“Starry-eyed dreaming isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.” (Gabriele Oettimgen), as seen on the Jack’s Winning Words blog. Jack went on to write – G.O. has written a book, “Rethinking Positive Thinking.” In it she is saying that ”wishing will not make it so.” There are obstacles when it comes to turning dreams into reality…home, work, life in general. She suggests that we set for ourselves a desired future and then work at setting a path toward achieving it.
I suppose that there is a fine line somewhere between optimism and starry-eyed dreaming, just as there is between realism and pessimism on the negative side of life. Gabriele’s advice, which might come under the heading of common sense, wanders back and forth across the big line between the positive and the more negative (some might say the realistic) and that’s OK because I believe that we spend our lives wandering back and forth across that line. The trick is not to wander too far one way or the other.
There are dangers at the extremes of both attitudes – positive and negative. At the edges of optimism is the trap of starry-eyed dreaming, which wastes our time and accomplished nothing; and on the other side of the big line, just beyond the realistic is pessimism, which can lead to depression or worse. One could, I suppose, make a case for starry-eyed dreaming being less dangerous than pessimism; however, both are a waste of energy, mental and otherwise. Unlike the rules about not crossing the solid line on the pavement while driving, it’s OK to wander back and forth across the line between optimism and realism, just don’t go too far and get off into the ditches of starry-eyed dreaming or depressing pessimism.
Gabriele’s advice to envision a desired future and then lay out a plan to get there is consistent with every other piece of advice from so-called life coaches that I’ve ever seen. Whole books have been written about how to do that, so you can read Gabriele’s book or find tons of others in the “Self-Help” section of the bookstore or library. Most of us tend to prefer the positive side of things, so we might gravitate towards the books based upon more optimistic points of view. Books written by scientists tend to hew a line closer to the middle; while books by survivalists and other fringe groups from the negative side might focus upon strategies to make it through the predicted apocalypse. If Utopia is the envisioned destination of optimists, then Armageddon seems to be the predicted future for pessimists. While neither extreme outcome is likely, I’d sooner be striving towards Utopia than the alternative.
I might sum up much of this advice (at least from the more positive side of things) by stating that it is important to take control of your life, have a plan and work towards your goals. If you do those three things with a positive attitude in general, you will find yourself wandering back and forth across the line between optimism and realism but
your journey will always be guided by the bright star of hope rather than the dark star of fear. It’s not that you will become a starry-eyed dreamer, but rather that you will become an unstoppable do-er. You will become known to friends and family as a problem-solver, a go-to guy/gal, the one who will succeed. Friends, family and co-workers will see you as someone to be emulated. Have you ever heard that about a pessimist? I haven’t.
So, go ahead and have your dreams; just make sure that you also have a path laid out to get to the ones that you have converted from dreams to goals and a positive attitude of hope to guide you along the way. Hopefully I’ll meet you along the way. Maybe we’ll even be going in the same direction and be on the same side of the line between optimism and realism. And if you see me headed for the ditches on either side, hook your horn to wake me up; I’ve obviously wandered too far. I’ll do the same for you.
Have a realistically optimistic day!