I Could Do Anything If I Only Knew What It Was cover

I Could Do Anything If I Only Knew What It Was - Book Summary

How to Discover What You Really Want and How to Get It

Duration: 19:41
Release Date: July 5, 2024
Book Author: Barbara Sher with Barbara Smith
Category: Personal Development
Duration: 19:41
Release Date: July 5, 2024
Book Author: Barbara Sher with Barbara Smith
Category: Personal Development

In this episode of 20 Minute Books, we delve into "I Could Do Anything If I Only Knew What It Was" by Barbara Sher. This insightful book serves as a beacon for those who feel lost or uncertain about their life's direction. Barbara Sher, a renowned therapist and the godmother of life coaching, utilizes her extensive experience to guide readers through discovering what they truly want from life and how to pursue these aspirations effectively.

Sher’s book is filled with practical advice, including exercises and tactics tailored to help each individual overcome common obstacles to goal-setting. Whether you're someone who's unsure about what they want, a high achiever who feels something is missing, or someone struggling to figure out their next steps, this book promises to offer valuable strategies to clarify your goals and achieve them.

Barbara Sher's credibility is bolstered by her celebrated career spanning five decades as a therapist, career counselor, and successful business owner. Her influence reached a global audience through numerous media appearances and her establishment of worldwide "Sher's Success Teams." Moreover, she authored several impactful books, including the bestseller "Wishcraft" and the motivational award-winning "Live the Life You Love."

Join us as we explore how to tap into your potential and uncover what you truly desire, armed with the wisdom and methods provided by Barbara Sher in "I Could Do Anything If I Only Knew What It Was."

Discovering your true desires: Unveil what you really want in life

Are you ever perplexed by what you truly desire from life? Perhaps you're floating in a sea of self-help material and courses that promise to help you grasp your dreams, but find yourself uncertain of what those dreams genuinely consist of — then Barbara Sher's book, "I Could Do Anything If I Only Knew What It Was," is tailored for you.

In her sequel to the beloved book "Wishcraft," Barbara encounters numerous individuals who can chase goals, yet stumble when it comes to setting them. Realizing this widespread dilemma, she penned this guide to illuminate the underlying reasons holding us back from understanding our true aspirations.

Sher firmly believed in a core principle: "There is always a good reason for everything." It's not about a lack of talent or motivation, but about pinpointing the barriers in your path.

Though the essence of your desires is as singular as you are, the blockades to discovering them are surprisingly universal. We will delve into these common hurdles first, setting the stage for deeper insight.

The book outlines several scenarios that often entangle individuals in a web of stagnation. These include remaining in comfort zones despite a yearning for change, maintaining an appearance of success while internally struggling, or feeling aimlessly drifting after achieving long-sought goals.

Identifying with any of these situations? Don't worry — Sher provides targeted exercises crafted to guide you through these mazes. With these tools, you will embark on a journey to uncover and pursue what you genuinely want from life. Let's explore these pathways together, and set the foundation for a life filled with purpose and passion.

Breaking free from expectations, inertia, and unseen hurdles

Navigating through life, three formidable barriers often prevent us from discovering what we truly want: the pressures of others' expectations, the inertia of non-action, and the subtle, elusive presence of hidden resistance. Understanding each of these can be transformative in your journey towards self-discovery.

Let's start with the expectations of others. It's not uncommon to find ourselves shackled by an invisible burden of what we believe others anticipate from us. Whether it's family traditions dictating career paths or societal norms shaping our life choices, these external influences often drown out our inner voice. Imagine growing up in a family where everyone is a healthcare professional, and any deviation is seen not just as odd but almost as a betrayal. Or perhaps, continuous criticism about a particular profession from a loved; these narratives subtly program our own aspirations.

To break away from the cacophony of these external voices, initiate an exercise: list down key figures in your life alongside their expectations of you. Identify which of these have swayed your decisions and reflect on whether these decisions have contributed to your happiness. This clarity will aid in aligning future choices with your genuine desires rather than someone else's script.

Next is the trap of non-action—a state of limbo where nothing changes because nothing is initiated. While it's daunting to take steps when the end goal is unclear, action itself can be a powerful clarifier. Engaging in different activities, no matter how trivial, can illuminate preferences and hidden aversions, bolstering self-confidence and occasionally opening doors to unexpected opportunities. Embrace the experimental approach; try new things to spark revelations about what really resonates with you.

Lastly, we confront hidden resistance, a personalized fortress of doubts and fears that subtly undermines our aspirations. Unlike obvious obstacles, hidden resistance is insidious, weaving a dense fog around our dreams and making them appear unattainable.

To penetrate this fog, Barbara Sher suggests a thought-provoking exercise. Envision your ideal job—not bound by practicalities but purely from what would bring joy and fulfillment. Consider the nature of the tasks, the environment, even the schedule. Conversely, envision the worst conceivable job using the same parameters, then invert those conditions into positives. This exercise not only serves as a tool for understanding preferences but also acts as a detector for hidden resistances. As you delve into this imagined ideal role, monitor your emotional reactions. What hesitations arise? What inner voices of doubt emerge? Documenting these reactions helps pinpoint the root of your resistance.

With this newfound awareness of others' expectations, the paralyzing effect of non-action, and the undercurrents of hidden resistance, you're better equipped to confront and conquer these challenges. By systematically dismantling these barriers, the path to understanding what you truly want becomes less cluttered, guiding you towards a life of genuine purpose and satisfaction. Now, armed with insights and exercises, the journey to uncovering your desires promises not just self-relevance but a profound liberation from the shadows of unspoken constraints.

Embrace small shifts for substantial growth

Consider the scenario where someone stays in a less-than-ideal job because it provides financial stability. This common situation was powerfully illustrated through Barbara Sher's anecdote about a fictional character named Jerry, revealing the conflict between security and passion which many individuals face.

Jerry wanted to be a screenwriter but found himself stuck in an editorial role that drained his energy and left him too exhausted to pursue his creative ambitions during his off hours. On the surface, his reluctance to leave his job seemed to center around financial security and the company of coworkers. However, upon deeper reflection, Jerry realized that his true reluctance stemmed from an over-identification with his job role, which clashed with his inner desire to write screenplays.

Sher guides us through how Jerry navigated this dilemma by simply starting to write a little each day, slowly redefining his identity from an editor to a screenwriter. This minor change had a ripple effect, enhancing his job satisfaction and overall happiness. This case exemplifies how integrating small doses of your passion into your daily routine can help balance safety with fulfillment. It's a feasible strategy for those who naturally gravitate towards security.

The underlying causes of this cautious approach often link back to early-life experiences. Factors like overprotective parenting, unstable or excessively stable home environments can predispose individuals to prioritize security. Recognizing these influences is crucial in understanding one's decisions and crafting a tailored approach to break out of comfort zones.

Adopting small changes can significantly impact personal growth and happiness, as shown by other examples from Sher’s workshops. One participant found personal time by substituting the chore of making family dinners with an hour of reading each evening. Another exchanged regular ironing for some freed-up time to engage in activities they were passionate about.

These illustrations underline a profound message: small actions can indeed lead to big impacts. By making minor adjustments to make room for what you love, you establish a practical path toward integrating your passions into your daily life. This not only supports personal fulfillment but also minimizes the risk associated with major life changes, creating a sustainable way to pursue your dreams alongside maintaining necessary security.

Reevaluating success to align with true happiness

Often, we find ourselves envied by others for what looks like a picture-perfect life — a stable job, a comfortable home, a lovely family, or even fame in a high-profile profession. Yet, it’s possible to have all these and still feel unfulfilled or unhappy. What then? This is the conundrum Barbara Sher explores, especially addressing those who seemingly have it all yet still hunger for something more profound or different.

Even if you are thriving by conventional standards, you might internally grapple with the reality that your success isn't as satisfying as you expected. Adding to this internal conflict are fears of financial instability or societal judgment should you decide to shift gears. Sher identifies these feelings across various scenarios, such as sticking in unfulfilling roles, dealing with overwhelming work demands, toxic environments, or realizing that the culmination of your efforts feels disappointingly hollow.

To navigate these complex feelings, Sher advises a two-pronged approach. First, she encourages fostering emotional awareness to assist in navigating these troubled waters. Recognizing and respecting your true feelings can serve as a compass, pointing you in the direction of much-needed change. To facilitate this introspection, Sher suggests a simple journaling exercise: divide a notebook into sections labeled "anger," "fear," and "hurt." Within each, exhaustively document what triggers these emotions in your life. This process isn't just cathartic; it also clarifies areas in your life that need change, effectively reducing stress and aiding in decision-making.

Second, prepare financially for the transition you envisage. Regardless of whether your dream involves stepping back to enjoy a simpler life or pivoting to an entirely new career, financial cushioning is crucial. Gradually adjusting your spending to save more can secure the freedom to explore other paths without immediate pressure. This step is vital, not only as a practical measure but as a psychological one, providing peace of mind as you venture into new territories.

Barbara Sher not only addresses those wrestling with unfulfilling success but also touches on individuals who have experienced the zenith of their dreams, only to lose it. In these cases, Sher provides guidance on resetting and rebuilding, ensuring that one can recover and find fulfillment again, perhaps on a new path.

In essence, Sher's insights encourage us not to settle for superficial success but to strive for a fulfilling life that resonates with our deepest aspirations and values. By tuning into our emotions and preparing strategically, we can courageously alter our courses towards a more satisfying and meaningful existence.

Transforming life's big changes into new beginnings

In the journey of self-discovery and fulfillment, not everyone starts from a place of uncertainty. Some have already sailed close to their dreams but find themselves adrift again due to major life changes or significant losses. Whether it's career disruptions, empty nests, or more profound losses like the death of a loved one or a career-ending injury, these pivotal moments demand a reinvention of one's purpose and direction.

Barbara Sher categorizes these experiences, focusing on how individuals can navigate these waters to find renewed meaning in their lives. The approach she advocates involves a methodical reflection on past passions and present possibilities, a process she calls finding your "touchstones."

For those encountering life transitions, Sher suggests an exercise filled with nostalgia but with a practical twist. Take a pen and paper and chronologically list out activities you enjoyed at different ages, starting from as far back as you can remember. Perhaps at five, it was something simple like playing with blocks, and by fifteen, it evolved into a love for building model airplanes. This exercise isn't just about reminiscing; it's about searching for patterns that reveal consistent themes—your personal touchstones that have persisted over time. These themes can serve as guides as you chart a new course in your changed circumstances.

For individuals dealing with profound loss, Sher recommends a slightly different, more introspective approach. Begin by writing a heartfelt essay detailing what was cherished about the life that is now altered. This can be an emotional process, but it’s a crucial step in transforming grief into something palpably positive. After articulating these memories, extract elements that brought deep satisfaction and joy. Identify up to three core elements and explore how these can be adapted or reintroduced into your new life context. This might mean cultivating a new hobby that echoes a past passion or even a complete career pivot inspired by previously overlooked desires.

In both scenarios, Sher emphasizes the importance of recognizing that while the past cannot be changed, the future remains a landscape of possibilities open for exploration. The act of identifying your touchstones is fundamentally about remembering that choices remain, even in the wake of upheaval. It's a powerful reminder that periods of transition, while challenging, can also be the starting points for profound personal growth and discovery.

The key takeaway from Sher's guidance is a message of empowerment: no matter the nature of the loss or change, redefining your purpose and finding fulfillment again is not only possible but a journey worth taking. Embrace the opportunity to redefine your desires and aspirations, and allow the new insights to lead you to a refreshed, fulfilling life path.

Unlocking the keys to true desires

It might seem straightforward, but identifying what you truly want is a complex dilemma that many grapple with. Barbara Sher’s insights offer not just clarity, but also tactical steps to uncover your deepest desires and confront the barriers that hinder you from reaching them.

Whether you are stuck in a job due to the allure of security, wrestling with the dissatisfaction that lurks beneath the surface of a successful life, or facing a major life upheaval that demands a reevaluation of your goals, Sher's approach is universal. She emphasizes the critical role of understanding your personal fears and obstacles, and meticulously tailoring your strategies to overcome them.

Her innovative exercises encourage practical steps, like small adjustments in daily routines that lead to significant life changes. Moreover, for those who have reached what seemed like the pinnacle of their dreams only to find it unfulfilling, Sher offers guidance to redefine success in a way that aligns more closely with one's personal values and happiness.

Even in the face of life's unpredictable changes—such as career setbacks or personal losses—Sher's methodologies equip you with the tools to recalibrate and pursue new purposes. Her wisdom teaches us that through introspection, action, and a willingness to explore new paths, finding and fulfilling your true desires is always within reach.

No matter where you find yourself in your journey, Sher’s guidance assures that you have the capacity to navigate through your challenges, harness your innermost aspirations, and live a life that resonates deeply with who you truly are.

I Could Do Anything If I Only Knew What It Was Quotes by Barbara Sher with Barbara Smith

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