Do you dare to ask for what you want in life?

If we’re honest, a lot of us would answer, Not often.

This is totally understandable. After all, asking for what you want brings up all kinds of insecurities and fears. It feels so freaking risky, like middle school dances all over again.

ask for what you want

We think …

Who am I to want this? It’s too big for me.
No one has time. They’re too busy. They’ll never say yes.
What if they think I’m crazy? (What if I AM crazy?)
I’m not good enough. I don’t deserve it. I have to be realistic.
I have to wait until I am 100% ready.

The excuses sound good in our heads, but deep down we know better. If we don’t ask, we‘ll never know what far-off dreams might be within reach.

Ask for What You Want

As I wrote back in 2014,

“Since I shared the story of how I applied to speak at TEDxBirminghamSalon, several people have confided, ‘I didn’t know that you could apply for TEDx talks. I thought you had to be asked.’

And if that’s not a metaphor for life, I don’t know what is.

So many of us are waiting to be asked, assuming that we’re not invited: to a friendship, a job, a TEDx slot.

Most of the time, we don’t question – much less test – our assumptions.

I include myself in this, of course. I wouldn’t have pursued speaking at TEDx had a friend’s Facebook post not shattered my preconceptions about what was and wasn’t possible.”

Ever since then, I’ve been making an effort to put myself out there and ask. I send the pitch, make the call, take the shot.

It’s still scary, though.

Do you know where I got that list of fears at the top of this post? From inside my own head.

When I decided to choose joy and start up the “You Need to Read” video interview series, I was super-excited. Then I realized: Dang, now I need to ask people to be in the series. Eeek.

Fortunately, the one rule I made for myself was that I would only invite writers that I’d be jump-up-and-down thrilled to interview. That helped me to labor over each email, take some shaky breaths, and press Send over and over.

And do you know what happened? Most of the writers I asked said yes … even the long shots, the ones I thought I had no business even emailing.

That’s the beauty of asking for what you want: sometimes, the universe gives us way more than expected.

As of this writing, eight fantastic writers have agreed to join us for “You Need to Read”. (There are two more slots open in the series, so I’ll keep asking!)

For the next six months at least, I’ll be doing 1-2 video interviews per month and posting them here. You’ll get to know some great writers, I’ll get to be a geeked-out fangirl, and the writers will get to share their work with you. Everybody wins.

If you’re anything like me, books and stories mean the world to you. So our “You Need to Read” series motto is this quote from Phillip Pullman:

“We don’t need a list of rights and wrongs, tables of dos and don’ts: we need books, time, and silence. Thou shalt not is soon forgotten, but Once upon a time lasts forever.”

Here are the writers who will be joining us!

You Need to Read

(Writers listed in order pictured, starting from the top left and moving right)

This year, we’ll be welcoming …

  • Jill Winksi, a Martha Beck Certified life coach and blogger offering support for the vulnerability that comes with creativity at The Artist’s Nest. Jill helps sensitive people who are feeling stuck, vulnerable, or overwhelmed take better care of themselves so they can move forward with their creative work and put their amazing gifts out into the world.
  • Rachel Macy Stafford, the New York Times bestselling author of Hands Free Mama, Hands Free Life, and the forthcoming Only Love Today. A certified special education teacher, she blogs at She writes about letting go to grasp what really matters.
  • Laura Parrott-Perry, blogger at, speaker, artist, special education teacher, and the co-founder of the nonprofit Say It, Survivor. Say It, Survivor is committed to raising awareness about child sexual abuse, educating parents, and bringing survivors into community to reclaim their stories as part of the path to healing.
  • Addie Zierman, the author of two rave-reviewed memoirs about letting go of religious baggage and walking her own faith journey, When We Were on Fire and Night Driving. Addie is also a speaker and a blogger who writes about faith reimagined at
  • Laura Vanderkam, the author of several books on time management and productivity including I Know How She Does It. Laura is also a speaker, most recently at TED Women. She questions the status quo and helps her readers rediscover their true passions and beliefs in pursuit of more meaningful lives at
  • Anna Kunnecke, a Martha Beck Certified Master life coach, speaker, and blogger at Anna is a self-proclaimed ex-Christian and a heathen mystic and she helps women to declare dominion over their gorgeous lives. She’s also at work on a memoir I can’t wait to read.
  • Adam Grant, the #1 New York Times Bestselling author of Give and Take and Originals. He’s a two-time TED speaker, and the person whose work I cited in my TEDxBirminghamSalon All Stars talk. He’s also Wharton’s top-rated professor and a leading expert on how we can find motivation and meaning, and live more generous and creative lives. Find him at
  • Julie Barton, the New York Times bestselling author of Dog Medicine, a memoir about how a dog named Bunker helped her to heal from severe depression. She blogs at Fun fact: Dog Medicine was originally published by ThinkPiece Publishing (the same folks who published my Kindle Single I Was a Stranger to Beauty in 2013) before it was acquired by Penguin Books.

That’s our list of interviewees so far. Can you believe it?!?

That’s the magic of asking.


Do you ask for what you want? Join the conversation in the comments below!

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