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Why visualizing your goals isn't helping you (and what you can do about it)

In this blogette (a quick, short blog you can read whilst you snatch a quick cuppa), I'll show you why visualizing your goals is not much better than daydreaming about eating cheese on the moon. Thankfully, I've got a way of solving the problem - all will be revealed later.


It seems that all that advice from countless self help books, gurus and my granny* to visualize my goals in great detail haven't been helping me buy a summer house in the Maldives, and a luxury car after all.


Here comes the sciency bit

In one study, (and many other suggested the same result) students were asked to write down how often they visualized getting their dream job after graduation. Two years later, the students who had spent the most time daydreaming had made fewer job applications, got less job offers and smaller salaries than their peers.

But why can this be? (I hear you cry)

Researchers think that fantasizing about achieving our goals is counter-productive and can make us more likely to give up when we start hitting the inevitable setbacks. 


Thankfully my friends, there's something we can do about it (backed up with more research) and this is what we need to do instead


Happy goal setting and visualizing

Find somewhere comfortable for a little lie down and visualizing of our yummy goals. 

1. Think of a goal you want to achieve and spend a couple minutes thinking of the two top benefits to your life of achieving this wonderous goal.

2., Next think of the two top barriers or problems you might need to overcome to get to this goal.

3. Go back to thinking of your goal and the tip top benefit. Enjoy. Then spend a few moments thinking of the top barrier and what you might do to overcome this problem.

4.Repeat the same procedure (as in point 3) for the second benefit and problem.

So now by really living your goal in your mind, you've got heaps of motivation. And because you're warned yourself to accept that it might not be plain sailing you're starting to find a few strategies to deal with problems that lie ahead, that it's all part of the process of achieving your goals.

*My granny often came up with great advice. My other fav of hers was "You've got to get with it." My granny was a real party goer and always felt you had to throw yourself into things

The experiment referred to in this blogette carried out by Gabriele Oettingen and Thomas Wadden University of Pennsylvania