The Human Condition: Wishing Your Life Away

The following is reprinted with permission from Balancing Act® by Alan Weiss, a newsletter that I subscribe to. Alan touches upon a point that is important for each of us to hear

The Human Condition: Wishing Your Life Away

I think a great many people are wishing their lives away. "I wish I were ten pounds lighter," "I wish she'd stop tagging along," "I wish he'd stop picking on me."

You get the picture.

We tend to "wish" instead of taking action, as though we're powerless to master our own fate. Well, I have news for you: "Somewhere over the rainbow"….there's a huge pile of bluebird guano.

The opposite of "wishing" is "make it so," the wonderful command that Starship Enterprise Captain Picard used to give, usually to his Russian navigator, to implement an action. "Our shields are failing, the Klingons are demanding surrender, and our only chance is to divert all power from the holographic recreation system to our last photon torpedo!!!" someone would shout in panic.

"Make it so," said Picard, totally unruffled. (He never said, "Oh, I wish I had three more starships, then I'd show those aliens something!")

Most wishes are fatuous, perhaps the most famous of those being, "Oh, I wish I were an Oscar Meyer wiener…." (At least they got the subjunctive tense correct.) So why do people wish so much?

I think there are several operative factors. One is simply not knowing what else to do. You don't have the skills to stand up to the loud mouth, or you don't know how to counter a brilliant chess move. ("I wish I had studied these openings before playing.") Another is that you are afraid. The other person might retaliate or you might prove to be wrong. ("I wish I didn't rely on her for my support, then I'd tell her.") A third is that you may simply be lazy. You don't want to exert certain effort, for example, to learn the game better. ("I wish I had a better serve/tee shot/hook/fastball/backstroke.") Finally, you may be unorganized or unfocused, and you can't bring the right response to bear at the right time. ("I wish I knew then what I've found out since.")

Wishing is to achievement as television is to aerobic fitness. ("I'm really going to feel the burn this morning, I've decided to watch the Mork and Mindy Marathon on Nickelodian.")

Now, I, personally, would never discount the value of dreaming, hoping for the best, having great plans, your goals exceeding your grasp, yadayadayada. But you have to prepare and execute to realize those objectives, which should stir you to the proper levels of motivation and momentum.

"When you wish upon a star, it makes no difference who you are," because it probably means you're psychotic. Wishing's most pragmatic affect is probably all those coins dropped in fountains (and any random standing body of water) swept up and given to charity.

So stop wishing quite so hard, and start taking some action. Life is about mastering your own fate, walking your own quarterdeck. That way you can guide the ship to the port of your choice, strong wind or slight, heavy seas or calm. You set the direction.

Make it so.

Reprinted with permission from Balancing Act® by Alan Weiss