Wishing your life away

October 5, 2020

David Jaques

Life Hacks

How many times have you heard someone say “I can’t wait for…” [fill in the blank] … “Summer vacation, graduation, being reunited with a loved one” … and many more possibilities. Maybe you have said this yourself, or say it often in the normal course of conversation?  When I hear someone make this statement, my usual thought is that we should not wish our lives away, and that many good things can happen between now, and the event that the person is anticipating.  We should aim to enjoy each moment and make our lives more enriched.

The common thread in making this statement, is that the upcoming event is generally something very positive, and that if we could, we would accelerate time to get there faster so that we can enjoy that moment.  Do you remember being a young child in the middle of December and just wishing that the days would go by faster until Santa Claus arrives?  This is perfectly understandable, and with a lifetime ahead of you, a few lost days of childhood will not make much difference.  But as adults, our lives are more finite, and hoping for the faster passage of time can eliminate so many possibilities.  So generally, I try to avoid saying that “I can’t wait” for something, and know that the upcoming joyful event will come in good time.

So why, at the beginning of September did I catch myself saying that “I just want the next two months to be over”? While I was not wishing my life away until the arrival of something positive, I was looking at it from the negative side of life, but still wishing for time to pass quickly. I can break it down into three things:

Firstly, the weather. I live in Northern California, where the summers are long and very dry. Having grown up in England, I really enjoy the distinctive seasons and changes in weather patterns; so when the sun has been shining every day since April with very few exceptions, I crave the cool autumnal days that I’ve enjoyed living in other climates. We have been the unfortunate victims of many wildfires in the American west; not just this year, but repeatedly for the last several years. I feel sad that the months of September and October are now referred to here as “fire season”.

Next, the upcoming Presidential Election, combined with many other elections at the state and local level. This year’s election is very different from any that I have experienced in the past. This will be the fifth Presidential Election in which I have voted, since becoming a US citizen in 2003 and the outcome is uncertain. There is nothing worse than uncertainty, and I believe that it’s easier to deal with bad news than it is with the unknown and the anxiety that comes with it.

And finally, the ongoing pandemic, with no clear end in sight.

Now at the beginning of October, I still look forward to the passing of the next few weeks. The weather will be cooler, with rain on the horizon and wildfires will have been controlled; the election will be over; and at least we’ll be a little closer to a Covid vaccine than we are today.  

But, is it healthy for me to be wishing my life away?  No, it is not. In the few weeks that follow, I will make an effort to have at least one good experience each day. It could be an early morning run, when the air is cool and clear; learning something new; or simply watching a good movie or reading a good book. The benefits we can get from seeking those positive experiences can really outweigh the negative landscapes that we paint for ourselves. We are all faced with negativity in our lives, often with things we are unable to control. But what we can control is how we deal with negativity, and make sure that negativity does not control us.

Next time you hear or say those words “I can’t wait”, pause for a moment and remember that life is too short to wish it away.

Hi, I’m David. I’m from London, but after living in New York and Amsterdam, I settled in Silicon Valley, California where I’ve lived since 1994. From the relatively safe life of working for a global bank like Barclays, I became fascinated by startup companies, innovation and ways in which the world could be changed for the better. So I opened my mind, became a risk taker and a life-long learner.

As founding CFO of PayPal, Treasurer at Silicon Valley Bank and Director at Blue Run Ventures, I’ve been recognised by the global Fintech community as a pioneer in the payments industry. I have served on the boards of public and private companies as well as a couple of non-profit organisations.

But what about me? Well, I like running, skiing and mountain climbing in my free time; plus, I love to travel and see the world. I have two adult children, a wonderful wife, some cats and a harrier puppy.

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