What are you doing to get what you want?

Jim Graham - Contributing columnist

Last week, in applying Robert Wubbolding’s Reality Therapy counseling model to ourselves, to help us make good decisions in various life situations, we began by asking, “What do I want?”

Stop and think – what do you really want? That model, grounded in William Glasser’s Choice Theory, uses the acronym, WDEP: 1) What do you WANT? 2) What are you DOING to get what you want? 3) What’s your EVALUATION of that?, and 4) What’s your PLAN?

Today, we ask, “What am I doing?” Some people just want stuff, or want things to go well in their lives, but are doing little or nothing to get it. They just wait, sometimes patiently, sometimes not, for something to happen.

The old adage, “God helps those who help themselves,” (though not from the Bible, by the way), may ring true here. That’s not to say that God doesn’t help the helpless or even the quite capable – the trick there is to recognize, name, and thank God for what has happened.

That is still doing something!

What are you doing to get what you want? Vocationally – are you searching, applying, networking, or are you just waiting or settling?

The jobs I alluded to last week, which were fresh and exciting, (even with a pay cut), allowing me to use newly developed skills and knowledge, didn’t all just fall into my lap. I turned down an interview for one – we had a senior in high school, and they were moving too fast. But the ad appeared again a year later. I applied, was interviewed, and was hired!

Another was a job I had previously applied for and didn’t get. It, too, came by again, at a time when I thought the position I currently held was about to be eliminated. I re-applied and got it!

In both cases, I had to do something, even at the risk of being rejected, to get what I wanted. And there was a third position that I was not looking for but which I was asked to consider – a done deal if I said, “Yes.”

What I had to do in that case was to clear it with aging parents who had just moved to be nearby us. A difficult decision, but one which worked out well for all of us.

Thank you, God! So, what are you doing to get what you want?

In terms of relationships, the story I told last week of an estranged friendship, which occurred when I learned a friend thought I wanted nothing to do with him because of personally offensive email attachments I had asked him to stop forwarding to me.

I decided I had to do something. I wanted to restore the relationship between our two families, so I wrote to him saying what we were doing was silly, “after all these years….”

Then on an RV trip to their area, I suggested the four of us meet for breakfast. We broke bread together, the broken relationship was restored, and still is. Thank you, God, for reconciliations! I got what I wanted.

But a word of warning: the doing question is one you ask of yourself. “What do I need to do or change?” (not “what do they need to do or change?”), to enhance or heal relationships, to get what you want.

Of course, doing a particular thing doesn’t always work. Even sometimes when we do what we consider the right thing, the results are not what we were aiming for.

If we still want the same thing, then we must choose to do something else to fulfill our want. After numerous tries, we can at least take satisfaction in having done as much as we were willing to do to satisfy that particular want.

That may be spilling into next week’s topic when we will look at evaluating our wants and actions.

Suffice it to say, it sure beats one of my favorite words of wisdom, attributed to Albert Einstein: A definition of insanity – “Doing the same thing over and over again, expecting different results!”

What do you want? What are you doing to get what you want? Next week we’ll ask, “Is it working?”

Jim Graham is a retired Presbyterian minister.

This weekly column is provided to the News Journal on a monthly rotation basis by members of the Wilmington Area Ministerial Association.


Jim Graham

Contributing columnist