It’s rare to find an individual who hasn’t at one time or another been disappointed with their life. I know I have…until I realized that my life was the result of the choices I made and reexamined those choices.
Generally when we are disappointed with life it’s because we wish something was different. But as we all know, wishing doesn’t produce anything except disappointment and frustration until we make a conscious choice to act to make that wish a reality.
One of the ways to avoid disappointment with life is to examine our wishes objectively. You can do that by looking at what you wish from the standpoint of steps you need to take to make that wish a reality. As you list the steps you need to take, you can evaluate your willingness to take these steps by rating them on a scale of one to five, with five being high.
This simple analysis will tell you how much you want what you wish. It’s a natural human tendency to assume what we wish is what we want. The reality is that when we evaluate what we’re wishing in light of what we have to do to get what we wish, the payoff isn’t worth the effort.
As I’ve worked through this exercise in the past, what I’ve discovered is that more often than not, the choices I made previously are the same choices I’d make today. This is particularly true when I’ve followed my passion. Certainly, not every effort produced the result I desired, but given the joy I gained in pursuit of my passion and what I learned about myself and how to deal with the challenges the effort posed, I wouldn’t change a thing.
Disappointment and choice
If, during your analysis of what you wish, you determine that you really are disappointed with your life, realize that you have the ability to make new choices…choices that will put you on the track for what you wish.
One of our natural tendencies as human beings is to beat up on ourselves for having made the “wrong” choices in the past. We may even use these disappointing experiences to question our ability to make better choices in the future.
What we fail to realize is that the information we have today is not the same information we had at the time we made the decision. Saul Alinsky makes this point vividly in his book, Rules for Radicals (opens in a new link).
Bemoaning earlier decisions is a waste of time. Gaining an understanding of what we really want using the “evaluating wishes” process places your focus where it needs to be…on taking the actions necessary to make your wish a reality.
In addition to acknowledging that we have information today that we didn’t have when we made our original choice, we have to realize that we change over time. Our skills and abilities grow, we gain knowledge with experience. What was once new and exciting is now boring. What was once challenging is now handled deftly affording us little opportunity to learn and grow. In other words, our interests change over time…as they should. It’s part of natural evolution from youth to seasoned adult.
Another way to look at disappointment is that we’re ready for something new, something that will add excitement and the joy of pursuit back into our lives.
When you experience disappointment in your life, realize two things:
- You’re ready for something new.
- You have the ability to make new choices at any time in your life.
When you shift your focus from bemoaning your lot in life to identifying what’s next in your life, be sure to evaluate what you’re wishing. This will help you avoid starting down a path with a choice that you later regret. Many things are intriguing, even exciting, until we realize what we need to do to make them a reality.
When your evaluation has affirmed that you’re willing to take the actions necessary to fulfill your wish, you’ll experience the joy of pursuing what excites you. You’ll have made a conscious choice. Conscious choices tend to produce much better results than those made emotionally.
By the way, don’t forget to remind yourself daily of all that you’ve accomplished over the years. Contentment with your past achievements coupled with the pursuit of what you wish assure you a life filled with joy.
For our kids
As kids express wishes that life were different, ask them:
- What do you wish was different?
- What would it take to accomplish what you wish?
- What steps are involved in making your wish come true?
- On a scale of one to five, with five being high, how willing are you to take each step?
Then let them know that they are free to make new choices at any time that what they’re doing no longer makes them happy. They’ll experience fewer disappointments in life.
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I love hearing your thoughts and experiences, please share your experience in a comment.
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