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Stop Wishing You Were Somewhere Else


If you reflect on this insidious tendency to be wishing you were somewhere else, you may agree that it’s a silly, even self-destructive thing to do. Before you jump up and say, “Wait a minute, I don’t do that,” let me explain what I mean.


There are many ways that we __ ( I )__ time wishing we __ ( II )__ somewhere else. We’ll be at work and wish we __ ( III )__ home. Or during the middle of the week we __ ( IV )__ it were Friday. Sometimes we wish we __ ( V )__ something else with our careers. We wish we __ ( VI )__ different responsibilities or could spend our time with different people. We wish our boss were different, or our employees. We wish our working environment were different or we had a different kind of commute. We wish our industry were different, or that our circumstances would change. This list could obviously go on. The problem is, these wishes aren’t reality, but rather, they are thoughts of a different reality.


If you’re not careful, you can begin to wish your life away, always wishing you were somewhere other than where you actually are. But you’re not somewhere else. Rather, you’re right here. This is reality. One of my favorite quotes is, “Life is what’s happening while we’re busy making other plans.” A slightly different version might be, “Life is what’s happening while we’re wishing we were elsewhere.” When you are wishing you were somewhere else, it’s almost as though you are one step removed from life rather than actually being in it, open to life exactly as it is.


From a practical standpoint, it’s very difficult to be focused and effective when your mind is preoccupied with where it would rather be. In fact, the two are a contradiction of terms. Your concentration suffers because there is a lack of engagement, a lack of zeroing in on what’s truly significant. In addition, it’s virtually impossible to enjoy yourself and what you are doing when you’re focused more on where you’d rather be than where you actually are. Think about the things you enjoy most. In all cases, they are activities where you are completely absorbed in the moment, really focused on what you are doing. In the absence of the focus, the joy you experience is diminished. How much fun is it to read a good novel when you’re thinking about something else?

Adapted from Don’t Sweat The Small Stuff Treasury – A Special Collection for the Office by Richard Carlson


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