Think Positively — Not Unrealistically

If you read this blog with any regularity, you know that, as your career mentor,  I am a big believer in the power of positive thinking.  That’s why articles like the one below always catch my attention.

I agree that “dreaming isn’t doing,” and that predicting obstacles is a good way to make sure that you are prepared to deal with them when they come up.

I also agree that critical thinking and caution are important parts of goal setting and goal attainment.

I don’t agree that tension and negative thinking are the same.  Every team should engage in constructive debate.  That’s tension.  Negative thinking has nothing to do with debate, it is a defeatist attitude that will make it difficult for a team to succeed.

I buy the 2/3 positive, 1/3 negative argument, although I would put it another way.  Positive thinking gets you going and keeps you moving.  Anticipating problems makes it easier to stay positive when you encounter them.  I may be getting overly semantic here, but anticipating problems isn’t negative thinking.  It’s being realistic.

I found the fifth point about visualizing your death to be just plain bizarre.  On the other hand, I do think that reflecting on the problems and obstacles you have overcome on your way to achieving a goal, makes you fee more grateful — and positive — about the results.

In short, most of the articles I see on negative thinking — like this one — suggest that positive thinking alone is not enough for success.  Of course this is true.  If you want to succeed at anything you have to first set a clear, realistic goal.  Then you need to believe you can reach that goal — that’s positive thinking.  Then you have to do the work necessary to achieve your goal — that’s positive thinking in action.

To my way of thinking, anticipating obstacles, thinking through how you will reach the goal, engaging in constructive debate with colleagues and being grateful for your successes isn’t negative thinking.  Doing all of these things means that you’re being realistic — and optimism coupled with realism is a recipe for success.

Your career mentor,


PS: You can download a free copy of my popular book, Your Success GPS at  When you do, I’ll begin sending you daily motivational quotes and give you a free basic membership in my career mentoring site.


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