Do you want this………..?

If you can’t describe what you want, don’t say you never had a chance.

The people who complain the loudest about never having an opportunity in life are usually the ones who have no idea what they really want.  They end up as what Zig Ziglar calls “wandering generalities.”  They aren’t happy where they are but can’t tell you where they want to be.

And nothing is their fault.  They are victims of the economy, their upbringing, their lack of education, the country they live in, or the evil company they work for.  The real world puts them at a disadvantage.  I know a guy who just got out of prison after 10 years.  He’s now suing the prison because they did not adjust the temperature to his liking while he was incarcerated – definitely unfair.  I just got a lengthy email from a 50-yr old man who says he has “never had any success in life” because of how his parents control him.

And yes, any of us can find reasons for not attempting something spectacular – reasons for the mediocrity we have settled for.

Successful people, however, are not excuse-makers.  They take responsibility for their actions and the results they get.  Where others see obstacles, frustration, discouragement and despair, they see hope and opportunity.  They approach every situation with the enthusiasm, confidence and boldness that only comes from having a clear plan of action and the anticipation of a positive outcome.

If you’ve never had a chance, an even break or the right opportunity – check with the guy in the mirror.  He/she’s got the keys for the success you’re looking for.

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  • Terry

    I am one of those “wandering generalities”, without any idea of what I really want. What do I need to do to have that kind of clarity and precision? For the past two or three years I have had the vague sense that there is something more for me, but it has remained hazy and unclear. Is there a way to zero in on what that might be?

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  • Dan,

    Do people that have success generally have a little rebelliousness to them? I ask this because it seems that you need to go against standards to really stand out. Also my personality is a little rebellious to the norm.

    Josh Bulloc
    Kansas City, MO
    How can I help?

    • Josh – yes, I believe that a life of meaning and authenticity often defies convention and tradition. Not purposely being “rebellious” but recognizing that normal often buries our uniqueness.

  • Chad

    Dan, I love the post today. Thanks for all your insight and encouragement. I love listening to your podcasts each week.

  • Ken Gonyer

    Great challenge, Dan! I have been truly amazed to see instance after instance of success and opportunity arising simply because we decided what we were really after. Sometimes it seems like that’s all it took – writing something down as a goal and seeing it come to pass even without a lot of intention. More often there is a lot of hard work involved. Either way, it started with knowing what we wanted. This week our family celebrated as we purchased the farm adjacent to Hidden Springs (our place). Last year it was a dream. This year it’s where we’ll grow crops and raise animals!

  • Wayne

    I have always been one of those wandering generalities. I don’t see my self as a victim and I don’t blame anyone but
    me. I have just never known what I want to do.

    • Wayne – pay close attention to those times that put you in the “zone.” Times when things just seem to come together. I believe we all have those. Expect insight into your uniqueness. And then act on that insight.

  • Shawn

    It is encouraging to hear there are others who, like me, wander. I seek Gods council and ask for a passion for something. I would love to passionately sink my teeth into something and find success. I have tried out different opportunities that have come to me, but when I evaluate these and other possibilities I see nothing. And I wait. Don’t get me wrong I do not feel hopeless – just in a long season of winter waiting for a flame.

    • Shawn – are you finding why something won’t work before you give it a chance? When you say “when I evaluate these and other possibilities I see nothing” I suspect you are finding the fatal flaw before you give it a chance. Moving toward our passion doesn’t mean there are no obstacles to overcome. But we create a clear plan of action and then move forward with the confidence, boldness and enthusiasm that grow with our action.

  • Shannon Steffen | Human SEO

    I use my past as a mirror. Although there are too many horror stories in my childhood to write down, the power comes from using every bad thing that has ever happened to me as a “I never want that” check.

    When something happens, I look at it as a path in the road. One path leads me to the items listed in the “I never want that” column and the other leads to the “Heck yes! I WANT that!” list.

    There is no room for victim mentality in my life and my success is proof of that!

  • richard

    “Wandering generality” definitely describes me over the past 15 years. But last June I had an awakening that I need to do something else besides staying at my current job (15 years) that i’m miserable at. My passion is landscaping, but I don’t know how to get that going while working m-f 8hrs, and some saturdays. I can retire in 10 years (I’ll be 54) & receive a small pension, but I’m not sure I can make it that long being this miserable or if the job will still be here. If I knew what direction to focus my energy during my free time, I would attack it with laser intensity and I think would ease alot of my anxiety and give me some hope.

  • Susana Cabezas

    People who always feel they are the victims and can only accomplish things in areas in which they have innate ability…have a “fixed mindset” according to “Mindset – The New Psychology of Success” by
    Carol S. Dweck. The good news if we can change our fixed mindset to a growth mindset! Then we begin to focus on the process, take responsibility, and reign in our horse or even make it gallop…in the direction we choose.

  • stuart phelps

    I am in that wandering generalities boat, I don’t like it and don’t know how to get out of it. How do you develope a “Plan”,when you can’t figure out what to plan for? Mean while the bills still have to be paid. My mess just seems to get messier.

  • mike fink

    Dan- The encouragement Ive recieved from you has been instrumental in my (our!) new mindset- we know EXACTLY what we want, are moving toward it (site almost complete-phase one!), waste NO time blaming anyone for obstacles ,and, by Earl Nightengale’s definition, are already successful! Thank you so much for heeding the heart call to motivate and encourage others, you’re a blessing !

  • Scott

    To all of the people who have read the post and feel that this is describing them, do not despair. I have lived this life for many years, and have just recently begun the process of finding my true calling.

    I have always been one for instant gratification, and I can tell you this is not a situation that lends itself to such a notion. If you have lived your life for years not knowing what you want to do, don’t expect that overnight you will quit your job and pursue your dream. Sounds great, but it’s not realistic. Like Stuart said above, “the bills still have to be paid”. You must come up with a plan of action which can be derived from many sources (research, Dan’s 48 days book, etc.) and then follow the plan.

    I know probably more than anyone else that it’s not an easy process, but it is a journey to a much anticipated endpoint. The only thing I cannot comment on intelligently is what it feels like to be at that endpoint, as I am not there as of yet. Hopefully on a subsequent post, I can finally complete the process and give a detailed account of my journey – part of my goal is to help others along the way to my ultimate destination.

    • Scott – no matter where you are on the continuum of your life, TODAY is a perfect time to plan for the future you want. Once you can see the endpoint and create a plan of action you are well on your way.

  • Loren

    I have had to go down this road myself. I never, blamed others outright. I di conplain about how this and that wasn’t done right in work and my child hood.

    I never looked at all of my actions. I worked and studied hard to rise out of pverty to Middle Class. I had the wife, child, house, dual income, 3 cars (1 a company car), lots of travel and a huge expense account. I had home phone numbers of the upper management and the CEO.

    Was I happy, NO, NO, NO. WHY? I finally had to look at my choices. I made many that everyone around me thought were the right thing, exceptional and so on. But were they what I or God wanted of me.

    I failed to take inventory and make the tought decisions to plan up front. Now at age Forty One with a career wife, a child and a mortage It is harder to make new choices, more limited than when I was young. However, I’ve finially smartened up enough to look in, out, 360 degrees and to God for options and the “Calling”.

    It’s never to late. I encourage those of you younger reads to really focus on this. We all only have the rest of our lives to experience and be blessed. Don’t wait until your 41!! After proper planning and roughing in, leave day by day always keeping that path in site (your compass). This will help as we wander and veer around obsticales and seize oportunities.

    Don’t worry it waste time and ENERGY. Make educated, timely decissions. Most can be made wisely in under 72 hours (convinse many companies that and imagine the possiboilities with the gained time and man power).

    Live a purposeful life, there will be little to regret.


    • Loren – it’s certainly not too late at 41 to make the adjustments needed for the success you want. I often tell men to do whatever they want until they’re 50. If you then take a fresh look at where you are, clarify your purpose and create a plan, you can go into the most productive 20 years of your life. True success at 25 or even 35 is uncommon. Just keep working on the process – it’s an exciting journey.

  • Steve

    Sounds great in theory, but the reality is that sometimes you really never do have a chance, and it is beyond your control to do anything about it.
    For example:
    Since I was about 3 years old, I’ve always wanted to fly airplanes in the military. However, when I was about 12, my eyes started to go bad and I needed glasses. Corrected vision (less than 20/20) was not a waiverable condition for military pilot candidates at that time.
    *Poof* dream over.
    Yeah, I tried to get a waiver anyhow, I payed for flight training out of my own pocket, scored very high on all military entrance exams, graduated college with “Highest Honors”, and even had a senator try to persuade the military on my behalf, but they would not budge from their position because I wore glasses.
    I eventually joined the military and also became a commercial pilot, but I was never offered an opportunity to become a military pilot. So, sometimes you just really don’t have a chance.