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Home > Audio, Podcast > The difference between what is and what you wish it to be

The difference between what is and what you wish it to be

May 1st, 2008

Career Opportunities podcast logoThe difference between what is and what you wish it to be
By Douglas E. Welch

[audio:http://welchwrite.com/career/audio/2008/career-op-20080502.mp3]

Listen: The difference between what is and what you wish it to be

With any endeavor, there is always a vision in our mind of what we wish that endeavor to be. This ideal vision is important, as it gives us something to strive toward. It helps to focus our goals and vision and, most importantly, it helps us to know when we have succeeded.

With individual projects, your vision and your goals are all you need to consider when determining action and success. In shared projects, though, you don’t have the luxury of thinking only of yourself. Each participant will have their own visions and goals for the project. In the most successful projects, shared goals will be developed that can be accepted by most of the participants. These shared goals are dramatically important as without them all the individual goals will conflict and the project will suffer.

In a project without shared goals, it is very easy for the participants to confuse the reality of a project with what they wish were true. This is a very dangerous place to find yourself. It gives you a distorted view of your project and can cause you to make bad decisions for both yourself and those around you.

You have probably seen this in your own work already. A manager may have very clear view of how their project should be executed …how they wish the project would work. Unfortunately, their staff often sees it differently. They see fundamental flaws that will prevent the project from ever meeting the wishes of their manager, but the project continues, without shared goals to guide it. Worse still, failing to recognize these flaws often leads to larger mistakes which brings the project closer to failure.

It is good to have goals and wishes for your projects, but as an old saying goes, “if wishes were horses, then beggars would ride.” Wishes alone can’t guarantee a successful project. Wishes, held up against the flawed reality that exists, do. Constantly comparing your wishes to your reality is what leads to success — not pretending all is well, even when it isn’t.

It is good to have goals and wishes for your projects, but as an old saying goes, “if wishes were horses, then beggars would ride.” Wishes alone can’t guarantee a successful project.

Finally, what applies to our projects also applies to our careers. Sometimes we can try to fool ourselves into believing that our job is exactly what we wish it to be. The bad parts are merely exceptions to the otherwise happy state of our existence. We do this for a variety of reasons. Obviously, the job we have is better than no job at all, so we tell ourselves little lies that allow us to continue working. It is a normal, if not always productive, behavior. Otherwise, we might quit our job as soon as one bad thing occurred. Still, if you find yourself constantly making excuses for your lousy job, then you could be facing big problems. One day you will wake up and find that the situation has gone from bad to intolerable. No amount of wishing will be able to change that.

You goal, in your projects and in your career, is to actively monitor the situation — day to day and week to week — making small adjustments along the way that gradually bring your wishes and reality closer together. Don’t let your wishes and dreams blind you to what is truly happening. Dream your dreams, but ground them in a solid understanding of the gap that remains. In this way, you benefit from both the dreams you have and the good work that you do.


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