Book Review: I Could Do Anything If I Only Knew What It Was by Barbara Sher.

You want to live a life you love. A life that excites and fills you with a deep sense of purpose and contentment. Frustratingly though,  it remains out of reach.

Are you working hard but not making progress? Perhaps you find it hard to stay motivated. Have you spent most of your life doing what you should and not what you love? Do you want to make a lasting impact but you’re not sure how? If you’ve found yourself lamenting that you’d get committed and consistent if you only knew what you wanted, then this is the book for you.

The book in a nutshell

One of the biggest reasons we aren’t living the ‘good life’ as the author describes it is because we don’t know what we want. That lack of clarity is like a giant obstacle in our path, after all, if we don’t know what we want, how can we possibly know what steps to take. But it’s not just that.  Now, more than ever, we have a plethora of options available to us at any time. That can be overwhelming and makes it challenging to pick what has particular meaning to us.

In the book, author Barbara Sher cuts through the confusion. She shows us how to discover our deepest desires by identifying the barriers standing in our way. She explains that our dreams are obscured by some internal conflict and helps us identify what that conflict it in order to address it appropriately.

Once the conflict has been addressed, she provides a number of tools and techniques that can help us create the life we want.

You finally get a chance to make your dreams a reality.

Key takeaways

    • Self awareness is key to identifying the source of your inner conflict. Make a note of what that voice in your head says when you try to make progress or contemplate making a change in your life. It probably sounds like a two-sided disagreement going on inside your head. One voice argues in favour of getting what you want the other is trying to stop you.


  • There are a number of strategies you could adopt to counteract the voice, but that depends on what it’s saying.
  • If the voice says something like: “I’d have to quit my job to get what I really want and I can’t do that—I’d starve”, you’re probably reluctant or unwilling to take what you perceive as big risks. Deep down you want adventure but you learned to hold on to what you have and not go for more. However, when you play it too safe you take an even bigger risk of ending up as someone who regrets all the things she didn’t do.
  • There are two types of dreams, escape dreams and real dreams. Escape dreams are not real passions but momentary flights of fancy. They make you feel good in the moment and can sometimes give you a clue about what is missing in your life. Unfortunately, escape dreams can stop you making real change as you get trapped in a fantasy world. Real dreams, in contrast are deep and unique to you. Where escape dreams are easy to imagine, real dreams take effort and require soul-searching. They are the things that truly matter to you.

“You don’t have to give up a life of security to lead a life of adventure, you do have to take an emotional chance when you let yourself love something.”

  • If the voice says: “I’ve tried so many things and nothing does it for me,” then you’re probably suffering from a case of disabled desire. You’ll learn the power of setting a goal and disconnecting how you feel from how you behave. Your mind may be in a slump but you’ll learn to act in spite of it. Taking action can kick-start your energy and get you out of a rut.

“If you can stop acting on those feelings, you can start the process of finding what you want – even in a negative mood.”

  • If you’re thinking: “I don’t have any idea what to do now,” it probably means you’ve just gone through a big life change. Maybe you’ve been laid off or your kids have left home. Those changes can be unsettling and associated with a feeling of negativity. You may even wonder: ‘What now?’. You’ll learn that tapping into those feelings is okay. Feelings are temporary and expressing them will lighten the load. It’s okay to grieve what’s gone, but only for a while. The time will come to turn and face a new challenge, the unknown. You’ll feel the uncertainty of being a beginner but that’s okay. You’ve been a beginner before and proved time and again that you can handle it. Don’t waste time thinking it’s too late to go for your dreams.

“You can learn new things at any time in your life if you’re willing to be a beginner.”

  • Whatever your inner conflict, your dreams and desires have been buried waiting to be rediscovered. By taking action, you will have a chance to break through those blocks and create a life that you love waking up to.

Who this book is for

This book is for anyone who is struggling to find clarity, cultivate passion and create a sense of purpose in their lives. Maybe you’re working hard but your dream life remains elusive. Perhaps you feel stuck unable to move forward. Addressing your inner conflict is a first step to building positive momentum in your life. The extensive list of tools and strategies outlined in each chapter will not only help you liberate yourself from what’s holding you back but also show you how to create a vibrant and rewarding future.

Final thoughts

This book is equal parts illuminating and challenging. Working through the emotional baggage that holds us back isn’t easy. The reward, however, is a renewed sense of clarity and a roadmap for moving forward. It won’t be easy but who said a great life would be. Wouldn’t it be great to wake up each day to a life full of purpose? A life where you knew exactly what you wanted and how to make it happen.  Perhaps this book can show you how.

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