There is a quote I love, actually a poem, by Jessie B. Rittenhouse, “My Wage,” The Door of Dreams, p. 25 (1918).
“I bargained with Life for a penny,
And Life would pay no more,
However I begged at evening
When I counted my scanty store.
For Life is just an employer,
He gives you what you ask,
But once you have set the wages,
Why, you must bear the task.
I worked for a menial’s hire,
Only to learn, dismayed,
That any wage I had asked of Life,
Life would have willingly paid.”
I’ve always been afraid to ask life for what I wanted. I’ve been afraid of imposing on others, being seen as a beggar and even of people getting mad at me for asking.
I’ve held myself back many times because of this and am working on allowing myself to forget my self-imposed restraints, to reach beyond my comfort zone and experience more, do more and be more.
Give yourself permission to ask for what you want.
It really is OK to ask for what you want. Even the Bible suggests that you should in Luke 11: 5 – 13:
“Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you: For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.”
Margie Warrell, whom I have just discovered, gives us 7 Keys to Asking for What Your Really Want So You Get It. She suggests that we expect no one to read our minds, that we should be direct instead of hinting around the subject – specifying what we want and when we want it. She also advises us to not be shy – don’t ask for just the minimum because you are afraid of a no, ask for all you want. One thing that struck me as particularly true were her words about what we tolerate:
“Every day, through what you say and do, you teach others how to treat you. If you allow others to take you for granted, to overstep your personal boundaries, or to be outright disrespectful, you are complicit in it.”
She has written several books to help women, in particular, live a more courageous life, asking for what they want.
Countless motivational preachers and speakers suggest that we visualize what it is that we seek. Reinforcing our vision each day by picturing the end result, deliberately telling ourselves (even out loud) what it is we seek and confirming that we can move beyond our own limitations.
Who asks for what they want?
I know (and am a bit jealous of) a lady who seems fully able to ask life for what she wants. Although she went through an emotional and messy divorce several years ago, she seems to be asking and receiving from life.
She asked for a well paying job, and was able to step right back into a management position at a major accounting firm – even after 10 years as a stay at home Mom. She didn’t have to re-qualify or re-certify or get additional education to do so, and she stepped back in at a salary in the 70’s!
Although she frequently complains to family about her money situation, she is able to ask for and get things she wants. For example:
She used her bonus to put in a new laundry room, even while worrying about sending her high school senior to college. He ended up getting a full ride scholarship!
Instead of repairing a storm damaged garage roof (with money given to her for that purpose), she asked life for a trip to London and got it. She used frequent flyer miles from her business travel for one leg of the airfare.
She gives herself permission to step beyond the bounds of her finances and seems to land on her feet each time. Is she asking life for a big wage, or just being foolish with her money. Sometimes I wonder.
More and more women are giving themselves permission. CEOs like Marissa Mayer (Yahoo); Virginia Rommetty (IBM); Irene Rosenfeld (Kraft) and Ursula Burns (Xerox) no doubt are others who have learned how to ask life for what they want!
Maybe most of us don’t even know what it is that we want from life. Once we figure it out, we need to give ourselves permission to seek it.
Are you asking life for a penny?