The Answer to This One Question Can Predict Your Outcome

Jennifer Sneeden
3 min readJun 7, 2021
Photo by engin akyurt on Unsplash

One of the first questions I ask new clients is, “What is it that you want?” I want to make sure we are both clear about where it is that they want to go. Knowing the desired goal or outcome gives me direction in my coaching, and it gives my clients a clear target to shoot for.

However, what I’ve noticed is that many people have great difficulty answering that question. At first, I found this quite surprising. I seems like a fairly easy question on the surface. Turns out not only is this question anything but easy, it is also a huge predictor of success.

When I ask this question, what typically follows is a long list of all the things my client doesn’t want, along with the story of why they are stuck where they are.

I might ask, “What is it that you want?” And I’ll hear something like this: “Well, I’m really struggling right now. I don’t have enough clients, and I’m having trouble making ends meet. My business is so much harder than I thought it was going to be. I have two kids at home, and I really struggle to find time to grow my business and focus on my marketing.”

Sometimes, if this is a story that the client has been telling for a long time, I’ll get the extended version of it: “We never had much money growing up, and I was taught that rich people are greedy. I’m worried that if I start to make a lot of money, I’ll become greedy as well.”

I get it.

It’s easy to invest a lot of energy in the story of what’s gone wrong. It’s easy to try to make sense of our struggles by putting them in the context of our life story.

But, as they in Maine, “you just can’t get there from here”. When all of your energy is built around the problem and all the reasons you have the problem, you are actually making the problem bigger and bigger. You’ve set yourself on a path that is making it difficult to reach your goal.

When you’re in Maine, as the saying implies, you’ve often got to backtrack to take a different road to your destination. It’s the same thing with your goals. If you’ve been on the road of your problems and difficulties, you’ve got to backtrack to get on the right road.

That’s the road of clearly focusing on where you want to be. This clarity is essential to your success.

Our subconscious minds are goal-seeking mechanisms. Every time you say, “it’s hard for me to find clients” your subconscious mind takes that as a command: “It’s hard for you to find clients. Got it. I can make it hard for you to find clients.”

Or the ever popular: “I never have enough money.” Your subconscious takes this as a command that it then seeks to fill.

When you tell yourselves these things over and over again, you give them even more power. Eventually, they become the dominant story, and you are stuck in the vicious cycle of getting the same results over and over again.

The first step to get different results is to start to give your subconscious a different set of commands. How do you do this? By making the conversation about what you DO want instead of what you don’t want.

I know at first that can sound overly simplistic. However, try it for 24 hours. Heck, try it for even an hour. Just talk about what you do want. Not the problems. Not how difficult its been. Not your justifications for wanting what you want.

This can be a difficult switch. I remember when I first challenged myself not to complain for 30 days, I had difficulty making conversation with my friends and family. I was shocked by how much of my conversation was actually built around negatives.

Depending on the amount of momentum you have around the old story, it can take a consistent effort to focus what you want rather than what you don’t want. This is always where I start with my clients because I know I can’t help them become unapologetic about their success if they don’t have a clear goal they are moving toward.



Jennifer Sneeden

Therapist and coach sharing thoughts on life, spirituality, and growth.