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Be a realistic optimist

In my past blogs I have spoken about visualizing the life you want and going after it with fierce passion. Whether it be in defining a Big Hairy Audacious Goal , taking a leap to start a business, or sitting down and just picturing what life looks like in 5, 10 or 25 years – I shared my view that if you can visualize it you are one step closer to it becoming real. This past week I received an article from a friend that made a very important point that I wanted to share: Visualize success, but be sure to take note of the hard work, planning and effort it will take you to get there.

In Harvard Business Review’s blog on Be an optimist without being a fool they say that “visualizing “effortless success” is not only unhelpful, it is disastrous. When I first read this I was shocked. Visualizing has been one of the best tools I have used in my life planning. So I read it again. And then I saw it…the word effortless. What does visualizing effortless success look like ? Winning the proverbial “lottery” came to mind. Believing that one day a magic fairy would just appear and poof, you would have the life of our dreams ! Unfortunately, it’s not that easy.

It turns out my fiance Mark already knew this. In my last post I spoke about my BHAG – completing a half Iron man this summer. Over the last 6 months I have enthusiastically told my friends and family “I am going to do a half Ironman” and before I could take the next breath Mark would pop in and say “and it’s going to take a lot of hard work and training.” Success comes with hard work, while believing whole heartedly that you will achieve your goal.

Harvard Business Review blog summarized it perfectly when they said: “to be successful, you need to understand the vital difference between believing you will succeed, and believing you will succeed easily.” “It’s the difference between being a realistic optimist and an unrealistic optimist. Realistic optimists believe they will succeed, but also believe they have to make success happen — through things like effort, careful planning, persistence, and choosing the right strategies. They recognize the need for giving serious thought to how they will deal with obstacles. This preparation only increases their confidence in their own ability to get things done.”

I really like their call out about giving serious thought on how to deal with obstacles. What will you do if you get injured? If you run out of money ? If you can’t find the final puzzle piece to your plan. Just like in business, planning for success means managing risk and having a plan B. A risk management tool we use at work is to list out the things that could happen and then put together a plan for each one should they occur. This way if the risk comes to bare you can act with calm and precise action to keep you moving forward.

As you visualize your goal, believe that it WILL happen, and ALWAYS remember that it will take hard work, carefully planning and persistence. Then do it. Success comes from taking action, not just talking about action.

About Martha van Berkel

Martha is the co-founder of Marketing Technology company - Hunch Manifest. She likes to fire up customer adoption and disrupting industries! She is a entrepreneur and a Mom!

2 Responses to “Be a realistic optimist”

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