Wanting vs. Wishing

Little Girl Fingers CrossedWhen I was a little girl my dad would tell me to get my wish list together for Christmas.  It was fully understood that this list could be expansive as I was not going to get everything on that list.  That is why it was a wish list.  I could wish for whatever I wanted, but it didn’t mean I was going to get it.


My dad had a way of instilling reality into even the most whimsical ideas.  To me, it was great.  It was my introduction into the idea of wishing verses wanting.


As I grew older I kept my own little checklist of wishes in my head.  As I got older still I realized there was a single difference between the wishes and the wants; that difference is action.


Without action wants are wishes.  Wishes are things you make on eyelashes, rainbows or shooting stars.  Wishes are thoughts, ideas, goals that are built on dreams, what-ifs and wouldn’t it be nice ifs.


Wants are goals and desires that motivate you enough to take action to achieve them.


Often I hear people say they want to change careers, they want to move up in the company, they want to do this, that and the other.  However, when I ask where they are and what steps they have taken to meet these objectives the answer is “nothing” followed by (in their mind) solid reasoning.


Nope, not going to cut it.  Wish on but please don’t tell me you want.


Those are wishes that you do not want or else you would have taken some sort of action.  The action can be just sitting down and evaluating the want, the obstacles and coming up with a starting point.  But it is action.


I don’t wish to be the best writer, coach and advocate for my client – I want to do so.  This is why I research their industry, keep abreast of tools and techniques and even reach out to other experts to make sure I am providing the best value for my client.  I want it so I act on it.


There are other things that I want that I know I am just not equipped to achieve.  That is when I bring in trusted friends, advisors and coaches.  They know me, they give it to me straight, they allow me to bounce ideas off of them and realistically give me the pros and cons.


From there I can make decisions and follow up with concrete steps.  Already just in the third week of this year I am on my way to fulfilling two wants.  It is because I met with my most trusted advisor and said, “help me please”.


Turning a wish into a want isn’t something you have to do on your own, sometimes you need help.  Swallow your pride and get off your butt and go get it.  Realize that wants come at a cost.


The cost is your time, money, effort, energy, sleep, dedication and a strong resolve to keep going.  If it truly is a want then you will not see these as sacrifices, rather they are the weights that are building a stronger you – like working out.


Not that I  know anything about that, but I have heard that if you start with the smaller weights and train your muscles you can continue to the bigger ones and be all rock hard and smoking hot.  The only way I am going to be smoking hot is by cremation – but my horrible exercise regime is another story.


What is it that you want?  A better job, a job period, increased clients, more revenues, more exposure, more opportunities, less stress – what is it that you really want?  Now determine if these are wishes.


What are you willing to do?  Be realistic.


Oh sure, I would love to be back in the shape I was when I was in my 20s, but that is a wish because I’m not taking the appropriate steps to achieve it.  Dew for breakfast and corralling dogs as exercise just does not cut it.


But serving my clients better – which I am always striving to do, now that is a want and I am willing to do everything that I can to achieve it.  From looking at my time management and getting more training to clearing out the office to provide a calmer environment for writing.


It is great to have wishes, I am not foo-fooing them at all.  What I am advocating is that before you express these wishes to others think about if they are wishes or wants.  Especially if you are asking for help.


I can’t help you with a wish.  I can, however, help you with a want.  If you are willing to have some skin in the game then you are already on your way to becoming unstoppable.


Once you define your want, get an action plan together then invest in yourself by getting your team together.  Your personal cohorts should be supporters, encouraging you and also keeping you to task.  If any supporter starts to doubt you or try to talk you out of your want then that is a bad investment.


Start doing the research.


You want to get into another industry? Start researching, reach out to people in the industry to find out more, find out about what they really do and the path they took to get there.


Want to move up in your company?  Research your own company and department.  Take a good hard objective look at the goals and needs of the company.  Where do they want to go, what are they going to need to get there and how can you be a part of it?


Want to get back into the workforce?  Get out there and start talking to people.  Research volunteer opportunities so that you can feel that you are adding value doing something you like to do while meeting new people.  Research what has changed since you have been gone and how can you adapt to get back in the game.


Bring in an expert when needed.  No one can do it all on their own.  We try, but it is also a bad investment.  You spend more time researching, recreating and chasing your tail rather than just going to a source that will get you there now while removing a lot of the additional burdens along the way.


You are worth it; wants are worth it so stop short-changing yourself into letting those wants turn into wishes.  The ideas are the same the only difference is whether you choose to make it happen or watch it happen for someone else.



Lisa K. McDonald, CPRW

Career Coach-Strategist

Certified Professional Resume Writer

Career Polish, Inc.



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