Is your optimism hindering your success?

Man, alone, has the power to transform his thoughts into physical reality; man, alone, can dream and make his dreams come true.
Napoleon Hill
1883 – 1970

You don’t need to do much research to find that optimistic people live longer, enjoy a healthier life and generally fare much better than their pessimistic counterparts. But consider this question: is it possible to be too optimistic? Can your optimism actually hinder your success?

Psychologist Gabriele Oettingen has done extensive research on how optimism influences your ability to achieve your goals. In one study involving women enrolled in weight loss programs, the women who believed they would lose weight lost an average of 26 pounds more than the women who believed they would fail.

But when the study was extended to differentiate between those women who thought losing weight would be easy and those who felt it would require real effort, the results were quite telling: the women who thought it would be difficult lost an average of 24 pounds more than the women who thought it would be easy. The conclusion was that successful people have confidence that they can reach their goals, but they’re equally certain that it won’t be easy to achieve their goals.

So here’s the lesson. Being optimistic is vital; you need to believe that you can reach your goals. But you also have to be realistic about the effort involved to achieve what you want. Any goal that’s worth pursuing will most likely have its fair share of obstacles. If you’ve been honest about the difficulty level, you’ll expect problems and you’ll try harder when you encounter them. If you trivialized the level of difficulty, you’re much more likely to give up.

This mindset is so important and it trips up so many people. They believe their goals will be easy to achieve, so when obstacles appear, they blame themselves for not having what it takes. Those people who start with realistic expectations are prepared when they hit a bump in the road. They don’t blame themselves; they just try harder.

Achieving that mindset is one of the real keys to success. Be optimistic about achieving your goal, but realistic about the difficulty of doing so.

A dream doesn’t become reality through magic; it takes sweat, determination and hard work.
Colin Powell
1937 –

Copyright © 2018 John Chancellor

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