Jeff Davidson's book, Simpler Living, was Amazon Kindle #1 in its category, first quarter, 2012. Jeff is featured in the NY Times, Forbes, Chicago Tribune, Businessweek, Fortune, Organized Executive, and Success.

Swapping Your Wishes For Goals

When you wish upon a star, you’re wasting your time. Stars are simply great masses of inflamed gases light years away from earth. They are visible to the naked eye because of their sheer magnitude and luminescence. They have, however, no effect on your life, the goals you’re seeking to reach, or anything else about you. If you think I’m belaboring the point, it’s only because so many people engage in wishing as opposed to effective goal setting. It’s enough to make anybody want to head for the stars and stay there.

A Wish Versus a Goal

  • “I wish I could get a big raise.”
  • “I wish I could save some money.”
  • “I wish I could travel around the world.”
If you’ve had any such wishes recently or over the years, is it likely that you’ve made any progress on them? If you hear others make such laments, do you suspect for a second that they’re actually going to attain them? Hardly.

A wish is a daydream, a fleeting fantasy about how things might be. It might be within or totally beyond the realms of possibility. The common denominator of all wishes is that they are not attached to action plans.

Wishes Have Their Place


Wishes, fantasies, daydreams, and such all serve a purpose. They help to:
  • Temporarily relieve you from a trying situation.
  • Build up your anticipation for something that may occur in the future.
  • Help you to see new possibilities.
  • Lay the ground work for what might become a goal.
Wishes and other behavior like wishing can serve as the forerunner to a goal, as it may prompt you to eventually take the steps to make it so. The gap between wishing and taking action, is large, however, as many people are content to wish their lives away.
  • “I wish I could lose ten pounds.”
  • “I wish I could get the boss to notice me.”
  • “I wish I had the time to take my kids to the circus.”

Wishes Can Lose Power


One of the dangers of continuing to wish without taking action towards achievement is that the wishes begin to actually lose power. Have you ever wanted something so badly or for so long, done little to achieve it, and then one day realized that you didn’t want it after all? Sure, we all have.

What goes on when you continually want something, but make no effort whatsoever to achieve it? In a sense, you’re confusing your inner being. On the one hand, part of you is longing for what it is you don’t have. On the other hand, another large part of you intrinsically recognizes that you’re:
  • making no plans,
  • expending no energy, and
  • taking no action.
That part of you concludes you don’t want this after all. Hence, you’re kept in a state of perpetual frustration. You apparently “want” something and, concurrently, are behaviorally locked from taking action.

In your own life, if you wish upon a star, or say one thing, but do something entirely different, it’s not likely you’re going to achieve any of your goals.

What is a Goal?


Okay, you ask, what specifically is a goal? The most practical definition for a goal is a desired outcome. That says it all:
  • “Desired” says it’s something that you’re seeking, something that you want, something you’re willing to strive for or lend energy to.
  • “Outcome” means a result, a situation you can describe, an achievement to which you can point, a feeling that is real and unmistakable.

The Sword in the Stone


To be sure, after achieving a desirable outcome, you’re not fixed in stone; you can set new goals beyond those you’ve achieved. It’s also highly desirable that you’ve enjoyed yourself in your pursuit of your goal.

You’ve heard the old expression “Life is a journey, not a destination.” So too, pursuit of your goals is as much a journey as a destination. As a classic illustration, what value would there be if your goal was to earn a million dollars, and you chewed up 30 years of your life earning that million to only abruptly die in agony?

Conversely, the following people have lifetime goals that can be achieved a little each day:
  • the teacher who wants to empower his or her students,
  • the spouse who wants to have a strong and happy marriage, or
  • the naturalist who wants to enjoy being in nature every day.

Assumptions About You!

  • Your goals are of a positive nature. They are designed to propel you forward in your life and career.
  • Your goals do not interfere with the rights of others. They don’t jeopardize anyone else’s safety or wellbeing.
  • Your goals, however outrageous or lofty, are based on concrete abstracts; i.e., your goals are not to return to the year 1820, become immortal, or distort the fundamental atomic structure.
  • You intend to support your goals through energy and effort.
If your goals don’t fit contradict these assumptions, rethink them. Rather than continually making wishes, the time has arrived for you to set goals and move into action.


Jeff Davidson is "The Work-Life Balance Expert®," is a preeminent time management authority, has written 65 mainstream books, and is an electrifying professional speaker, making 886 presentations to clients such as Lockheed Martin, Eckerd, Kaiser Permanente, IBM, American Express, Lufthansa, Swissotel, Re/Max, USAA, Worthington Steel, and the World Bank. Jeff is Executive Director of the Breathing Space Institute and the author of books such as:
  • Simpler Living (Skyhorse Publishing)
  • Dial It Down--Live it Up (Sourcebooks)
  • The 60 Second Innovator (Adams Media)
  • Breathing Space (CreateSpace)
  • Accomplishing Your Goals (Smart Guide Publications)
Jeff is the premier thought leader on work-life balance issues and has been widely quoted in the Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Christian Science Monitor, New York Times, USA Today, Businessweek, Forbes, and Fortune. Cited by Sharing Ideas Magazine as a "Consummate Speaker," Jeff believes that career professionals today in all industries have a responsibility to achieve their own sense of work-life balance, and he supports that quest through his website www.BreathingSpace.com.

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