I grew up very conflicted because my teachers always stressed, “follow your dreams” and being raised by immigrant Indian parents, I was told that the only dreams I would be following are the ones they (my parents) have for me.
Regardless, I have always been an avid dreamer and an optimist to a flaw. Living up to my optimistic nature, I always saw my day dreaming and optimism as a positive trait–I’ll always be happy.
Psychologists; however, beg to differ! Research shows that daydreaming about future success can be detrimental.
A study by Oettingen and Mayer (2002) found that people who fantasize did worse in making their fantasies come true!
The researchers first distinguished between expectations and fantasy. They held that expectations are based on previous experiences (e.g., my brownies will turn out great because they always do) while fantasies are based on hopes and expectations.
Subjects were given four challenges: getting a job, finding a partner, doing well in an exam and undergoing surgery.
Psychologists compiled data about what people thought about these challenges and measured how much each subject fantasized and expected a positive outcome.
Researchers found that those who spent more time day dreaming put less effort into achieving the goal and as a result, had disappointing outcomes. Those who had more negative fantasies were more likely to reach their goals.
What does this mean? The harder you dream about marrying Megan Fox, the more likely it’s NOT going to happen!
But why are fantasies bad? Because they create a fairy tale of an idealized outcome that doesn’t account for problems or reality.
Take home message: If you want to succeed–don’t day dream and remember: The only way to make your dreams come true is to wake up!