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Excerpted from I Could Do Anything If I Only Knew What It Was by Barbara Sher with Barbara Smith. Copyright © 1995 by Barbara Sher with Barbara Smith. Excerpted by permission of Dell Trade Paper, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.  HTML and web pages copyright © by SpiritSite.com.

"Until then, just remember, whatever you were doing until you picked up this book, you were not being lazy or stupid or cowardly."

Barbara Sher, I Could Do Anything If I Only Knew What It Was, Part 4

When there's no emergency to rise to, we have to create goals that have meaning. You can create such goals if you know what your dream is -- but this is a relatively new way of living. The old way to live was to let necessity create your goal; the new way is to use your dream to create your goal. We have had very little practice at this new way.

The second reason you don't know what you want is that something inside you is stopping you from knowing. Your dreams are obscured by some kind of internal conflict. It's not as easy as you might think to spot inner conflicts. Often they're disguised as self-reproach. "Maybe I have no talent," "Maybe I'm just lazy," "If I were smarter I'd have done more with my life."

If there's one thing I want you to get out of reading this book it's to know that not one of those statements is true.

The first goal of this book is to shine a spotlight on your particular inner conflict so you can see it clearly outlined. As soon as you see what's been in your way, you'll know exactly why you haven't created the life you wanted. You'll quit reproaching yourself. You'll understand that you've been unable to get moving for a reason.

Our culture is full of simpleminded myths of blame, such as "If you really wanted something badly enough, you'd go out and get it," and "If you're sabotaging yourself, you lack character." Nobody ever asks the obvious question: "Why would anybody want to do himself harm by sabotaging himself?" It takes curiosity to find the answer to that question, and judgmental people always lack curiosity.

In the following chapters we're going to stop all this blaming and swap it for honest, nonjudgmental curiosity. I have the deepest respect for sincere curiosity -- and very little respect for self-righteousness. The useful answers, the answers that help us solve problems, are always the more forgiving ones. They're based on a line of inquiry that assumes there is always a good reason for everything. There is certainly a good reason you lost direction, and this book is going to help you find it.

Until then, just remember, whatever you were doing until you picked up this book, you were not being lazy or stupid or cowardly. Even self-improvement programs, no matter how helpful, are often judgmental. They are often based on the assumption that you don't have what you want because you haven't developed the right way of thinking. They assume you've got to get fixed before you can get what you want.

Well, forget that.

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