“And, when you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.”

The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho

I recently finished a re-reading of Paulo Coelho’s The Alchemist. I saw there was a graphic novel version at Costco and couldn’t resist. It gratefully reminded me of the above quote. When I think about the quote and the different scenarios and phases of my life, I have found it to be true. But I know when I first read The Alchemist, I thought it was true too, but how?

How can you get the universe to conspire with you to help you achieve your goals and desires? What specific things do you need to do? I want to share the exact steps I have taken to help me achieve my goals and desires so that you too can get the universe to conspire with you to achieve whatever you want.

Define what you want

If you don’t know what you want, the universe cannot conspire to give it to you. How can it? Like a child throwing a tantrum or crying, parents do not know what to do unless the child tells them what they want. Does their child want a cookie? Do they want to play with a toy that’s on a high shelf? Do they want to eat a snack?

Ask yourself the following questions:

  • What do I want? What do I want to achieve? Who do I have to become to achieve the goals I have set for myself? Although you can argue that the goal itself is not important, it’s who you become in the process of achieving the goal that is more important, you still have to have a clear vision of what you want.
  • What am I willing to give up to achieve this? Any worthy goal requires sacrifice of your time, energy or money.
  • How will I feel once I have achieved this goal? When your motivation wanes and you don’t feel like putting in the work, it helps to remember why you want to achieve the goal. Knowing the ‘why’ and making it as real as possible will help fuel your goals.

Learn everything you can about what you want

James Altucher says that to become an expert (or rather, to find something you are passionate about), go to the bookstore, look for your topic, and read 500 books about that subject. Guaranteed that if you read 500 books about a topic (project management, leadership, creativity, negotiation, etc.), you will pave your way to becoming the top 1% in that field.

That’s the next step in The Conspire Strategy: learn everything you can about what you want. If you want to become good with money, read all the financial books, follow all the financial newsletters, and take all the finance courses you can. Tony Robbins did the same thing when he started: he devoured everything he could about human psychology, goal setting, NLP, and motivation, and he cites a course from Jim Rohn as the course that helped him set his path.

Can you just tell people you want to be a best-selling author knowing nothing about books, publishing, best-seller lists, editing, etc.? Maybe. But why make your path even harder than it is?

Take action

This step is the most important so I’ll repeat it. Take action. Nothing happens unless you take action. The book you want on the NY Times Best Seller list will not get there, especially if you don’t write the book. You will not become a billionaire by doing the same thing you have always been doing. Unless you take action, any action, you aren’t going anywhere and nothing is going to happen.

You might ask: what step should I take? Well, that’s where the first two steps come in. Do you know what you want? Great. Have you learned everything there is about what you want? Awesome. From there, identify the smallest action you can take today to get you from where you are, to what you want. If you are stuck, think of a small experiment to help you learn something. Scientists conduct experiments all the time to test their hypotheses.

Here’s an example: you have set your heart on becoming a top financial coach. You’ve just graduated from college and have student debt. You’re working a job but you are barely paying off the debt you have. Here are several experiments you can try:

  • Skipping one meal every day to save on food costs (does it save food costs? What is the impact to your health? Is this something anyone can do?)
  • Doing side gigs (how much time do you spend? What is the ROI? Is it worth it? How much money do you get?)
  • Investing your savings (Is investing worth it? How much can you earn? Are stocks better than index funds?)

The point of the experiment is to take action. If you are doing something risky (like investing), make small bets so that a failure does not ruin you.

Find a mentor

You know what you want. And you have learned (or are learning) everything you can about what you want. You are also taking action by conducting small experiments that help you learn what works and what doesn’t. One way to get what you want quicker is to find a mentor. Find someone who, ideally, is a few years ahead of you. They’re already a successful financial coach. Or they have written a best-selling book. Maybe they have started a company. Those individuals have already taken your path and made mistakes along the way. They can help you avoid those same mistakes, but also guide you along your path.

Pause. Reflect. Adjust.

While it’s important to take action, of equal importance is to take a moment regularly to consider what you have learned so far from your experiments, and what action to take next. You will waste time if you tried to create a dog-walking business, found that your neighbourhood had no pets, and then tried to sell dog food through a local store. It’s why the popular GTD system by David Allen talks about the importance of having a regular time for updating, maintaining, and managing your system. Sure, you can work away on a project. But is it the most important one? What new actions do you now need to take? Are you forgetting other higher-priority work?

What helps me is a regular journaling practice. Although I use my journal more broadly than for my work, every so often, I write my thoughts on what I’m doing at work, what I’m feeling, and why I’m feeling that way. If it’s not what I want to feel, I then write ideas on what I can do to get myself out of that state (whether it’s a feeling of overwhelm, stress, lack of influence, or productivity issues).