As a child I learned to wish upon a star, to heaven or to myself. I wanted many things near and far. I wanted easy tests, a game win, toys and work free days. All of this energy was forward looking with relatively static momentum. As the weeks and years progressed though, I found myself saying “I wish I had done…” My grades could have been better had I studied, my idea could have had my name on the patent, my skills would be more rounded, my relationship would have been better or I could have seen the world!
How did I start wishing forwards with HOPE and then later in life find myself wishing backwards with REGRET? In good time, I realized that the things we do not accomplish are a direct result of the momentum we apply at the time we express our wish. Childhood wishes were fine in the family circle, where parents could help me realize my dream, but as I got older that responsibility was clearly mine.
To be sure, momentum is fueled by our burning desire to achieve something but environment, finances, health, parents, work and a variety of other things temper that momentum. For some, the goals are lofty, and yet for others the goals seem well within their reach. In both scenarios though, many will fail to accomplish their goals. New Years resolutions will have a short life, commitments will fall through, and career achievements will be cut short as “life gets in the way.” As we grow older, most of us will look back with regret for the things we coulda or shoulda done.
The decisions we make, recognizing that indecisions are also a decision to not do something now, have downstream consequences. Wishing attitudes and procrastinating behaviors start early and have financial consequences too. A Civic Enterprises 2006 study revealed that “70% of high school graduates wish they had worked harder and taken more rigorous courses in high school” and the College Board in 2004 revealed that “a typical college graduate will earn $1 million more over a lifetime than a high school graduate.”
The dreams I have are mine to pursue yet there is a price I must pay of time, commitment and resources. To be sure, there is personal sacrifice required so with the help of my self-talk I found 5000 excuses for not accomplishing early goals but not one valid reason. I had to give life to these intangible mental thoughts and turn them into a physical reality. It is personal creation at its best!
One by one I started laying my ideas out and planning the how and when I would accomplish them. There was a broad range of goals from receiving a degree, Scuba diving, pilot certifications, international travel, million dollar real estate portfolios, business ownership and family goals. Money was a problem though as I was poor, even homeless living out of a homebuilt camper in my teens, so these lofty goals seemed distant.
Obstacles, hurdles and naysayers were plenty. Isn’t this what happens to us all? We want the roadblocks blasted and the debris washed away so we can see a clear path. Before we begin, a clean road would surely be a sign of the path we should take. Our trajectory is clear and straight. Yet this too is just a wish if there is no momentum. Where can we get the power necessary to wash away obstacles?
The Grand Canyon in Arizona is an example of what water in motion can do for landscaping on a grand scale. This canyon was formed by the persistent action of the Colorado River as it gradually eroded away every layer of rock, every boulder and every pebble that lay in its path to leave a 277 miles long, 18 mile wide and over a mile deep breathtaking view. Today, it is one of the seven natural wonders of the world. Could you and I wash away the naysayers and find our path like a river winding its way to the mighty ocean?
The truly successful people have all worked hard for their accomplishments. They have invested thousands of hours in the living daydream, taken risks, failed often and forged paths where others dared not go. They are no different than you and me. Like water they have continuously cleansed their path, washed away obstacles, nourished their commitment and given life to their thoughts.
Regardless of our age, it is never too late to see our wishes transformed into reality. Neither the gadgets we buy, nor the volume of entertainment we can afford to consume, can compare with the joy felt when we scale the mountain we were afraid to climb. The risks we take in life – and the amount of sweat we invest – prevents any regret from settling in had we not taken any action. The journey and risks we take will determine our level of fulfillment.
Almost every goal I have set, I have achieved (although never on my own timeline). Usually, my achievements are years or more beyond my original timeline, and some even decades later like my MBA and pilot certification. To be sure, I have failed a lot too but have become ever more wiser in the process.
As the inevitable time comes to bid farewell to our earthly existence, the strength of the memories we create now will energize our successors with our own immortality. We should all be living examples of what we teach our children… “you can do and be anything you want to be.” Let’s all leave the wishing behind… and become a WASHER making full use of the power of water to cleanse, polish, nourish and sustain our purpose driven life!
Enrique Ruiz, President
Enrique ‘Rick’ Ruiz is President of PositivePsyche.Biz Corp, a management consulting and training firm in the Washington DC area. He earned an MBA in the UK and has led teams in Canada, Mexico, the United Kingdom and across the US. He is PgMP , CM and CDE certified, has managed operations up to 15,000 people strong, is an inventor with a family of six and an author of five books including the popular Wisher, Washer, Wishy-Washy, How To Move From Just Existing to Personal Abundance. Read more articles of interest at blog.AmericasDiversityLeader.com