Years ago, I mentored a young man who told he we needed to lose weight. I agreed to help him with that, and we came up with a strategy to help him reach his goal. For weeks afterwards, each time we met, he explained why he had not started doing the things we agreed would be useful to help him with his goal.
A few months later, I finally said something to him like, "You really don't want to lose weight. You just want the benefits of having lost weight. You only wish you wanted to lose weight"
As I thought about myself, I realized that his attitude toward weight loss was just like my attitude toward physical fitness. I wanted the benefits, but really didn't want to go through the steps to reap them. Even when I was in several seasons of my life where I was running twenty to thirty miles a week, it was never something I enjoyed. Weight training has never seemed like something I could bring myself to do consistently. I reached an epiphany talking to this young man about it.
I confessed, "I understand how you feel. I wish I wanted to work out, but I just really don't…"
I realized at that moment that wishing to want to do something was common. Some people wish that they wanted to study. Others wish that they wanted to do volunteer work. Some wish that they wanted to—as that young man did—lose weight. People wish they wanted to find a new job. Wishing to want to is everywhere, in every aspect of life.
How people respond to those things they know the should or ought-to do often marks the difference between if they continue to advance in an area or if they stagnate. If passing a course of study is needed to get a promotion… If losing weight is needed to be an active member of a friend group… If cutting back spending is needed…
The difference between thriving and getting by is often realized by facing the undesirable aspects of life head on. Pushing past only wishing to want to and simply doing what needs to be done is, in many cases, the difference between success and failure.
As we mature and develop, we learn to do many things that we need to do, whether we want to or not. Realizing that you only wish you wanted to do something is the first step in resigning yourself to actually doing it. When you finally realize that you will never happily take on a task, it becomes easier to simply decide to, enjoyable or not, do it. Mature people will simple decide to do it and take the necessary steps. They will give in to the ought-tos and shoulds that they decide are worth pursuing and make incorporate them into their lives.