The Secret To Getting Just About Anything You Want In Life
The difference between people who achieve and those who stay stuck.
Like many people, I found myself with a lot of free time in March 2020. My departure from a part-time nannying job just happened to occur at the same time Los Angeles went into lockdown.
I ventured into the world of full-time writing with the excitement of taking my career to the next level. But, while writing for Medium had been great thus far, getting into bigger publications felt like a goal that was miles away.
But fast-forward to less than a year later, and I achieved my goals and more. My words are in Cosmopolitan Magazine, the Washington Post, I landed myself a book deal, and I was invited to speak at a writing conference alongside one of my favorite authors.
By pursuing my biggest career goals, without hesitation, I learned something significant about getting what you want in life. There’s really only one step that someone needs to take that separates those who get what they want and those who never do.
The secret? Becoming OK with rejection.
Most people never take the first step because they’re scared.
I won’t lie and say rejection doesn’t hurt. The first time an editor passed on a personal essay about my childhood, I felt a stab to my ego. When I received my first critical comment on an article, I felt like a loser with a capital L.
And while rejection isn’t enjoyable and is found to stimulate the same part of the brain as physical pain, it’s merely an obstacle in the road. You either climb your way over that fear, or you never venture down that path. You stay behind with the majority of the people who never see their dreams come to fruition.
And what I’ve noticed about my friends who want to “start a business” or become “famous” online, most never will. There’s something that stops most people from taking that first step, and it’s fear.
The good news is, facing rejection head-on gets easier.
You may be thinking, “Hah. It’s not that simple. The world is f*cking scary, Kirstie. My fears are very paralyzing.”
And yes, I agree. I let my fears control the majority of my life. I stayed in a physically abusive relationship because I feared change. I went into debt pursuing a career I didn’t like because I feared what people would think if I wasn’t “successful.”
But at some point, you have to do what feels impossible to achieve what feels impossible.
If you find it hard to take my word on overcoming a fear of rejection, then let’s look at behavioral therapy. One way that therapists help people with paralyzing fears is a thing called exposure therapy.
Little by little, people purposely expose themselves to situations where they get rejected (whether it be dating, career-wise, or other facets of their life). While it’s horrible to deal with at first, they slowly because desensitized to rejection.
Over time, that fear starts to vanish.
If you shoot your shot enough, you’re bound to make one in.
While it might sound cool to say I’ve written for Cosmopolitan Magazine or The Washington Post, that doesn’t consider all the rejection or flat-out ignored emails I sent before these opportunities.
I sent around twenty or so emails to publications before I received a yes. And while some people might find that disheartening, I simply see it as an odds game. Not all of my ideas are going to be a win. Not every publication will see them as a good fit.
But the more ideas I send out, the better my odds are of getting a yes.
The same goes for anything you do in life. A slew of people might reject you before someone finally agrees to go on a date with you. You’ll end up going on many job interviews before you get a yes.
But all you need is that one person who’s a good match for you. All you need is one company to offer you a position to have a job.
The 2008 novel Hunger Games has an iconic quote, “may the odds be ever in your favor.” But unlike those children being pitted against each other to fight to the death, you can make the odds even more in your favor by trying enough times.
Consider your worst fears and you’ll realize they’re not that bad.
Since undertaking “shooting my shot” as my mantra for building my career, I realized that my worst fears really aren’t that scary.
Take, for instance, October 2020. I’d hit what I felt was a plateau in growing my newsletter. I built my weekly relationship and dating newsletter with a platform called Substack. So, naturally, I figured I’d email the company's founder for advice on growth hacking.
He ended up getting back to me and putting me in contact with Substack’s publishing strategist. She gave me great advice and even reached back out when my newsletter hit 1,000 subscribers.
I told my friend that I reached out to the founder of Substack and was shocked I had the audacity to do such a thing.
Well, a few months later, I was invited to speak at Substack’s first conference. I wholly believe it’s because my initial email put me on their radar.
The point of this story is simple: had I never emailed the founder of Substack, my life would be as it was. Had I emailed the founder and never heard back from him, my life would be as it was. Both of those outcomes would be the same.
So why not shoot my shot?
Your fears in life hold you back as much as you let them. Sure, getting past a stark avoidance of rejection isn’t easy, but it’s the defining difference between going after what you want and staying where you are.
And, when it comes down to it, the fear tends to be scarier than the actual rejection itself. Sure, receiving rejection emails hurt, but the pain subsided a mere five minutes later.
It’s easy to build up worst-case-scenarios in your head. Outcomes tend to be less of the dumpster fire we’ve imagined for it. At the very least, take a small step forward and see what happens.
I promise it’s less scary than you think.