For the next few days, count the number of times you hear others use the word “wish.” “I wish I could take tomorrow off.” “I wish I had time to go to the gym.” “I wish I had this report done.” “I wish I could take a really nice vacation to Europe.” “I wish my mom would stop harping about the way I dress.”
Also make note of your own use of the word “wish” as well as what you are wishing for. Do you use wishing as a delay tactic, as an excuse, or is it simply magical thinking—for example, “I wish I would find a thousand dollars.”
We have some culturally ingrained activities that involve wishing. You might make a wish when you blow out the candles on your birthday cake, when you break the Thanksgiving wishbone, or when you blow away the seeds of a dandelion. How often does what you wished for come true?
There’s nothing wrong with expressing a wish, but the problem with wishes is that they carry no weight. They are as flimsy as those dandelion seeds. A wish contains no plan for action to bring about the desired object (buying a lottery ticket isn’t really a plan).
Instead of wishes, what you need are goals. If a trip to Europe is a true goal, how can you begin planning and saving for it? Maybe you really don’t have time to go to the gym, but can you incorporate exercise into your daily activities (like taking the stairs, or tracking the number of your steps each day)? Can you break that report into several parts and be disciplined about finishing it on a set schedule?
There’s nothing wrong with wishing. In fact, a little magical thinking can be fun. But wishing won’t make anything happen. So every time you hear yourself making a wish, stop for a moment and consider whether that wish should, and can, be turned into a goal. That way you can make magic happen.