5 Reasons You Don’t Have What You Want

I’m not sure what it is you want. Some of your wants might be simple or shallow. Others might be deep and lasting. Regardless, the things we want—really want—say something about us.

Do you want to lose weight? Do you want a new car? Do you want a baby? Do you want a more satisfying relationship with your spouse? Do you want to move overseas to work with a non-profit or ministry?

Photo Credit: martinak15, Creative Commons

When we pay attention to our wants—when we admit them and prioritize them—we wake up to the realities of ourselves and our life in a way that is really important.

Whatever it is you want—here are a few reasons you might still not have it.

1. You haven’t asked.

There’s a reason “you have not because you ask not” is a cliche. Because very often, it’s true. If you want something you don’t have, check to see if you’ve asked for it before you start complaining that it’s out of your reach. Asking for it might be uncomfortable (and in some cases, it might be inappropriate). But more often than not I would say we’re simply scared to ask.

Asking for what we want means being vulnerable enough to admit our deepest desires, and then being willing to accept when “no” or “not now” is the answer to our question.

2. You aren’t willing to give anything up.

Sometimes we have to give up what we want now for what we want later. Sometimes we have to give up something we don’t want very much in order to get what we desperately want. In other words, sometimes we need to give up chocolate cake today in order to enjoy being in shape tomorrow. Sometimes we have to get rid of clothes we don’t wear before we buy new ones.

I’m surprised how often I’m hesitant to let go of what I have without a promise of something better around the corner.

3. You don’t want what you think you want.

My high school English teacher told our class one day: “I hate those bumper stickers that say, ‘I’d Rather Be Fishing.’ If you’d really rather be fishing, you’d be fishing!” At first, I didn’t understand, but the more years that pass, the more I realize he’s right. Most of the time, I do what I want to do.

Even when I do something that feels uncomfortable (like going to the dentist, or showing up to work when I have a headache) there is something powerful motivating each of my actions. I choose what I do. I do what I want.

If you want to know what you really want, ask yourself how you spend your money, resources and  time.

4. You have the wrong view of obstacles.

I think many of us think of obstacles as evidence we’re moving in the wrong direction from what we want. We say things like, “the stars just weren’t aligning” or “I guess God didn’t want me to go that direction.” What if obstacles actually mean we’re going the right way. What if absolutely everything important in life is worth fighting for?

What would it look like for you to stand by the door until it opens? What would it look like for you to approach the obstacle, again and again, until you conquer it?

5. You’re not willing to change what you want.

Sometimes we change what we want, for any number of reasons. Maybe we realize that what we wanted was selfish or unfair, or maybe we discover something better that we didn’t know existed (so we didn’t know we could want it). Don’t be so attached “what you want” that you aren’t willing to change what you want for something better.

When wants become obsessions, we cross a dangerous line where wants become felt “needs” and even getting the thing we want won’t satisfy us as we had hoped.

9 comments on “5 Reasons You Don’t Have What You Want

  1. I really enjoy your posts Ally! You make me think every time. Something that I’m going through is deeply tied to #3 and that is “Not knowing what you want.” In this self-reflective state, I’m realizing that the thing I want (e.g. a satisfying relationship) (btw, I’m single) isn’t really what I want right now. I don’t know what I want and that’s what I need to spend time figuring out. I’m usually the one on the go, in the know, and two steps ahead. Now is the time for me to pause and reflect on what it is I really want.

  2. This statement couldn’t ring truer to me, “What if obstacles actually mean we’re going the right way. What if absolutely everything important in life is worth fighting for?”

    Every time we face an obstacle, if we want something basly enough, this is the point where our head’s say give up, go back, turn aeound- while our hearts say, this is it! I knew we’d get to this bump in the road! Now keep going. This is the place, the spot I told you would be scary, now keep going , anyway. ~Best

  3. 1 Reason I’m Unsubscribing to your Blog: Too many emails.

    Your blog and videos are great, but I’m reading them to pare down and get tips to bring calm to my life. Yet, you send out so many darned emails, that when I see them, I actually feel frustrated and anxious. And most are 5 reasons for this, 3 tips for this, etc. I feel stress trying to keep up with the tips. In my opinion, you are working at cross purposes, and your mission would be served better by exercising restraint. Just some feedback to consider. Thanks.

  4. Wonderful post Allison! I think #1 resonates the most with me. I don’t ask. Sometimes it’s because I feel what I want is selfish; even if it’s something I intend to use to help others! But mostly it’s because I’m scared – what if I can’t pull it off?

  5. A very well reasoned post. Point #4 – the wrong view of obstacles-really resonates with me. Don’t you think that as Christians we can be particularly susceptible to the idea that “God must be sending us a message” when we hit tough times. The idea of obstacles also makes me think of Laura Story’s song, titled “Blessings”.
    Bob Jackson

  6. I thought i wanted a marriage, the longer im without one the more i realize the obsticles to me outweigh the benefits. Its definately a want and not a need. Bc God makes needs readily available and even some wants i have to work for it seems to be worth it. To me it just seems God is keeping things from me He never really wanted me to have anyway.

  7. I guess i really have to want something enough, and the truth is bc ive had so many obsticles already to me if God makes things that much more difficults its His way of telling me no. I look at others and God opens a wide highway for certain blessings for them but EVERYTHING for me seems to be a fight. When is it God wants me to learn something and when is it Im making this hard bcause its not really for you. Friend i know have what i want but they didnt struggle half as hard as me. So im not really sure.

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