What if I said that wishful thinking was a waste of time? Some of you would agree and some of you would disagree and say it’s good to escape from the day to day rigmarole. My question to you would be ‘what are you escaping from?’ If you are being really honest with yourself, the answer is likely to be you and your life. I’d say that’s pretty scary.
Whether you agree that wishful thinking is a waste of time, or not, I’m going to tell you why it’s a waste of time and that actually, it’s very damaging. Before I explain why, I want you to know that I firmly believe that having dreams and goals is very important and I’m definitely not saying don’t have them. What I am saying is, don’t waste time wistfully daydreaming about them.
So, how can daydreaming and wishful thinking be damaging? Firstly, it’s a waste of time. 10 minutes acting out your dream life in your head is 10 minutes you could be working on making it happen. Secondly, if you let your mind wander to a point where you are acting out your perfect imaginary life, your happiness levels are so far removed from reality that when you come back down, it will be with quite a thump. Let’s say your emotional happiness is measured from 1 to 10, 10 being as good as it gets and 1, well, let’s just say you never want to be at 1, it’s a very dark place. Let’s agree that 5 is everyday life and things are ok, the weather is mediocre, you’re doing a job that pays the bills (my summary of the average British person) and nothing particularly good, or bad, is happening. For me the wishful thinking would creep in around level 4, I’d normally wish that I had just won the lottery, £5m to be precise. I’d spend about £2m on property (a house in the UK, an apartment in the Alps for climbing in the summer and an apartment in the Rockies for skiing in the winter) and I’d stick the rest in a high interest account and live off the interest. I’d get good at climbing and great at skiing. Skiing is the one thing I’d say I was good at – I’m lucky in that I’m a jack of all trades and pick up most things pretty quickly but skiing is something that I fell in love with the moment I tried it and I genuinely think I would have got to a good level had I started as a kid and grown up near a resort – my friend, who taught me to ski always said I had a total disregard for my own personal safety when learning to ski which resulted in me being comfortable on the edge (an usually way outside) of my ability which is why I’ve gotten good in a relatively limited amount of time.
Anyway, I digress. So, there you are, feeling like a 4 and you start to daydream. You transport yourself away to an imaginary life that is a 9 or even a 10 and you feel great but then what? You can’t stay there, can you? No, and without warning, real life comes crashing back and now you feel like a 2. Why? Because the devastation of realising you aren’t living in that dream state is a kick in the balls and takes you down to a place lower than when you started. The more you do it, the worse it gets.
There is no upside, just down. So don’t do it. Now some of you will have never experienced this so good for you but some of you will have and you need to stop and you need to stop now. For those of you that have taken it even further and wished they were someone else. STOP RIGHT NOW! This is a very bad thing to do. You are you and nothing in the world is going to change that so buck up your ideas and start figuring out what is going to make you happy and start taking steps to make it happen. I don’t believe that happiness is a right but I do believe it is something we can all achieve, if we work at it. I’m the happiest I’ve ever been because I’m doing something I love. Find what it is you want to be and get out there and be it.
To help you on your way, remember this: when you look back at something you’ve achieved that you thought was going to be hard, it was not as hard as you thought it was going to be, was it? Think about it for a minute. Things always seem tougher before you do them and that’s because the hard work still lies ahead but when you’ve done it, you’ve done it and the hard work is behind you.
Don’t just dream about your dreams, get out there and live them.