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You’ve probably heard phrases like, “You don’t get what you don’t ask for” or “the squeaky wheel gets the grease.” There’s a reason those idioms are popular—they’re absolutely true!

It isn’t enough to secretly wish for something; the best way to get what you want is to take clear, direct action. Oftentimes, that means having the courage to call upon others for help or guidance. It means starting a dialogue and expressing your desires.

Why do we so often hesitate to ask for what we want?

This hesitation can stem from a fear of feeling vulnerable or unworthy, or the belief that successful people never ask for help. All of these fears work within us to maintain the status quo and prevent us from seeking the change we desire.

Don’t let your pride keep you from asking for what you want. This is a lesson I learned as a senior leader at 3M and one that I now apply to my current work as a career coach. It’s okay to lean on others and ask for help. You don’t have to do everything on your own!

Whether you’d like to ask for a raise, take on a new project, or revamp an outdated work system, have the courage to speak up. Seek out the areas where you desire change and begin asking the right people for help.

Harder than it sounds, right?

In order to overcome the hesitation you might feel to ask for what you want, I’ve put together these 9 guidelines:

  1. Be honest with yourself about your current dreams and needs—know what you want.
  2. Seek support from the experts and professionals around you who can best support your goals.
  3. Always believe that what you’re asking for is possible.
  4. Be genuine about your wants and honest with yourself about your strengths and weaknesses.
  5. Consider sending an email or making a phone call to introduce yourself to those who you think may be of service. Outline your needs, but don’t be pushy. Take the time to build a trusting relationship.
  6. Always be passionate about what you request.
  7. Never let fear prevent you from acting.
  8. Anticipate that not everyone will be able or willing to help, and always allow for a gracious opportunity for others to bow out.
  9. Be persistent—try, try, and try again until you achieve success.

Don’t let your inner saboteur get in the way of your own success—believe that you are deserving of what you want, and have the courage to ask for it.

MARGARET SMITH IS A CAREER COACH, AUTHOR, INSIGHTS®DISCOVERY LICENSED PRACTITIONER, FOUNDER OF UXL, AND CO-FOUNDER OF THE TAG TEAM. SHE HOSTS WORKSHOPS FOR PEOPLE WHO NEED CAREER OR PERSONAL GUIDANCE. YOU CAN VISIT HER WEBSITE AT WWW.YOUEXCELNOW.COM

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Do you feel like you’re worth more than you’re being paid? Are fellow employees getting paid more than you? Are other people in your field getting better pay at different companies?

These are all reasons to ask for a raise.

If you feel like you’ve earned it, you probably have. So, why not ask for it? According to Ramit Sethi, author and founder of I Will Teach You To Be Rich.com, “Just one $5,000 raise, properly invested, can be worth $1 million over your career.”

Sounds great, right? But you can’t just waltz into your boss’ office and demand an extra $5K a year. You have to develop a thoughtful, thorough plan. Here’s how:

Ask when the time is right.

Ideally, you’ll want to ask for a raise after you’ve done something outstanding (like earning a top sales spot, finding a new client, or successfully leading a team project). Don’t expect to get a raise for just showing up and doing the minimum-required work. Additionally, when you’re considering timing, don’t ask for a raise around the holidays, when bonuses are being doled out. And don’t ask for a raise in the middle of budget or staff cuts. Know the rhythm of your company and ask for a raise when things seem stable or exceptionally good. It’s helpful to make a specific plan such as: “Within the next three months, I will ask for a raise.” Or, “After I complete XYZ Project, I will ask for a raise.” That way, you’ll have a general time frame mapped out.

Put together a compelling list of reasons why you deserve a raise.

Take the time to evaluate the work you’ve done over the last year or two. What projects stand out? What are some specific instances where you’ve truly shined? When have you added to the profitability of your organization? Collect as many specific facts as you can (Of course, it helps if your boss already knows about your accomplishments, but that’s a subject for a different blog post). Practice talking about your accomplishments in the mirror or with a close friend or spouse. Why? You want to sound as natural as possible when you have this conversation and not like you’re rattling off a list.

Arm Yourself with Confidence.

Don’t be shy about asking for a raise. Believe that you’ve earned it and demonstrate, with confidence, the reasons why you should get it. On the flip side, don’t act cocky and expect everything to go your way. Just be authentic, sincere, and assertive in your request.

Have a specific dollar amount in mind.

Do your research. Know what other people in the company are making and know what other people in your industry are making. Don’t be outlandish in your request, but don’t sell yourself short either.

Talk about the future.

It’s a good idea to demonstrate that you are ready to continue to do great work for the company. As Carolyn O’Hara writes in an article for the Harvard Business Review, “Lay out your contributions, then quickly pivot to what you hope to tackle next. Assure your boss that you understand his or her pressures and goals, and pitch your raise as a way to help achieve those goals.”

And if your boss turns you down? That’s a possible outcome and you have to be prepared to accept it. But don’t get discouraged. The fact that you asked for a raise shows initiative, career-mindedness, and tenacity. It also demonstrates to your boss that you know what you’re worth and he or she will have to give you a raise at some point down the road or risk losing you. So, be fearless! You don’t get what you don’t ask for.

MARGARET SMITH IS A CAREER COACH, LICENSED INSIGHTS DISCOVERY PRACTITIONER, FOUNDER OF UXL, AND CO-FOUNDER OF THE TAG TEAM. YOU CAN VISIT HER WEBSITE AT WWW.YOUEXCELNOW.COM

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