We are exposed to it time and time again, and yet, every separate occurrence it seems as if we may have never been informed of it prior to our most recent experience.
Life has a tendency to not give a sh*t about our plans
We try to be as cognizant to our surroundings as possible. We try to account for variables; possible outcomes; and the like, but life may prefer to veto your original blueprint in lieu of it’s most recent “etch-a-sketch” of what your experience should entail.
It is for this reason, that I tell everyone, that in whatever change you are attempting to make, just know that it WILL take LONGER expected. Because SOMETHING will happen. I cannot tell you what it is–just be confident that it will. Not to sound like some esoteric palm reader, but I see it often enough to make an educated guess, that your “vision of success” rarely matches what reality has in store for you.
The Unrealistic Optimist
We are often told of the benefits of being optimistic; a lot of which is true. For example, practicing optimism boasts benefits such as longer life, resilience, happiness, athleticism, better job opportunities, etc. almost ANYTHING equated with success can be associated with maintaining a positive attitude. This partly why, more often than not, I search for silver linings, buried lessons, and try to envision the best possible outcomes–I have become a practitioner of a seemingly very useful skill. But this does not mean that I forego my diet of skepticism and scrutiny in light of blue skies and sunny days.
Because optimism without regard for failure is best defined as ignorance–and for some, blissfully so.
Yet, even with what we know to be true, we STILL attempt “change” with rose colored spectacles. We somehow fool ourselves into believing that everything will go as expected and our faith, will, motivation, or lack of skill will somehow remain undaunted–never wavering for a moment.
A common example of this is when we decide to lose that “spare tire” or “pouch” that seems to have taken up occupancy around our midsections. We believe that we will workout five days a week, disregarding our lack of effort over the previous three months. We will start to “eat clean” (whatever that means), and pass on our evening ritual of ice cream followed by a glass of wine. We never, for a moment, think about the reality of our situation. And this can be likened to premeditated failure, which leads to apathy or a reluctance to try again.
But why do we behave in this way, even when we KNOW that this is, almost certainly, a recipe for disaster?
“Dreaming Big” Feels REALLY Good
When we make elaborate plans to achieve success, and envision ourselves doing it, we feel good about ourselves…REALLY good. But why did we decided to make such elaborate plans to begin with? Taking a closer look at the reason why we decided to change in the first place, can give us some insight into why we are so prone to setting ourselves up for failure.
When we think about what we DON’T like about ourselves we get stressed out. And when we get stressed out we search for relief, and often times this can come in the form of vice. For example, when someone that smokes get’s into a heated argument, they tend to grab a smoke to “blow off steam”, or when we have had a stressful day at work, we see if we can get off early enough to catch happy hour before it ends. There is an immediate level of gratification that satisfies our need to find some normalcy or a level of comfort, but rarely (if ever) do these “solutions” solve our problems. They simply provide us with a means to cope.
Setting elaborate, unrealistic goals can have the same effect. As I noted before when we, in effect, “dream big” we feel virtuous. We feel REALLY good. We get a shot of awe inspiring hope and this can leave us feeling invigorated and motivated. We do this in response to undesirable feelings about a certain aspect of who we are or circumstances in our life, otherwise why would we even entertain the thought of changing…right? In other words, we get “stressed” and this leads us to seek relief, and the “solution” most appropriate to resolve these negative feelings, is to “DREAM BIG”–and the bigger the dream, the better we feel.
So am I saying that we should NOT “DREAM BIG”? Not by any means. But I AM saying that “dreaming big” without context for how such idea should be applied is foolish.
A Better Way to “Dream Big”
Big dreams have an uncanny way of inspiring motivation–and that is something that can prove to be a catalyst to create change when we need it most. But big dreams without direction and a practice in discipline and resolve will soon transform into angst, lethargy, and discontent. So below are three strategies you can use to “Dream Big” better.
One: Get a Healthy Dose of Pessimism
Pessimism is often seen in a negative light, and when pessimism swings too far in one direction, such as the proverbial Debbie Downers and Negative Nancys (or Neds) of the world, it is most certainly an annoyance to experience. But pessimism has its benefits. According to some studies pessimism is correlated with longer marriages, more productivity, and longer lives. The trick is applying pessimism to identify, understand, and plan for your potential downfall. Which leads us to our next strategy.
Two: Plan To Fail
Failure is not the exception, it is the rule. Write this down and reference it every time you resolve to change something. When we plan for our missteps, the failure itself becomes apart of our strategy for change. We become better equipped to deal disasters, trials, and tribulations. It also gives us a level of control, which can bolster your confidence in yourself to complete what you set out to accomplish.
Three: Falling Down is Not So Bad, As Long As You GET BACK UP
Enough cannot be said for cultivating a mindset that does not allow you to wallow in your sorrow. When we encounter experiences that do not favor us, or our situation, being able to regain composure and move forward is the hallmark of every success story you are likely to hear. Our ability to be resilient despite unfavorable circumstances is what being “optimistic” is all about.