How to get what you want: The Ask, Seek, and Knock Approach

Ask and it will be given to you; Seek, and you will find; Knock, and the door will be opened to you. – Book of Matthew

How do you go about getting what you want in life and work?

Do have a plan of attack?

Or do you simply hope in a vague way that you’ll get what you want?

If you are going to actually get what you want, you’ll need to be deliberate in your approach.

And if you take a deliberate approach, you really can learn to get what you want.

Over the past few years, I’ve gotten much better at getting what I want.

  • I’ve gotten to be an Executive at some really cool companies
  • I’ve gotten to start my own business focused on work that I love
  • I’ve gotten to marry a woman that I love

I’ve found that getting what you want takes practice, and it takes a process. (It also helps to know what you want in the first place.)

Therefore, I’m going to introduce you to a process that has stood the test of time (and worked for me). You can practice using this process in your own life.

It’s called The Ask, Seek, and Knock Approach to getting what you want.

The Ask, Seek, and Knock Approach

This approach requires that you do three things:

  • Ask
  • Seek
  • Knock

Before we examine each individual component, let’s make a few observations of the process as a whole.

1. It’s an active process. Ask, seek, and knock are all action verbs. Getting what you want will require action on your part.

2. It’s a persistent process. It’s not enough to just ask or just seek or just knock. You’ll need to engage in all three activities – and more than once. Persistence is required.

3. It’s a creative process. Notice one approach is verbal, another is visual, and the third is physical. You’ll have to use a number of different modalities and be creative in your approach.

There’s no silver bullet tactic. Just a process that works.

People who get what they want are active, persistent, and creative.
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If you know what you want, it does you no use to keep it to yourself. Instead, verbally express what you want by asking for help.

Let’s say that what you want is a more fulfilling way to make a living. Here are two ways to ask for what you want.

  • Ask God for help. If you’re the praying type, pray for more fulfilling work. If you’re not the praying type, ask the universe for it, or even just tell the wall.

    Whatever your faith perspective, simply voicing your desire for something (like more fulfilling work) is a powerful act. In a sense, you are admitting to yourself and to the world that you do indeed have this desire.

    That takes courage.

    Once your desire is public, you’re opening yourself up to failure or even criticism. You’re also, though, opening yourself up to the possibility of getting what you want.

  • Ask a friend for help. Let a friend know that you’re looking for more fulfilling work. Ask your friend to hold you accountable to taking actions that will get you closer to work that you love.

    External accountability and encouragement is a must if you’re going to persist and get what you want. Success is a team game.


Next, spend time looking for what you want.

Here are three things that you can do:

1. Look for examples. Read books, blogs, and other materials to find examples of others who are doing work that they love. Study their approach and their methods.

2. Look for mentors. Look for someone who is already doing work that they love and connect with her (or him) in person.

The fastest way to get what you want is to hang out with people who already have what you want. Hang out with them and learn from them.

3. Look for opportunities. Keep an eye out for opportunities to do work that you are more passionate about. Maybe it’s a new job opening or maybe it’s a training course that will offer you a new skill set.

Either way look to discover opportunities that will allow you to take concrete steps toward getting what you want.


Finally, take assertive action. When you hear a knock on the door, it’s always a little jarring – even if you are expecting someone.

To get what you want, you have to push yourself out of your comfort zone, AND you have to tastefully push others as well. – Click to Tweet

Here are some ways to push yourself (and others) if you’re pursuing more meaningful work:

  • Ask for a promotion (and a raise) to explore new opportunities at your current company.
  • Ask for an opportunity to interview at a company that is interesting.
  • Ask for an internship with a mentor or someone who is doing work that you are interested in.

What you really want

Clearly, I am a huge fan of being honest with what you want in your life and then pursuing those things.

That said, keep this in the back of your mind as you pursue your desires:

What we really want are not specific things, per se. What we really want are the feelings and experiences that those things represent.

For instance, readers of this site tend to be ultimately concerned about three things:

  • The freedom that comes with building wealth.
  • The passion that comes with doing work that you love.
  • The joy that comes from generously serving others.

So get out there and get what you want. Just remember that it’s a means to an end.

Take your first step: Leave a comment that states one desire that you would like to become a reality in your life.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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12 thoughts on “How to get what you want: The Ask, Seek, and Knock Approach

  1. My main desires was to obtain peace of mind in this world. I always felt that once I had it I would be in the position to concentrate on building wealth and taking care of my health. Unfortunately, I sat back for years expecting it to just come to me. Reading your article hit home for because now I am seeking what it is that I want. I have asked numerous times without success and by seeking I have discovered that I wasn’t asking for it in the right way. As I learn how to pray and build a better relationship with God, I can now feel that I already have what I have been longing for…..peace within myself. I really enjoy your articles Ryan!

  2. Hey Ryan,

    Really great post. I met you at the Jimmy Maks pre-party for WDS2012. Thanks for the great conversation and I hope the weekend was everything you wanted it to be.

    One desire that I would like to make a reality is obtaining sufficiency through self-employment. As a full time employee, I feel like I spend a lot of time (maybe too much) on the Seek and not enough on the Ask and Knock. Your post helps remind me that the process of setting and ultimately reaching an important goal is an active, continuous cycle. Although the Ask and Knock may be uncomfortable in certain situations (for me at least), they are just as vital as the Seek in improving the odds of success in realizing a true desire. Thanks for helping me keep that in mind and keep up the great work.

    • Michael, great meeting you at WDS and good to see you here! Interesting point about getting caught in the “seek”. I tend to be an information junkie, so I can relate.

      Oh yeah, excited to hear more as you begin asking and knocking to get your own side hustle going.

  3. My main desire is to have financial stability and a committed partner! Great post Ryan-I sent it to a lot of my friends and they got a ton out of it :-)

  4. Ryan, the biggest desire I have had (and I mean OVERWHELMING!) over the last 3+ years has been to give all of my life over to working for God. I am somewhat at a financial position where I can actually do that, but I’m stuck on what, exactly, God’s real purpose for me is, and thus what kind of work (or ministry) I should seek out and go for.

    This article of yours really hit home for me. It has only been in the last couple of days that I have begun getting any clarity on what I need to do at all, but some light is beginning to get through, and it’s very exciting! I am looking forward to starting a blog of my own – a devotional type blog. Additionally just a few days ago I was offered a volunteer position as a prayer responder with a well know website, praying for the needs of others, as they have submitted them.

    I actually feel passion for both these ideas, and I look forward toward pursuing them both within the next few days and weeks. Thanks again for the great article!