I’m a very optimistic person. I cultivate and protect my optimism because it has carried me very far through difficult times. It is the reason I persevere during challenging times. It has given me hope when I walked away from it. It gives me energy and motivation. But, like all things in life, there is a shadow that often masquerades as optimism. What is it? Introducing wishful thinking.
Wishful thinking is Polly-Anna positive which means you are ignoring your reality. You have to think about the negative effects and/or consequences of wishful thinking to discern what is good and true and right for you. This usually means accepting that “it” is going in the wrong direction, “it” isn’t going to change, and more importantly, you can’t fix “it.” Commonly we get stuck in the powerful lure of wishful thinking such as, “I know when (fill in the blank) happens “it” will be ok!” Or another example, “But, if I just (fill in the blank), I know ‘it’ will turn around.” But, what typically happens is we ceaselessly try to fix “it” all in the hopes of a-180-degree turnaround. We do this proactively, with good intentions, by establishing consequences, attending counseling or a myriad of other “trying” options.
You’re probably asking, “So how do I know if I’m in the snare of wishful thinking?” Ask yourself this one question, “How do you feel the majority of the time about/when “(fill in the blank)?” If the majority of the time you feel overwhelmed, angry, frustrated, worn out, anxious, etc. your gut, your intuition, your reality, your God, is telling you it is time to recognize “it” doesn’t serve you and it’s time to move on.
Caveat: if “it” is an integral part of your life (job/a primary relationship/…) move on only and only if you sincerely and respectfully gave notice (the old college try) to the situation/behavior and “it” didn’t respond. Don’t wait till you’re beyond wit’s end, angry, or exasperated. It’s not their fault you didn’t communicate your needs and/or concerns. And, no, they are not supposed to read your mind. Not your boss, your spouse, your children, your employee, your neighbor, your pastor, your mother, etc…
So what’s the solution? Execute, execute, execute. Nothing gets done without activity. Pick up the phone and make sales calls. Write that content. Create new campaigns. Innovate new products. Do what it takes to get “it” done.
Hope is not a strategy. Hope does not reduce your debt. Hope does not stop someone from treating you poorly. Hope doesn’t bring in the sales, give you a good grade, clean your house, create an employee manual, or shed the pounds. Hope does not improve your job. Hope cannot change a person’s heart. You can’t wish away your problems. Hope may not be a strategy, but it is a promise that your life gets (much) better with optimism AND execution.
Wishful thinking has a lot of power and it can derail even the best intentions. Stop surviving, take back that power, execute, and start thriving.