You Can’t Always Get What You Want

Monday Author:  Susanne Skinner

“…But if you try sometimes, well you just might find,  you get what you need” ~ The Rolling Stones, 1969

The Rolling Stones got it right. These lyrics are nearly fifty years old but they still ring true. Life is not always fair. The world won’t always work in your favor. I’ve faced this reality more than once.

You Can't Always Get What You Want, Susanne Skinner, Rolling StonesLoss or rejection is painful, especially when you realize no matter how badly you want something, you just aren’t going to get it. When you don’t get what you want, you want it even more.

You can’t always get what you want. It’s a life lesson. We don’t like to be told we can’t have something because it means we’re being controlled by circumstances outside our force field. It generates negative energy in and around us.

It Wasn’t Meant for You

This means absolutely nothing in the moment. It goes in one ear and out the other. Our reaction is to find the do-over button and see if we can alter the ending. We take it personally; we blame others and declare ourselves victims. We have suffered enough and it’s time for a happy ending.

When we realize we are not getting the thing we want, we devote more of our attention to it. I can’t eat salt. I walk past bags of potato chips in my office kitchen every single day. I want them; knowing they are bad for me becomes irrelevant. I take an apple, then sit at my desk and think about eating chips.

The same is true when something is less available. Its value increases when there is less of it and more demand for it. Think eBay. The price escalates as more people bid – and if you want it badly enough you will pay far more than its worth.

Therein lies the life lesson. But we are human; fallible and determined to create the outcome we want without thinking of cost.  We learn the lesson in hindsight. We acknowledge it when we find acceptance and allow ourselves to move on.

The Answer is No

Put another way, if that door you’re banging on is closed, whatever is behind it is not part of your journey. No doesn’t always mean rejection. Sometimes it’s redirection, a challenge to broaden our thinking and step out of our comfort zone.

The Answer is NoChildren are told No out of concern for their safety or maturity level. I’ve found this to be true no matter what age we are. Some things are simply not good for us – if only we have the wisdom to see it.

Six years ago I lost my job—then my husband lost his job. Two unemployed people in their fifties looking for jobs is a major stressor. One of us had to find a job to carry the household expenses and obtain health benefits.

I interviewed for a position that was a perfect fit, until I met the group manager. Within minutes I knew I could do her job better than she could. She knew it too and I left knowing with absolute certainty I would not be hired.

There is was; right in front of me yet completely out of my reach. I got up each day hoping the phone would ring. I wanted something I wasn’t going to get, no matter how hard I wished for it.

In hindsight, this job was not a perfect fit. In my desperation to become employed, I focused on any job instead of the right job in the right company. My emotions caused me to lose perspective and ignore my career goals.

In time, the right job came along and it was the perfect fit. When the Universe says No, there is a reason behind it.

Wisdom Comes with Age

But sometimes age comes alone. Some people never learn, but those of us who have been around long enough are generally wiser. Today, the Internet of Things  puts information at our fingertips but there is a difference between knowledge and wisdom.  Age does not guarantee wisdom.

What it does is provide greater perspective, more data points, and impulse control. As we age we gain the benefit of balancing our flaws and strengths. Experience is a good teacher. The older and wiser you will also develop compassion and patience, crucial for balance, acceptance and decision making.

Want What You Have

Never Let the Things You Want Make You Forget the Things You HaveIn my worst moments, I forgot this. I lost sight of what was good and consistent and focused on the absent job. It’s a lot harder to be positive when crisis kicks down your door, but that is exactly what you must do. Find your center and focus on things you can control, like your attitude and reaction. You can’t change the past or control another person’s behavior.

The unemployment experience taught me I was much more than a job. My husband and I woke up each morning with a multitude of blessings:

  • We had each other
  • We were in good health
  • We raised five amazing kids into amazing adults
  • We had a strong support network
  • We had options

What we did not have were jobs—temporary (because all jobs are temporary), replaceable, jobs. Serious—yes.  Life altering—yes.  Life-ending—no. We learned to find the good in each day by not allowing a job to define us.

Acceptance Builds Resilience

Of course, we wanted stabilized finances and solid footing under our career futures.  But at the same time, we wanted a balanced life with time for the things we enjoyed.  When I accepted my job loss I also made peace with it. Joy comes from our ability to accept, appreciate and celebrate what we already have in our lives.

potato chipsWhen I began to appreciate what I had, I was able to loosen the grip on wanting what I could not have. Except for the chips. I will always want the chips.

This entry was posted in Business, Susanne Skinner and tagged , , , by Aline Kaplan. Bookmark the permalink.

About Aline Kaplan

Aline Kaplan is a published author, a blogger, and a tour guide in Boston. She formerly had a career as a high-tech marketing and communications director. Aline writes and edits The Next Phase Blog, a social commentary blog that appears multiple times a week at She has published over 1,000 posts on a variety of subjects, from Boston history to science fiction movies, astronomical events to art museums. Under the name Aline Boucher Kaplan, she has had two science fiction novels (Khyren and World Spirits) published by Baen Books. Her short stories have appeared in anthologies published in the United States, Ireland, and Australia. Aline’s articles have also appeared on the Atlas Obscura website. She has been an active member of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America since 1988 and is a long-term member of the Spacecrafts science/fantasy writers’ group. As a tour guide, Aline leads architectural and historical walking tours of the city for Boston By Foot, ghost tours for Haunted Boston and historical bus tours of the city. She lectures on Boston history and has appeared in the Boston Globe, as well as on TV for Chronicle, an award-winning television program that broadcasts stories of New England. As a lecturer, Aline has spoken at Brandeis and Tufts universities for the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute. She has also addressed as service organizations and local meetings. She is a graduate of Northeastern University in Boston and lives in Hudson, MA.

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