Can you get what you want in life and achieve greatness by not doing things?

How do you get what you want from life? It’s a question that many of us ponder. Some people seem to be able to get what they want with ease. Others seem to struggle to move in the direction they want.

A common go-to method is breaking down the goal into a step-by-step guide on what we must do to achieve our goals.

The question we always seem to be asking ourselves is, ‘what do I need to do to reach my goals?’

But what if the better questions is, ‘what do I need to STOP doing to reach my goals?’

Let me explain.

What can we learn from trash TV?

During the UK lockdown, I’ve spent a great deal of time watching trash TV. That has been both entertaining and a waste of time (In my defence, pre-pandemic, I rarely had time to watch telly.!)

There is a certain irony here that I’m talking about getting what you want from life while writing about trash TV, but please, bear with me! Thankfully, not all that time spent watching trash TV was a waste, and I gleaned some gems of wisdom by watching certain programs.

get what you want
The Below Deck Crew

The show ”Below Deck” is a fly on the wall documentary about a luxury superyacht crew. The crew are all young and ambitious 20-30 somethings, and basically, their job is to run around after wealthy guests providing for their every whim. Sounds fun, right?

If you wanted a seasonal job, in a beautiful part of the world, and probably have a lot of fun, working on this yacht would be a great experience. Also, the tips from the guests seem to vary between $1000-2000 a week. Pretty good if you have no living costs, right?

Scirocco Superyacht – I wouldn’t mind taking a trip on this boat.

The ‘Chief Stew’, short for Chief Steward, in Below Deck was a 30-year-old lady named Hannah. She’d had eight years’ experience working on yachts and had worked her way up to a position of responsibility. However, the first thing she said in episode one, was ‘I don’t want to do this forever, and I want to find a husband so I can have a family and the white picket fence house.’ Fair enough.  That’s a great goal, and I think it is a common goal for many people in the world.

However, having already been dragged through several episodes from other seasons, I was a little alarmed by this declaration. If that was what Hannah truly wanted, then what she was doing being almost as far away from that dream as possible? She was on the road to disappointment. Let me explain why.

Starting with the husband ambition, most of the men she would meet on the yacht were her colleagues who were in their early 20s. From what I could tell, marriage and a picket fences were not at the forefront of their minds.  Plus, as expected, the Captain discouraged management staff fratenising with crew.

The other eligible men were guests who either came on the yacht with their partners, or guests looking for a quick fling whilst on holiday generally staying on the yacht just a few days.  Hannah is encountering roadblocks already: this transient industry she had chosen to work in was not the easiest place to achieve her goal. Living on a superyacht in the Meditarianean sea, sharing a bunk bed with another female member of staff, is about as opposed to living in a suburban house with a picket fence as I imagine you can get.

The first thing I’d like to say is there is nothing wrong with her goal or how Hannah was living her life. However, Hannah’s ambitions did not match the actions she was taking in her life. Therefore, the chances of her succeeding in achieving these ambitions were low. She just couldn’t see that she had an uphill battle to get what she ultimately wanted. If she was to get what she wanted, she’d need to stop the yachting life.

What have I been doing to stop me getting what I want?

Before you accuse me of having a go at poor Hannah, I will now turn the magnifying glass on myself. I can think of countless times in my own life where my actions were not in my own best interests or aligned with my goals. For example, becoming wealthy has always been a goal of mine. However, I used to have a bunch of debt and a fancy car. I’d eat out three to four times a week. I’d blow a considerable amount of money on boozing.

Another goal I had was to stop working at a company that expected me to move location every 2-3 years. I worked at that international construction company for about 11 years and moving around became draining. But I stayed with the company, despite wanting to settle down, because it was an excellent place to work.

It’s so common to see people doing things that are working against their interests. So, what can you do to turn your life around?

What can you do (or stop doing) to get what you want?

If you feel like your goals are becoming unachievable, you can take action to move in the right direction. There are two things people do when they feel like things aren’t going their way.  

A common thing for people to do is to blame other people and their circumstances for why they are where they are and why they got there. Let me tell you that this approach is not going to help.

For example, our friend Hannah was blaming everyone else on the show for her problems. She started having a go at her lover, who was seven years younger than her, for not being able to provide what she wanted. That’s not his fault- he simply did not share her picket fence goal. Hannah’s frustration at being in the situation started causing her work and relationships to suffer as she neglected her responsibilities.


The second and better way to get what you want is to take some time to reflect on what you are doing. Think about the goals you have, and make a plan with clear steps to get there. Now be honest with yourself. Does doing this job get me closer to my goal? Will living in this city actually help me get what I want in life?

If the answer is no, then you need to start thinking about changing something to get what you want.

For me, it was a few things. I started by asking myself some hard questions.

  • My goal was to become wealthy. Was having an immense amount of consumer debt helping my life in any way? The answer was, of course, no. I needed to take action. I thought of a plan (which is detailed here), and I sacrificed a few months by foregoing all the things I was spending money on to pay off the debt. I sold my car. I increased my savings rate from 10% to 50%. I started investing in index funds. The process took time and patience, but I am now £120,000 better off than 12 months ago.
  • My goal was to set up shop and settle down. Was my job what I really wanted to do, and where would it foreseeably lead? For me, the answer was no. It was an easy question to answer. You can answer this by looking at the senior people in your company. If their life is not for you, you should probably make a change as the chances are you will end up the same. I didn’t want to end up on my third wife with estranged children and find myself living in a construction camp in the middle of the desert.  
  • Is the person I am with good for me? I had to look at whom I was dating and make a change to my approach to find someone that was a good match for me. I took some time out of dating, and when I returned to it, I found my now fiancé. My being with her is responsible for a massive part of my success.

The happy news is that it appears Hannah has managed to change her life to get what she wanted. Her Instagram account shows she’s settled down and had a baby, and in a loving relationship. Thanks to the show, she has 680k followers and is probably making some good money. I’m happy for her.  

In conclusion, often for you to get what you want is as much the result of stopping doing things that don’t help you achieve what you want as it is doing things that will get what you want. You have to do both. So what do you think? Be honest. I’d like to know about when you decided to stop doing something that were stopping you getting to your goals.  Comment below!

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