Jimmy Cliff

There’s a great song out there by Jimmy Cliff, one of reggae’s top artists, that in six words summarizes just how you succeed in life: I want I do I get. These six words are a very powerful way of connecting what you want with what you will achieve.

First comes wanting something – a better life for yourself, your family, more money, a better job, whatever it is you dream about and long for. You desire it, you dream about it, you daydream about it, you yearn for it. But that’s not enough.
Next – and this the part too many people forget about – comes the doing. All of the wanting in the world is not going to move you one inch closer to what you want: you have to do. You have to find a better job, change jobs, take risks, write software, try new things, stop doing old things, go to college, work, act, do. The doing is the absolutely indispensable connection between what you want and what you get.

Finally, if you keep doing what needs to be done, if you keep adjusting what you do to move you closer to what you want, you get. Maybe not easily, maybe not as quickly as movies and television portray, but it will come.

If these six words connect with you, maybe it’s time to do your “I want I do I get” audit:

  • I want. Find a quiet place you can be alone and ask and answer this deceptively simple question: What do you want? Not what your boss, parents, relatives, friends or significant other want. What do you want? What matters to you that you’re prepared to spend your days, weeks maybe years getting? Be honest with yourself – the stakes are high. More than a few people have wasted their lives because they never really asked themselves what they really wanted.
  • I do. After you’ve gotten clear on what you want, what are you prepared to do about it? And you thought the step above was hard! When you start looking at what it’s going to cost to get what you want, you may decide that cost is too high. That’s fine. The more you understand the cost, the better you will appreciate the value. Don’t be surprised if you go back and forth between clarifying your wants and calculating the costs of what you want – and that’s a good thing.
  • I get. This is where you get your just desserts, right? Maybe. Way too many people find they get what they worked long and hard for only to find there’s a rather nasty catch. The man who climbs the corporate ladder, only to become estranged from his family. The women who forsakes a career to be a mother, but never gets over knowing what she could have achieved in the business world. It’s up to you to define what you want to get, so take the time to think through what you want to get really looks like.

One final philosophical note about these six words: notice that “I” is three of them? Not what others want, not what others say you are “supposed” or “should” do. What’s more, no one is going to do it for you. You are the key to making these six words work.

Bob Walsh writes, codes, podcasts and blogs about different aspects of the digital lifestyle at ToDoOrElse, MyMicroISV and Clear Blogging. His second book, Clear Blogging, is now available at Amazon and elsewhere.

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