I’m often told that people fall into 2 categories: “wishers” and “doers.”Individuals who tell me this are often surprised to hear my response: that my experience and research indicates that this is almost always absolutely untrue!My conclusion may seem counter-intuitive at first, but I recently conducted a scientific study on this topic and found some very interesting results that might be helpful to both your business and your personal life.
My team and I spent about 2 years researching the difference between wishing and doing. During our investigation, it became apparent that no one is either a doer or a wisher. During the course of almost every day, all of us do some things we want to do and all of us also spend some time simply wishing we could do other things. Even if it is only eating when hungry or using the restroom when necessary, everyone does something on a regular basis. On the other hand, we did not encounter one person who did not have something that they wished they did more often; some wised they were more efficient at work or that they were better at doing things related to leadership excellence – others wished they exercised more or spent more time with loved ones.
It quickly became apparent that, since we all do and wish from time to time, the trick is not to become a “doer.” Instead, it may make more sense to (a) identify the factors that influence us to do the things we want to do more often, then (b) become more skilled at putting these factors to work for us (and others in our lives) on a daily basis. At the end of our 2 year-long study, we feel as though we were able to shed some light on how to do this. Five factors that strongly differentiate between wishing and doing are listed below along with some brief explanations:
- Perception of enough time to do what we wish to do. We tend to only attempt to do what we believe we have time to do – and find all kinds of ways to avoid what we do not think we will have time to do. Ironically, many people report that they often find between 20-40 hours every week that they could have used to do more of what they wanted to do. Clearly,perception of time availability is not always reality. We normally have much more time than we perceive to do what we wish – if we are willing to stop doing certain things we do not want to do as much! Doing fewer less important things increases our time perception – and doing levels go up as our perception of time increases. Click here for ideas on how to increase time perception.
- Motivation to do what we wish to do. Wishing without doing is often associated with an inability to perceive powerful pay-offs for doing certain things on a consistent basis. When individuals are trained in the art of internalizing more of their motivation, they often find themselves actually doing many more things than they used to only wish they could do. This is because internal motivation is the only kind of motivation that is completely under our control – if we depend completely on outside influences to motivate us, our doing is under the control of these sources. This often leaves people in a state of “wishing” that someone else would come to motivate them to “do” more. Click here for ideas on how to increase motivation.
- Accessibility to necessary materials and training. Wishing is also associated with having less access to information and materials related to activities we wish we would do than one has for the activities that tend to get done in our lives. People who become more skilled at attaining these resources (rather than simply wishing they had them or that someone else would provide them) often find themselves moving from wishing to doing more and more frequently. Click here for ideas on how to increase accessibility.
- Enjoyment of the process (not just the outcome) of doing what we wish to do. Doing is linked with a certain level of enjoyment for getting the small things on the path to achievement done, while wishing is associated with dreading these small things (and wishing that they were already done for us). Many people are surprised to find out that enjoyment is often more under their control than they realize – most activities can be enjoyed more by putting enjoyment-enhancing mechanisms into play. For example, the book Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience is an excellent resource for some ideas on how to enjoy activities more. Click here for ideas on how to increase enjoyment.
- Social support for consistently doing what we wish to do. The more that the important people in our lives encourage us to do what we wish, the more we do. On the other hand, we tend to wish more and do less if these individuals are not supportive of our doing. A key here is becoming aware of the different types of social support and how to consistently recruit our favorite kinds of support into our lives (and minimizing our time with those who do not provide us with our favorite types of support). Click here for ideas on how to increase social support.
This article was written with Brian Higley
This article originally appeared in the Excellence Tree Journal: http://www.excellencetree.com/journal/