If you look back at your life, tell me how many times have you wanted something badly and screwed it all up? You blame yourself; you regret your actions; you wish you could go back in time and do it differently; you torture yourself with the fact that you might never have the same opportunity again. It forces you to doubt yourself, to admit defeat, to ask, “Why not me?”, believing you’re never good enough for it.

That feeling sucks, especially when no matter how much you try to lie to yourself, deep down you know you still want it. The worst part is that you don’t even know how to make it right. You’re afraid that you will mess up all the good things in your life while wondering on-end how other people could have it all together.

I have been there before. I have been that girl who made mistakes after mistakes, got myself humiliated, ashamed, heartbroken, and subsequently ruined my chances at happiness. It happened so often that I even convinced myself I did not really want what I wanted, or perhaps I was meant to look for something else.

However, over time as I learned from my experiences and started to do differently to attain my goals, I realized that it wasn’t about the things that I wanted, it was essentially about me. It is about my mindset, how I see and treat myself and the way I go about my life. It was eye-opening to me that by changing my thinking and approach, I could actually turn everything around, be well-prepared and in control.

Here’s how I did it:

1. Know exactly what you want

This is straightforward and simple: without knowing exactly what you want, you would never be able to get it. Being sure of your goals enables you to be rational and strategic as well as motivated to take actual steps and not rushing for the results.

Though, it’s not as easy as it may sound. Knowing what you want requires you to understand yourself and be in touch with your reality. It asks of you a great deal of self-awareness and maturity to decide what’s ultimately worth achieving.

Do you want to purchase a new car or do you actually want a self-sufficient lifestyle? Do you want a relationship or do you actually want love? Do you want a temporary fix or do you actually want happiness?

While the former is more specific and easier to achieve, the latter is more sustainable and would eventually lead to attainment of the former. More often than not, confusion between these two is what causes restlessness and dissatisfaction even after you have got what you think you want, which brings you back to square one.

That being said, there is no “correct” or “incorrect” goal as long as you’re sure about it. At the end of the day, no one lives your life for you. You’re the captain, you know yourself best, and thus, you make the call.

2. Realize you don’t need it

When you want something so much, it’s easy to get carried away and even desperate. By being carried away and desperate, you risk having your rationale and judgement clouded and thus, behaving in a way that sabotages your own chances at getting what you want.

As you think you need what you want, you are likely to fixate on the idea of having them and potentially attach your self-worth, self-esteem to it, yet your purpose is deviating further from the real reason why you would even want them in the first place. You’re constantly in a destructive state of anxiety and stress.

That’s why it’s important to realize you don’t need any of the things that you want unless they are the necessity for your survival. As for anything non-necessity, you might want them but you’re fine without them. Be it a possession, a person, a relationship, a body shape, and so on — none of it defines who you are or determines your self-worth. You’re always as whole as the individual you are. Plus, since everything in life is temporary, you might want to chill out and simply enjoy the ride.

Overall, wanting something without needing them will help you put things into perspective, focus on yourself, keep calm, be rational and relaxed about the outcome. You will be able to separate your core self from your surroundings and thus, find it easier to let go when you must. It means you’re purposeful but you’re not dependent. You might fail but your mind is strong enough to get on track any time regardless of which goal it is.

3. Leave your baggages out of the way

We all have a past where we made mistakes, did stupid things we are not proud of, or we were even someone completely different from who we are now. It’s the days when we kept trying in vain and failed from times to times due to lack of experiences, confidence or a right mindset. Either way, it gives us an impression that we are not capable, we are a failure, a loser, or we will never get better. Thus, we find it hard to not act like it’s true, for that past is all what we have known about ourselves.

But the past is the past. It’s not the present or future. Failing once doesn’t mean you will always fail. Having done wrong things doesn’t mean you are a bad, unworthy person. It might shape who you are but it’s not who you are. Who you are isn’t defined by your past but by what you do with your present. If anything, you should be glad that you have been there, done that because they are the reliable source of your wisdom today.

I know it can be hard to override your own negative narrative of yourself but it’s definitely possible as long as you trust yourself and have a start now to build up something new. The key is to keep a positive outlook and change your inner voice into a positive, encouraging one as your thoughts largely determine your well-being and actions. Simply put, If you want to be a winner, a go-getter, you must think and act like one.

4. Be patient and persistent 

The problem with most people nowadays is that they want to have everything right here right now, yet they don’t want the hard work. What they fail to realize is that rushing or giving up too soon is exactly how they miss out on or directly ruin all the things that could have been good. During the process, instead of keeping calm and waiting for the right moment, they let their anxiety and insecurity take over and subsequently, act impulsively and hastily, only to end up with regrets and a missed goal.

In relationships, for example, I used to be a big time impatient girl. I would give up very easily when I thought my feelings weren’t returned even though it was all new. Or I would quickly jump to a conclusion based on ambiguous signs I read off the internet and have all the important conversations in text because I couldn’t wait till I met the person to talk properly face to face.

In reality, those signs mostly turned out to be terribly generic and far from the truths. And more often than not, there wasn’t any real problem until I sent off some texts showing signs of insecurity, inconsideration and immaturity, or sometimes even desperation. Even if there was a problem, my way of hasty communication would never solve anything. It drove people away from me and ruined any relationship potential.

What I do differently today, not just regarding relationships with people but in all aspects of life, is that I patiently wait. I hold off judgements and wait for the future to unfold itself while trying my best where I could with careful consideration of my actions. This helps me process information thoroughly, stay collected and make better decisions. Also, I don’t force anything or anyone to be in its place. I let them go and trust that they would come back to me at their own time and pace. If not, it’s fine because I want them but I don’t need them.

More importantly, what I ultimately want is not an item, a person, or anything specific. It’s more of a lifestyle, a state of mind, which could  manifest itself in different ways as long as I adopt the right mindset and approach, as I have listed above. This allows me not only to work towards my goals but also to enjoy the everyday life with gratitude, humility and optimism.