Currently in its 30th anniversary edition, Wishcraft: How To Get What You Really Want by Barbara Sher is a time-honored treasure of established goal-setting strategies aimed at helping individuals find their meaning and purpose in life. While reading this book, expect to feel motivated, relevant, and capable of achieving almost anything.
Wishcraft opens with an entire section devoted to dispelling age-old myths of worthlessness and selfishness to which we are all conditioned. We see our fathers and mothers struggle to earn a living, working at jobs they may or may not enjoy to provide food, shelter, and clothing, and we are left feeling guilty, as though we have to follow in those same footsteps. In essence, we feel guilty or selfish if we dream of a life beyond a mundane existence. As children, our imagines run wild, and we believe that we can be anything we want. Sometimes, our parents support that notion, but they fail to advise us that the journey is going require work and may be difficult. Other times, our parents may suggest that we seek out more likely and stable careers. Either way, we are not equipped to deal with our greatest dreams and aspirations in life when that time finally comes.
The techniques and exercises in Wishcraft help eliminate old demons that hold an individual back from believing in themselves and attempting to built a life of happiness and satisfaction. Once that has been accomplished, Barbara Sher moves on to several strategies intended to help individuals set goals and work toward their dreams. From brainstorming ideas and gathering groups together in a “barn-raising” event (what we would now refer to as networking), Sher offers exacting standards by which actual results can be seen almost instantly. By beginning with the end goal in mind, actually looking out as far as five years, and working backward, you can identify small steps you can begin taking as soon as tomorrow toward achieving your long-term goals. The exercises and strategies presented here are timeless which is why this book has remained in print for three decades.
Although the concepts and tools remain relevant, some of the examples and experiences within the book are very outdated. Especially in the comparisons between men and women, the book seems incredibly dated. While in no way do I suggest that we have reached a point of gender equity in society, Sher’s examples are full of housewives whose husbands are unsupportive of their ideas and would prefer they stay home and cook and clean for their families. Additionally, the reader will find the outdated reference to certain television and film personalities. My hope is that the motivation, concepts, and tools do not get lost beneath some of irrelevant examples. This book is certainly worthy of a modernization, a re-write to bring it into modern times.