I’m an optimist by nature — I usually expect things will all work out. But I find that I’m more successful and experience less disappointment when I practice “thinking negative.” What do I mean by that?
When I “think negative,” I factor into my habitual “positive thinking” a realistic assessment of the difficulties, challenges or obstacles that may be in front of me. I attempt to understand any potential risks or pitfalls in my path. Wherever I’m headed, whatever my goals might be, I can’t afford to be unreservedly positive.
There are several clear advantages to “negative thinking,” including:
♦ When you’re focused on “thinking positive,” you may not be adequately prepared for the challenges of your journey, and therefore fail to meet them successfully.
♦ Thinking through the negatives keeps you from being overly surprised or disappointed when things don’t go as you’d hoped or planned.
♦ You are more likely to avoid magical thinking. (Magical thinking is common in writers, by the way. For example: “I WILL meet my deadline, I will, I will!” As the deadline flies right by.)
♦ If you can honestly acknowledge possible negatives and keep going, then you’re probably on a path that’s right for you.
♦ When you’re realistic about potential challenges, you are often pleasantly surprised at the smoothness of your path.
♦ If you’re “thinking positive,” you may be inclined to think your path is going to be easier than it really is, so you won’t allow enough time to accomplish the goal, and you may not have enough diligence or discipline to get it done.
There are countless ways to apply “negative thinking” to the writing life:
♦ Instead of telling yourself simply, “I’m going to get published,” you realistically assess the obstacles and tell yourself, “I’m going to work hard, be persistent, and bust through all the barriers, and eventually get published.”
♦ Instead of telling yourself, “I know thousands of people are going to want to buy my book,” you look at how many people publish books with little success, then determine, “I’m going to pull out all the stops marketing my book so that anyone who might like it will have the opportunity to buy it.”
Don’t get me wrong — I’m not disputing the value of positive thinking. I do it all the time! But the key to success is realistic optimism — what I’ve been referring to here as “thinking negative.” Bring reality into your positive thinking, for a much brighter chance of reaching your goals.
Try “Thinking Negative” for a Change. Click to Tweet.
“Think negative” for a better chance of reaching your goals. Click to Tweet.
When you’re focused on thinking positive, you may not be prepared for challenges. Click to Tweet.
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