People ask me all the time, what are you willing to do to accomplish your goals? And I always give the same answer, every time: whatever it takes. It’s the perfect response. It’s like, back off, OK? Stop asking me any more questions. But at the same time, don’t worry about it, OK? Because I’ve got it. So just leave me alone.
Like every once in a while my wife will get on my case about something, “Rob, what are you going to do about that giant pile of unfolded mismatched socks?” and I’ll stop whatever it is I’m doing, but only for a second, just enough time to make really solid eye contact, and I’ll say it, “Babe, whatever it takes,” and then I’ll go back to playing video games or surfing the Internet. And it always works. Because how could I express it any stronger that, listen, I got this, don’t worry, stop interrupting my nap time or TV time to ask me about socks?
You’ve got to follow through though, eventually. Like one time, it started out as just socks, “Honey, whatever it takes,” and it just kind of snowballed into underwear, t-shirts, “Baby,” after a while it was like every single piece of clothing that I owned lay crumpled up in this gigantic pile that totally dominated our second bedroom, “Whatever it takes,” I kept saying it.
But I could tell that it was losing its effectiveness, there was definitely one night where she was like, “You keep saying that, but what does it even mean? That you’re just going to keep saying ‘whatever it takes’ without actually doing anything about it?” And I took the bait, I said, “End of discussion,” but I shouldn’t have engaged. The whole point of saying, “Whatever it takes,” is to say it, and then go right back to your business.
Hint: Don’t say “end of discussion.” I don’t know why, exactly, it must have something to do with the intricacies of the English language, but where “whatever it takes” evoked that image of a man ready to do, well, whatever it takes to get the job done, “end of discussion” just comes out making you look like a dick, and all of the sudden the two of you are in a fight, and about what? I have no idea.
But like I was saying before, that time with all of my clothes, I was at the point where I had to do something, so I said it one final time, “Babe …” and I said it, and then I left the house, I took the dog for a walk, and when I came home, I took two Benadryl and went straight to bed. And then when I got up that next morning, I had to figure something out.
“Whatever it takes,” I said it to myself as I made a move to start folding clothes. But I couldn’t do it. It was too much. The job was a lot larger than anything I could handle, and so I went online. I searched craigslist for house cleaners. All of the ads looked identical, so by total chance I had this Russian lady at my house a few hours later.
“I want you to clean the whole place,” I told her, thinking that I’d show my wife, like look, baby, don’t bother me, OK, I told you I got this, and I got this. “Also,” I said, “I need you to fold all of these clothes.” She just kind of stood there in the doorway to the second bedroom not saying anything. “They’re all clean, I promise. I just haven’t folded anything in a while.”
“I’m going to need to call in for some help if you want the whole house done plus these clothes.” And I just looked at her and I said, “Whatever it takes.”
I came home like five hours later and the place was spotless. “How much?” I asked her, and she said, “Two-fifty.” I said, “Are you kidding me? Two hundred and fifty dollars? That’s insane!” And she shot back, “You said ‘whatever it takes,’ remember? This is what it took, two hundred and fifty dollars.”
So I had to go to the bank, only, and I don’t know how I didn’t think to plan this out a little better, but all of money was currently off to the side in one of these online savings accounts. My direct deposit wasn’t supposed to show up until Saturday, and so I found myself kind of begging the branch manager, “Isn’t there any way you can get some of that online money out of there and into the checking? I really need it, right away.”
And he was like, “I mean, we can make it happen, it’s just a matter of bank fees, there’s a lot to process, I hope you understand it’s …”
“Whatever it takes man, make it happen.”
And then when my wife came home that night, she took one look at the house, totally spotless, she was like, “What the hell, did you have someone come and clean the house? Is that why the bank called to approve a twenty-five dollar emergency transfer fee? What the hell Rob?”
After she calmed down, I really did want to make things right. I sat her down and said, “Sweetie, listen, I’m sorry, I know I let you down. And I just want to let you know that I want to do whatev …”
“Just shut up Rob, stop saying ‘whatever it takes,’ OK? Is it like a tick? Don’t you get bored saying the same thing over and over again? What’s it going to take to get you to stop saying it? Huh? And think really hard before you answer that question.”
“Look …” and I didn’t say it. But I thought it. In my head, I was screaming it out loud. “I’ll do whatever it takes, you hear me? Whatever it takes.”