All things in magic, even those concepts perverted by fantasy, fluffiery, or zealously, can be traced back to a grain of definitive truth, though that grain can be obvious, or near impossible to sever from fantasy depending on the polluted subject.
In this case the question of 'wishes' versus reality shows us that, directly speaking, putting belief into a desire doesn't bring it to fruition. In short, wishes, by their very nature, are insubstantial influences in and of themselves.
As far as reality is concerned, wishes and whims are irrelevant-different paths will agree for different reasons, personally I believe the individual presence of consciousness and free will in each person prevents any one soul from becoming truly omnipotent over their peers.
Anyway, the point is that wishes, too, possess a grain of truth. Though they fail to yield mastery of reality directly, the raw concept of a wish-the manipulated direction of personal belief, along with a clear fortitude of desire can, if properly wielded, indirectly galvanize results in the real world.
For example, someone without the spark of drive, or someone who resigned their desires and accepted reality flatly, will never have a chance to attain that desire. Conversely, if you derived the energy from wishing and poured it into your ultimate goal (within reason-and natural law) can give purpose, if not a clear pathway to that success.
Wishing for something and waiting for it to occur will always, without question, end in the expected failure.
Wishes-at their truthful core-are really nothing more than our goals and desires. The function of a 'wish' is to provide purpose, and then, should you choose to pursue that wish, to bolster your drive throughout the various and inevitable trials that stand between yourself and your desire.
Like all things, that inner drive can be amplified (or desecrated) by magic. Magic cannot grant you a wish absently, but it can be used as a tool to carve a path towards accomplishing your goals.
The only sovereign law of pursuing wishes is simple:
Start your path. And continue on it.
No matter what.
As time passes, the more you strive to attain your wish, through the proper channels, working hard, studying your obstacles, and planning yourself a clear path to that desire, the easier it will be to acquire.
Investing oneself wholly in that desire is critical, if you don't sincerely care about pursuing your ends, the world around you isn't going to achieve those goals for you. You must see the ending and ternate no deviation.
As you build confidence and overcome obstacles, utilizing patience, reason, and strategy, whatever the cost, you will eventually stand a chance of winning your goal.
The 'magic' aspects of a wishful journey are obscure and subtle, but very important.
As you achieve more, the cosmos will provide more OPTIONS to you. It is then up to you to follow through with those choices-it can be hard to accept the constant changes required by choosing these new paths, but you must decide for yourself, of your own will and desire, whether or not it's worth pursuing that wish in the face of requirements belonging to each new path.
As you cultivate confidence in your path, and the more you make the right choices, or redeem the (inevitable) bad ones in order to return to the path you set yourself, more than further opportunities to advance will present themselves; success with your path breeds a new perspective on life, each experience that got you there will gradually alter your personality, those who fail to pass obstacles and resign their cause will be inclined towards hopelessness and negativity which will mop them down further. Those who get themselves up and push forward relentlessly will acquire confidence, certainty, strength, and a more strategic skill set keyed to help you face, or bypass the obstacles that hampered you previously.
When those positive attributes are attained, the energy around you will change with your perspective. Magic can then be used to magnify that positivity and empower you to further reach your wish (Conversely, it can be used to make negativity more potent and bring down another or oneself).
This form of magic is naturally acquired, occurring gradually over time: it merely galvanizes or drains positive and negative energies. Those energies, in turn, alter perspective and manipulate the outcome of your endeavors. This is how wishes can indirectly utilize magic to master the eventual outcome of ones desire.
Whims, on the other hand, occur when somebody wants something-anything-to satisfy themselves instantaneously, which cannot happen.
By nature we are volatile-if a wish could make you a CEO instantaneously, you would lack the required experiences to maintain the position and would collapse in crumbs. Instantaneous achievement causes more harm than good.
You could go buy a trophy and carve your name in it, a hollow monument to the acievements you never earned-it ultimately breaths in depression, failure, and collapse.
Perhaps this is one of the reasons magic isn't governed by time. Wishesars a tool to help us prevail, not a quick solution.
Direct magic on the other hand; rituals, curses, hexes, blessings, spells, etc-are borne of intent, and directed by the energy already galvanized by understanding the constructs involved. Where 'wishes' are indirect and affect only yourself (you then effect others with what that magic grants you), spells and the like are direct-meant to extract retribution or provide influence over another's life (for good or bad) this, any direct results incurred by the subject of your working fall squarely on your shoulders, and invite magical backlash of varying degrees.
Wishes help us understand ourselves, and develop an understanding of energy. Which we can then direct around ourselves to improve life, and also allows us to understand the energies of others that we seek to affect directly with magic.
I'm sure you invested plenty of positivity in your charm, but on its own it will do you little good. It can amplify your success, radiate positivity, and help you succeed indirectly.
Likewise that 'focusing' of your mind is critical to achieving your wishes; your job is to find where the path to success begins, devoting your focus wholly to that end, subsequently, the invested talisman will then empower positive decisions, making your potential success much more viable.
You wished to get a promotion. You worked towards it. The universe granted you a new opportunity. It's my beliefs that these new oportunities (even if they seem lesser) will provide skills and experience necessary to achieving your eventual wish.
That raw focus directs your energy, focusing on your father and radiating positivity likely invested your father some level of confidence-drawing strength from his loving son-and enabled the added determination to make his own decision to try and get better instead of resigning to his fate.
But, especially now, that energy is volatile, it may work sometimes,nothing may happen, or it may fail horribly; first you must understand your own energy, and yourself, then you can control the forces around you and direct them through yourself to others. That's when direct magic kicks in.
The more intimately you understand yourself, desires, abilities, and drives, the more confident you can be in succeeding at achieving your intent: knowing yourself is to understand energy, and recognize your own-only then can you direct that energy at will with confidence.
My advise is to look inward. Understand yourself. Why you're studying magic. What you hope to attain. And more importantly your individualized energy-which will be used to attain it.