How-to-Escape from the Land of Shoulda Woulda Coulda.

Author J. Mike Smith is a executive, career, and leadership team coach, helping individuals, start-ups, teams and groups perform significantly better.

It’s the rare person who doesn’t want things to be better: better job, better career, better income, better everything.

And if only things were better then that person – maybe you, maybe me – would finally have the life that they deserve.

Life, it seems, seldom works that way.

The reality is that you are you, and it’s what you do with yourself that makes all the difference in the world.

Beverly Knight notes in her song Shoulda Would Coulda that “Shoulda woulda coulda” are the last words of a fool.” In “On the Waterfront” actor Marlon Brando laments the bad hand that fate – and collusion – has dealt him by claiming I could have been a contender.

It turns out that when your wishes do become dreams, like many millionaire lottery winners, that people always haven’t had lives that turned out so well.

Better to be optimistic, suggests Daniel Kahneman, and figure out what to do with work, career or life that has left you with perceived shortcomings.

Nobel prize winner Kanenhman in Thinking, Fast and Slownotes the following about optimists:

“Optimistic individuals play a disproportionate role in shaping our lives. Their decisions make a difference; they are inventors the entrepreneurs, the political and military leaders – not average people. They got to where they are by seeking challenges and taking risks. They are talented and they have been lucky, almost certainly luckier than they acknowledge.”

So they next time you start reaching for the “Should Would Coulda” button, trying being optimistic and figure out a way for things to get better. Then do it.

Here’s Kahneman’s take on why prospect theory, something that Amos Tversky and he developed, was so well embraced:

“Prospect theory was accepted by many scholars not because it was “true” but because the concepts it added to utility theory, . . they yielded new predictions that turned out to be true. We were lucky.”

Want some luck? Be optimistic. Go find it.

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