Couple of weeks ago, I learned that an interesting and compelling event was happening in New York City while I was vacationing in the city. The feeling of excitement immediately turned into a moment of sadness when I found out that the 99U productivity conference for creatives was sold out. It would have been logistically difficult for me to attend anyway, since the price of admission was on the expensive side.
I caught myself wistfully wishing that I was able to attend the 99U conference. Immediately I realized that line of thinking (and approaching goals) was an exercise in futility. Very little of my accomplishments in my life happened as a result of wishing something--most of my output happened after I turned my wants into results through work. It's time I reframe my "wishes" into wants, and devise strategies for attaining those wants.
Wishing for something to happen puts your fate in hands of others. That's not a trade-off that I'm willing to negotiate. If I want something to happen, I'm going to take steps to get closer to that goal: I'm going to do the work. There is an intrinsic joy in wanting something, discovering what it takes to make it happen, making choices which leads me closer to the goal, gaining insight during the journey, getting it done, and learning how to do it better next time.
The huge pile of work orders that need to be processed upon my return from vacation? I'm going to get them done with quality, care, and integrity. The 5k run that I'm running in two weeks? I'm doing practice runs and scheduling gym sessions during weeks leading up to the event. Work orders do not get done by wishing them away; my conditioning for running races don't improve by simply wishing.
Do you wish that you were popular? How about accepting what your values are, and searching for similar-minded tribes with whom you could contribute to and learn from? How about identifying the venues and arenas in which you could flourish in, rather than aiming to be everything to everyone? If you spend your time wishing that everyone could be in love with you, someone might transform you into a processed, prepackaged meat product instead.
Wishing for an outcome and seeing underwhelming results also breeds a fertile environment in which excuses thrive in. We often find it easy to blame other people or circumstances when things do not turned out as planned. There is a vast forest of unknowns that can be assigned blame. But if you want something and put in the work, the colossal forest can be broken down into manageable chunks where it's easier to identify what can be done better next time.
I'm surrounded and inspired by friends who live the "I want to" paradigm instead of simply wishing for certain outcomes. A friend who was frustrated by the constraints of working in a corporate IT client support environment learned mobile app development on her own time, volunteered her Saturday mornings teaching classes to STEM-curious youths, and transformed her career to where she has greater autonomy, interesting work, and better peace of mind. Another friend has spent years of disciplined practice building her glass jewelry creation skills, learning from and contributing to her artists' community, and becoming an expert in her trade. She recently taught classes at a commercial glass studio/workshop and gave public demonstrations at a convention. Both of these friends knew that simply wishing for outcomes weren't going to cut it. I have countless other friends who inspire me through their dedication to learning, sharing, and growing.
There are several things that I want to happen. Instead of "wishing that I didn't weigh so much," I want to learn how to improve my nutrition, establish a healthy habit of getting ample sleep every night, and engage in fitness activities several times a week. The "I want a meaningful job" desire is reframed as, "I want to work on my strengths at my current job, identify opportunities where I can create visible successes, learn skills which would get me closer to where I want to be, and build relationships with people and communities whom I can learn from and contribute my knowledge to." The "I wish that someone would notice my talents and expertise" fantasy is reframed as, "Promote my brand and value proposition, identify and nurture my tribes and communities, and do the work." No one is going to advocate for my future, no matter how many times I might wish for that to happen.
Even though I didn't attend the 99U conference, I visited the site and took pictures of the signage and the conference area. I want visual reminders of what it would be like to attend, participate in, and contribute to the conference in the future. I did a similar thing last summer when I missed attending the inspiring World Domination Summit in Portland. I attended the open-to-the-public after-party to soak up the vibes. I kept up with the organization's activities throughout the year, and I purchased a ticket for this summer's summit when they went on sale earlier this year. I'll be part of the action instead of wishing that I could be there. It's time that I traded in my magic wand for action pants.