Hoping vs. Wanting – What Is Your Difference?

Little Girl Fingers CrossedI am glad the NBA finals are over, not that I don’t like basketball, I do. I was just over all the things outside of the actual play of ball.

At the beginning of the series someone told me that the Spurs were going to win because that is what they wanted, and they always get what they want. Oooook….

So today the story changed to it was what he hoped for not what he wanted so his “theory” still holds true. Oooook….

When I asked what was his difference between hoping and wanting he told me that a want was something you could buy or work for but a hope is something you want to happen but have little or no control of it.


I am going to take it a step farther – a hope is a non-committed want. I think the difference isn’t in what you have control over, but rather your attitude.

I hear things like, “I hope I get a job soon”, “I hope I am successful”, “I hope this resume works”. Those are wasted hopes. They are like wishes on eyelashes – you are giving your power away and thinking that some external force is going to swoop in and make it all happen.

That’s like waiting for the cleaning fairies to show up and clean your house – those little buggers have yet to show up at my house, but I still hold out hope that one night they will appear and I will wake to an immaculate home.

When I hear “I want” my first thought is “what are you going to do to make it happen?” A want involved thought, action, commitment, movement and accountability.

There are many things I want personally and professionally. So in looking at these things I ask myself, “self, what are you willing to do to get them?” Because if I am not willing to work for it then it is merely a hope that I really don’t want after all.

That resume is not going to work unless you put it in play, sell it, use it, know it, learn it, utilize it as a tool as a means to an end. Sitting pretty on your computer won’t make a hope into a reality.

A want also takes internal work. Why do you want what you want? Telling someone you want to be happy is meaningless unless you also know what it will take to make you happy.

What makes me happy professionally? Working with great clients, providing the right tools for them to use in their journey, teaching them how to use the tools effectively, continuing to improve my skills, reaching as many people as I can to provide support, encouragement and professional coaching or services that make a positive difference in their life, engaging with other professionals to broaden my range, education, experiences and interactions.

What do I do to make these wants happen: continually read and research my craft, reach out as much as possible, connect with prospects to make sure it is the best fit for both of us, release the negativity and choose not to work with the angry, engage with others and always remain open to opportunities.

These are choices and I have complete control over them. I hope for wonderful things for my friends and family because the bottom line is they have the control over their life, not me.

If your situation is not what you hoped for than perhaps you need to make it a want. Your current job not fulfilling or on the verge of misery? Than want a better environment and start taking action and accountability to make it a reality. Communicate what you need, open your eyes to see what action you can take to improve the situation, receive input from others and begin with the mind set that this is what you want so this is what will be.

It is not always easy. You may get frustrated or hurt during the process of want. It is like being in a relationship. You both might be afraid of getting hurt again but if you just hope you don’t and keep those walls up nothing is going to change. It is superficial and only a half attempt. Want a fulfilling relationship, be open to the bumps and bruises in order to reach the point of fulfillment.

It may crash and burn or it may flourish and fulfill you – there are always outside obstacles you cannot control; but either way you will have grown, stretched and hones your skills and abilities by trying, working and being committed to your positive want. And if that want is not reached then the opportunity was a chance to re-evaluate yourself as to your commitment, expectations and accountability.

Maybe it prepared you for the next time, which is actually the right time.

A want is within, a commitment to yourself, a scary grown-up place that leads to an incredible journey that just might be worth more than the fulfillment of the actual want itself. But you will never know until you stop hoping and start wanting.

Lisa K. McDonald, CPRW

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