Setting goals and working to achieve them is an inherently optimistic exercise: You want more and better, and you believe that you have what it takes to do the work and reap the rewards. But sometimes showing your pessimistic side can help you achieve your goals faster.
As Art Markman writes for Fast Company, planning is a crucial component of achieving any objective. You should have specific steps and tasks in mind that you need to accomplish along the path to your goal. And your pessimism can help you with that.
How so? Well, Markman writes,
Next time you are contemplating an important goal (of your own or someone else’s), release that pessimist and let it run wild. Find all of the things that will go wrong. After all, if you really do try to achieve this goal, the obstacles really are likely to be out there.
Once you’ve thought through all the potential hurdles you’ll run into, you can plan to circumvent them.
But don’t start planning for just any potential obstacle. You should embrace your pessimism, yes, but still be realistic. Markman writes that the first step is to go through your obstacles and cross off the ones that aren’t likely to occur so that they don’t take up your time and mental energy.
Then, “think about the ones that could have the biggest negative impact on your goals — particularly if there is a substantial chance that they are out there. Those are the ones to address first.” What can you do to overcome these obstacles?
No one likes a pessimist, but sometimes they’re best suited for the job. So embrace it, and use it to your advantage.
This article has been updated since its original publication.