The Negative Effects of Positive Fantasies

By Nicolas Gurley
We always look to the future and anticipate what will happen, and it is important to do so. When making plans for the future, to successfully accomplish our goals, it is helpful to mentally go through the things that could go wrong. Such a process can enable us to prepare and figure out how we will overcome obstacles that keep us from achieving our goals. However, when we think forward to our future, we often like to also focus on our potential success.
We like to look forward to that feeling of self satisfaction when we reap the rewards of our success. However, a research project conducted by Gabriele Oettingen and her colleagues has shown that thinking ahead about the benefits of our potential success can actually make us less likely to succeed in achieving our goals. This would be because these positive fantasies are likely to reduce how much effort we put into the task at hand.
The understanding of the results provided by such studies is that if we spend a lot of time fantasizing about our success, we might preemptively start to experience some of the satisfaction that should normally come with actually achieving the goals in question. As you can imagine, it is hard to really motivate yourself to work our hardest to achieve a goal for which we are already experiencing the benefits.
Ultimately, it is always better to focus on the difficulties that we are likely to encounter when thinking of a difficult goal we want to set for ourselves. Thinking about potential problems we will be faced with is far less pleasant than fantasizing about the rewards, however, it makes us better prepared and therefor more likely to overcome the obstacles in our way. If you would like to further discuss methods and strategies to make yourself more likely to succeed in achieving your goals please contact me at or you can call me at 917-525-2205 x9.

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