Various studies have shown that engaging in ‘positive fantasies,’ or idealized images of future outcomes, makes you less likely to achieve them. Now a new study from New York University’s Motivation Lab sheds insight on why: Imagining these successful outcomes saps our energy from doing the hard work it takes to get there.
What’s the Big Idea?
It’s not that praise and positive reinforcement are a bad idea—people need to be reminded that a goal is at least possible. As the researchers, if relaxation is your goal—you’re stressed about a big presentation or filled with dread over an important meeting—positive images can help you lower the energy you’re exerting and potentially perform better. But less-positive fantasies, ‘those that question whether an ideal future can be achieved, and that depict obstacles, problems and setbacks—should be more beneficial for mustering the energy needed to attain actual success.”