How Being An Optimist Is Holding You Back
There’s a mountain of evidence to support the idea that we need to believe in ourselves to achieve our goals. It’s true, too. We should approach our goals with a positive attitude and belief in success. But being an optimist can be a double-edged sword.
The Downside Of Being An Optimist
Researchers in Japan studied the psychological profiles of over 100 obese patients attending a weight loss clinic. They found that participants with some negative emotions associated with their obesity were more likely to be victorious at losing and maintaining weight. Researchers theorized that patients with negative feelings about their condition are more likely to implement change.
Called optimism bias, this is the tendency to overestimate the outcome of an action.
According to my friends, I’m especially susceptible to this behaviour. I overestimate the number of tasks I can complete in a given amount of time. Colour me guilty.
Extended research into this topic has proven it to be a regular occurrence.
Being an optimist only increases the likelihood. It stems from the failure to remember that the world could be better when making predictions, thereby setting unrealistic expectations.
We have a multitude of examples to point to in our daily lives:
- Who bought a treadmill after making a New Year’s resolution to become a clothes-hanger?
- Ever build or remodel a house and have the work take longer than expected?
- Despite the high divorce rate, nearly all newlyweds expect to spend their entire lives together.
- Most smokers believe they’ll be less likely to develop a smoking-related illness.
Now, I’m not saying being an optimist is terrible. It’s a great personality trait. But the ability to set realistic expectations will drastically increase your satisfaction and odds of achieving your goals.