The Difference between Optimism and Fantasy Thinking

Do you remember the fuss about the movie and book The Secret and the Law of Attraction? The basic theory presented was that if you get your mind in the right place, everything you need will just show up. I was amazed at how many people I met were absolutely sure they were going to win the lottery.

Long before The Secret came out, I did endless affirmations, created and hung a treasure map where I could see it every day, and imagined I was acting as if I was wealthy.

I was also training myself to stop worrying, criticizing myself, and complaining, and I was cultivating an attitude of gratitude.

Did money come flying in the window? Did I suddenly have a lot of customers?

Actually, I did. I quickly made a lot of money. But because I didn’t understand the realities of business and money management, I wound up going bankrupt.

My optimism helped, but it was fantasy thinking that did me in. I had no idea that running a business required specific skills such as money management, personnel management, and basic how-to-run-a-business techniques.

Over the course of many years, as I developed business-building and money-management skills along with the thoughts, beliefs and emotions that could sustain financial comfort,  I built an enduring business that supported me nicely. What I learned, is that it takes a lot more than positive thinking to build wealth.

In order to develop and sustain financial comfort, mindset is important. And so are the real-world skills you need to deal with increasingly large sums of money.

Optimism, self-love, self-trust, generosity, gratitude, and many more internal attributes do contribute to prosperity, but it’s a fantasy if you think the rewards are automatic.

Here are some facts that can counteract fantasy thinking and allow optimism to help you build a comfortable life for yourself.

1. Money is not the key to prosperity. Prosperity is a state of mind as much as a financial position, and money doesn’t automatically cure discomforts such as low self-worth and loneliness. Money does not ensure happiness. You can have happiness and high self-worth without having to earn and manage a lot of money.

2. If you develop practical money-management skills, such as basic record keeping, you will learn to trust yourself with increasingly large amounts of money. That trust combined with the financial skills can enable you to create a healthy cash flow.

3. In order to create financial comfort through a business or professional practice, you have to understand the marketplace and learn to present your offerings in a way that will attract buyers. If you hate sales and marketing and avoid them like the plague, your chances of success are minimal, no matter what your level of optimism.

4. Successful business owners are able to recover from inevitable mistakes. Very few ventures build rapidly with no downturns. The downturns are not bad or failures, they are merely indications from the marketplace that you need to adjust your offerings.

5. It pays to have a healthy balance between optimism and scepticism so you can counteract the tendencies to make impulsive decisions with practical assessments of your ideas.

6. Asking for help from others who have more experience than you do is always a good idea. Watch what Eric Schmidt, CEO of Google, has to say about having a coach.