a bigger role and she is making considerably more money as a result of the work that we’ve done together. She also has become more of a thought leader. She has done webinars and podcasts, sharing her ideas on the technology that she works on and in and on being a woman leader in technology. Her children are now in dance, music, and lacrosse. They are doing the things, the extracurricular activities that she had wanted. She also is not only giving her money now, but she also volunteers her time for some causes that are important to her. And she feels as though she has even more time for herself and the Peloton workouts she loves so much.

Jennifer’s story is proof that if you want more, you’re meant to have it. If you want more, it simply means that you haven’t reached your highest potential. And there are three reasons for that.

The three reasons you don’t get what you want are-

1-You don’t know/own what you want

2-You don’t ask for it, out loud and with delight.

3-You haven’t mastered the ask.

Let’s go through each one.

You don’t know/own what you want.

There are many women who tell me “I don’t know what I want”. Most of the time we find that that’s not true. They actually know what they want, but they’re reluctant to admit it. You might be the same. You’re reluctant to own the want, to own the thing that you want, and to own the fact that you want more.

Another aspect of not knowing what you want is just not sitting down and being clear on it. You need to use your imagination and not be afraid of what you want. It helps to be willing to say that you want something and then maybe change your mind. Maybe you’ll get what you want and realize that you want even more than that, or that it’s not exactly the thing that you wanted. That’s no problem. You get to want something more. But many of you have this idea that if you want something, it is the only thing you can ever want. And if you get it, then you’re not allowed to want anything else. That’s wrong. This is not a one-shot deal. You get to keep wanting and getting, for as long as you live.

Finally, it’s not enough to know that you want more. You’ve got to be more specific than that. Because when you say you want “more”, it doesn’t allow you to ask for it. Who do you ask for more? Who do you ask for more if you don’t know what the “more” is? The more specific you can be with what you want, the more likely you are to get it.

You’re not asking, out loud and with delight.

This was one of Jennifer’s problems. She wasn’t asking for what she wanted from her husband because she was afraid of conflict. She wasn’t asking for what she wanted at work because she was afraid and unwilling to want more money, more opportunities, and more responsibilities. And so she was not asking for it. She was not asking herself to do the things that she would have to do in order to get more time. She wasn’t asking her children to help out more around the house to give her more time. Because she was not asking for what she wanted, she could never get it.

One very clear reason that people don’t get what they want is they’re not asking for it. You have got to know what you want specifically so that you can ask the right person out loud and with delight. You want to delight in the asking. You want to be so sure of what you want and how much fun it will be for you to get it that you’re enjoying the ask. It’s also easier to ask with delight when you know that the person you’re asking will also win. If you don’t believe that it’s a whole lot harder to get what you want.

You haven’t mastered the art of the ask.

Mastering the ask is asking well. It’s asking in a way that actually resonates with the person that you are asking. Mastering the art of the ask means you know the person that you’re asking and what they want. It means you’ve considered your ask from their perspective and found something in your ask that will serve them as well.

Jennifer worked on this with the pool. Together we worked on a list of all the ways having a pool would serve her husband. He wouldn’t have to take the children to the public pool. He would have less yard work to do. They could have more get-togethers with friends, which he enjoyed, without having to clean/prep the house, which he didn’t enjoy. Jennifer found the win for her husband and then asked in a way that he saw the win as well.

If you’re one of those people that ask often but rarely receive, you likely need to master the art of the ask. It is an art, but when you practice it you’ll find yourself getting what you want much more often.

Once you know what’s stopping you from getting what you want, you can start to address it. You can do the work to know (and own) what you want, getting clear and specific. You can begin to ask, out loud and with delight. And you can do the work to master the art of the ask.

When you find out which of these reasons is holding you back, you can work on it. Then you’ll start to get what you want, more quickly and more easily than ever. You’ll become your own best advocate. And you’ll start collecting your wins.

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Heather Hansen

Author of The Elegant Warrior-How to Win Life’s Trials Without Losing Yourself. Host of The Elegant Warrior podcast.https://advocatetowin.com/