How To Ask For What You Want Even When You’re Scared To Death

How many times have you found yourself at a crossroads of desperately wanting something and being too afraid to ask for it? I’m willing to bet your answer is somewhere between 100 and too many to count. It seems like we as women are genetically programmed to underestimate our own power. The reality is, we’re badass warrior women, worthy and deserving of the things we want. Here’s how to take life by the balls and go get it.

  1. KNOW THYSELF. I saw this printed on a sign in my therapist’s office and now it’s written on my bathroom mirror in lipstick. To get what you want, you have to know what you want. What’s your motivation? Do you want to travel more? Maybe you’d like to settle down and start a family or maybe you want to take over the world and be an entrepreneur. Whatever it is, everything you’re doing now should be in service of your end goal.
  2. BE A TREE. You know the old adage: “If you don’t stand for something, you’ll fall for anything.” Think of yourself as a tree, tall and strong with roots that grow long and in every direction. For example, you know you’ve put in the hard work and long hours deserving of a promotion at work. When you bring this to the attention of your boss, he tries to lowball you. Let’s say you ask for a $2 raise and he offers you 50 cents. Are you going to fall for that? Hell no! You’re going to ask for what you know you’re worth, and take nothing less.
  3. LET FEAR BE YOUR FRIEND. Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway isn’t only an awesome self-help book but the motto by which you should be living your own life. There are so many twists and turns and curveballs that you never see coming. You know that feeling just before the roller coaster takes off? That’s life. However, the difference is that you can’t ask to get off of life before it starts. It’s already here, so feel the fear and let it be your friend. Let it be your biggest motivator. Don’t be scared of what will happen if you ask for what you want; be scared of what will happen if you don’t.
  4. ASK WITH CONFIDENCE. You know those women who seem to always have their heads held high, almost as if they’re balancing an invisible crown? They know exactly what they want, where they’re going, and how they’re going to get there. The truth is, these women have likely been in your shoes before—scared to death to ask for what they want due to a bevy of different excuses. Maybe they didn’t think they were qualified for the job. Maybe they were scared of having a difficult conversation with a loved one. But look at them now, walking around the world like they own it. And guess what? They do. So can you.
  5. SPEAK WITH INTENTION. We’ve all been there: palms are sweaty, knees week, arms are heavy… uh, something about spaghetti? You’re nervous. Your heart is about to beat out of your chest and you’re sure you’re going to pass out in 3, 2, 1. Stop. Take a breath. Collect your thoughts. Before you start word vomiting all over your boss’ new tie, take a moment to gather the words you want to use. Instead of beating around the bush, use your voice to shed light and give clarity to your desires. You’ll get where you want to go faster, and maybe even without pit stains!
  6. PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE. Practice might not make perfect but it sure as hell will make a more confident you. Make notes of what you want to say and study them like you’re back in Freshman year on Adderall.  Knowing what you’re going to say before you say it is key to clear communication. Future you will thank you for your hard work, and present you will feel more confident than ever. Just promise you’ll leave the Adderall out of this, okay?
  7. STICK TO SCHEDULE. You don’t have all day! This train is moving. Think about what you say before you say it, of course, but don’t go wasting days, months, or even years of your precious time because you’re scared of a conversation. Knowing when you want to accomplish your goals is just as important as knowing what your goals are. If you want to be married to the love of your life with a kid on the way within five years, it’s probably time to dump your deadbeat boyfriend.
  8. BE BOLD AND KIND. There’s nothing more inspiring to see than a woman who’s bold, strong, confident, and kind. As you very well know, you’ll catch more flies with honey than vinegar. Don’t approach the conversation with a negative attitude. Instead of saying, “I feel under-appreciated and overworked at this company,” maybe try, “I’ve appreciated the role this company has played in my life thus far and I’m hoping that feeling of appreciation extends both ways.” You’ll be surprised at the number of flies your honeypot will catch and the number of doors that will open.
  9. LEARN FROM FAILURE. As hard as you try, you might not get what you want— at least not right now. Instead of throwing yourself on your bed and eating the weight of your emotions in ice cream, try to find a way to learn from your experience. Are you asking for the right things? Are you asking the right people for the right things? Are you communicating in no uncertain terms what it is that you want? Answer these questions, give yourself a pep talk, and get back into the game.
  10.  JUMP. If all of the above advice happens to fail you, jump (figuratively, of course). Jump and figure it out on the way down. Sure, you’re terrified but you have a parachute, remember? Your friends are still going to support you. Your parents are still going to love you. Your dog is still going to think you’re the coolest kid on the block. Asking for what you want is scary, but it’s not going to kill you. And we all know that what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.
Blaire is a writer, improviser, and human being. She loves scalding hot bubble baths and long talks with her cat.