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on 26 July 1999
Over the years, I've read many a book on goal-setting and achievement. I started many years ago with the obligatory 'Think and Grow Rich', avoided Anthony Robbin's 'Unlimited Power' because it looked 'too American', floundered around some more in the Positive Mental Attitude books, and came back to Anthony Robbins in desperation. I was seeking something practical and effective, to help me manage my life, as I was having problems due to giving up a well-paid job to study full-time. At that point, I was hooked on NLP. However, if I had read Wishcraft, I might have bypassed Anthony Robbins altogether, and would not be where I am today (such at it is :-) ) Why? Because this book provides everything I was looking for in a book at that time.
It is split into two broad sections: the first helps you to answer the question "What are my goals?"; the second, "How do I achieve them?". The first section contains a number of fairly standard exercises to help you brainstorm your goals. If you are new to the idea of goal-setting, this is a great place to start; however, if you have done many exercises in goal-setting, then most of these exercises will be familiar. However, I suspect that most people will find something of use here, no matter how well- read they are.
The second section is where the book comes into its own. The authors outline a number of tools and methods to help you be successful once you know what your goals are. Some of them are to do with planning, some to do with emotions and managing your state, some are to do with getting the help of others.
The planning model is the best I've come across, and I've done some formal training on planning in a corporate environment. It doesn't cover complex ideas like GANT charts, critical-path analysis, and so on, but it does provide a simple, workable, and effective method of setting out what you'll actually need to do to reach your goal. And it all boils down to two simple questions .....
Can I do this tomorrow? If not, what do I need to do first?
Keep going through those two questions, and you'll end up with a plan consisting of achievable steps that you can do in a day, rather than huge steps which take days or weeks to accomplish. One of the difficulties that many people experience with tasks of this size is due to lack of specificity; breaking the task down into smaller ones helps to make it more 'real' and hence easier to get started on and to acccomplish.
However, in any planning model, particularly where you are venturing out into uncharted territory, there will be some points in your plan where you simply do not know what steps are required - if you are familiar with the idea of unconscious incompetence, then you'll know what I mean. (If not, take a quick look at the article below). Again, using one simple idea, the authors can help you to overcome those problems, based on the idea that if you can't do something, then you know someone who can, or you know someone who knows someone who can, or you know someone who knows someone who...
They call the idea 'barnraising', from the idea in certain communities where each person helps the others build their barn, and then receive help from each person in building their own barn. They suggest getting all your friends, family, and colleagues together; tell them EXPLICITLY what you want; and see how they can help. At the same time, help them with their goals or plans. Whilst not a new idea, the authors go out of their way to tell you that you don't have to do everything by yourself, and then give you a framework in which to work with others to achieve your mutual goals. Anyone familiar with Stephen Covey's Seven Habits will immediately recognize the win/win situation.
Where this ties in nicely with NLP is the 'explicit' part: the meta-model is the ideal tool here for: A) defining what you need B) clarifying exactly what help others can provide C) helping others define what they need.
The authors also provide two questions that will help if you encounter a problem in the form of 'I can't do/have X until I have/do Y' The two questions are:
How can I get X without having/doing Y? How can I get/do Y?
Later, the book covers some basic time management skills, and some general strategies for dealing with fear, including one called 'Lower Your Standards - at First'. The latter goes against many positive thinking-type books by saying if your goals are too far beyond your current beliefs about what you can do, you will most likely be afraid. The way to reduce your fear is to aim to do things badly, then there is no problem if you do actually do them badly. Then, when you've got some experience under your belt, you will be in a position to set realistic, challenging, and achievable goals.
The comments I've written here sound fairly mundane - I'm not one to rant and rave over a book. One of the biggest complements that I can give a book is to say that I will never throw it away, and I will read it at least once per year without fail. I've had this book for about 4 years now, and I've read it 5-6 times, and I will never throw it away (at least, I might, but only to replace it with a less dog-eared copy). Its simplicity, elegance, and plain- talking, combined with sold, practical advice, make it one of my favourite books.
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on 8 August 1999
I can't thank Barbara Sher enough for this book. It is made for procrastinators like me who know we're made for greater things, but can't for the life of us figure out what. It is split into two parts. The first section puts you back in touch with your childhood genius (we were ALL geniuses) and helps you figure out what you love and what you want. The second section shows you exactly how to get it. It's simple, brilliant, and if I can do it, anyone can. I read this book two years ago (after putting it off for 4, of course) and have realised my dream of being a cartoon voice! Buy it, but more importantly, don't put off reading it.
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on 1 April 1998
Most books on life planning have, to my mind, two fatal flaws: they assume that your "strengths" are an infallible guide to what you "should" be doing with your life; and they then attempt to map this to a "career." Barbara Sher starts with the basics: what is most important to YOU? Given that, how are you to get it? (And this doesn't necessarily translate into "career"!) Sher also takes the planning process beyond self-analysis and shows you, in clear and practical terms, how to get the help you need to achieve what you want. Her subsequent books are all worth reading, but start with this one; it's a breath of fresh air amongst the hundreds of "Find the Right Career For You" look-alike guides!
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on 12 February 2008
There are certain books that I give away and then immediately regret giving away and so buy another copy of...This is one of those books. For the reviewer who thought that this was just a lot of "same old, same old", I would remind them that this book was first published at least 20 years ago and so can be considered one of the first of its kind and therefore a "classic". Have Jane Austen's plots not been done and redone? Charles Dickens's? Etc...?

I will not give a synopsis of this book, as the first reviewer did a first class job of that. All I can add is that unlike a lot of more recent books of this kind that are...EARNEST in their tone to say the absolute least, this book is refreshingly "low key" and...well...FUN. Not "fun" in the "Rah! Rah! Go team on the way to plastic perfection!" a la Anthony Robbins (I can say this, I'm American...:):):)), either...More like, "Wow! How exciting to see myself change and grow!" sort of fun...

In any case, this one is a keeper! Buy this and "The Now Habit" for your procrastination issues and keep them on your shelf forever more...Sure, you will read other fantastically helpful books and even keep some of them, but you will always come back to these two.
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on 6 June 2001
Babara Sher is practical, inspiring & really does help you achieve your goals. This book helps not only with locating those buried dreams, but with real life strategies that help you achieve them. The exercises are more revealing than realise on first reading & do them! They work!
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on 16 January 1998
This is truly a life-changing book. If there is anything at all that you have wanted to do with your life, Barbara Sher shows you how to accomplish it--regardless of how small or how large your goal may be. I read this book 10 years ago, and by following her step by step process I have reached goals in my life that I had thought were impossible. Not only do I remommend this book to anyone who wants or needs to change their life, I bought copies for my sisters, my friends, and my mother! The greatest thing that I learned from this book is "If it has ever been done by anyone, it can be done by you!" That line alone opened up a whole new world for me. Rose Sheridan
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on 14 January 2009
Barbara Sher tells a story of how a well meaning but slightly tactless friend made the comment, "if she can make it, then anyone can" and after reading her book, this deceptively simple approach, almost homes-spun at times, and not particularly serious in its attempts at self-realisation, has been a refreshing read in the Steps To Success genre.

She has a BA in Anthropology which by her own admission, is not usually worth much in the worlds of business and commerce. However her inestimable understanding of human nature has undoubtedly helped.

Wishcraft, though acknowledging the personal condition, is a method based approach, where persistence and a facilitation of human foibles are the key, or good old-fashioned hard work and acceptance. This is rather different to the diet of self-help literature that I usually stumble across, that usually begin with the frame of reference a certain amount of 'fixing' is required before psychological happiness can be attained.

Wishcraft is the actuality of getting on and 'doing' rather than finding quasi states of confidence or generating positive thought, which again forms the basis to many 'getting what you (really) want' books. Therefore, the pragmatic realists, will love this book, which is as far away from solipsist navel gazing as you can get...

Barbara Sher starts with the premise that you must know who you are first. Through a series of visualisation and work book exercises, the reader is perceptively led to discover their own genius or vision within, known as 'personal style', thus making conscious the invariably ineffable.. that which may have never been said .. especially in a world that can suppress or undervalue each persons genius.

On the surface there appears to be nothing particularly new in the idea of unwrapping ones hidden gifts as a precursor for success. However what this book is really damned good at doing, is giving shape and form to the elusive obvious within by casting your true essence in concrete so to speak, so it just cannot be ignored.

Once your touchstone is discovered, Wishcraft spends a lot of time in getting the 'wishing' right by leading you through more exercises to help you understand what is it that you want?

Ultimately you are made to feel that you have climbed to the apex of your dreams, so as to bring to life your meta-intention. The method then takes the task of 'crafting' your descent into the real world very seriously by detailing processes of creating flow-charts and schedules that have the unerring sure-footed persistence of a mountain goat, with no room left for excuses!

The third building block to Wishcraft is a back-up facility of friends, family and colleagues who can act as a support system to spur you on in fulfilling your dreams.

In summary, if you are attracted to the idea that what you put in to a task is what you get out of it, and don't know where to start, this book might offer you much. I was also distinctly left with the strong impression that waking up excited in the morning about the day ahead or gaining a deep satisfaction from accomplishing something dear is the true measure of success, which I am also indebted in being reminded about.
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on 2 September 1998
I teach a workshop series titled "Sabotage to Success" and I recommend this book to all my workshop participants. I read Ms. Sher's book about seven years ago and still find it to be one of the best books I've read. If you want to change you life and have fun doing it, this book is a must.
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on 20 August 1996
Nobody does motivation better than Sher. This classic is divided into two main sections: the "wish" part (wherein Sher assists readers in figuring out just what it is we want) and the "craft" part (wherein we learn some of the most powerful techniques ever described for how to achieve our heart's desires). Full of inspiring advice presented in a folksy, approachable style. Contains one of my favourite Sher quotes (keeping in mind that I've highlighted almost the entire book): "Life is short, but it's wide!" Enthusiastically recommended.
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on 12 March 1998
If you've set all your goals, and need to figure out how to achieve them, this is the book for you. Full of sensible, practical advice and procedures for drafting (and sticking to) plans, it surpasses every other book on goal acheivement that I've read. It's not too hyper, if you like a book with a quiet 'tone of voice', but it's never-the-less inspirational with it. Buy it, read it, apply it.
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