I think human beings are optimistic creatures, almost to a fault. We get excited about something, and we work on it, believing that everything is going to turn out perfectly, without any effort, or with very little effort, time, and money invested. In this article, I speak about the relation between optimism and realism.
The hopefulness is a good thing. Optimism is absolutely a ‘positive’ quality to have (no pun intended). It is overly optimistic people who end up believing in their own power to make change, and end up creating impact on this planet. If the entrepreneurs of the past and present did not believe that they had the capacity to influence the world, if they didn’t run with that positivity, they wouldn’t have lifted a finger to make their dreams come true.
But everything has to be gauged with a sort of filtered optimism. Yes, be optimistic, believe that everything is possible, and everything is going to turn out roses and butterflies.
And then pour on a little bit of realism onto those roses and butterflies, to turn them into lily pads and caterpillars. A healthy dose of realism along with a dollop of optimism is the true recipe to success in any endeavour.
I Start Off Every Project Knowing It’s Going To Flop At First
You might think that the title of this section is rather dire and depressing. But I have had enough experiences with new projects to know that the initial enthusiasm that you put into a new idea will never last all of the way through to the end. It is absolutely not a straight line from point A to point B, and that’s what people tend to forget.
When I start a project, I am absolutely smashingly gung ho about it. Wow, it’s going to be awesome, it’s going to make me millions, I can’t believe I didn’t think of this earlier, etc.
And that’s a good start. That positive bursting-with-life energy is what is needed in order to begin anything new. Otherwise, human beings are lazy, and they wouldn’t be able to muster up enough enthusiasm to begin anything that takes them out of their comfort zone.
So, you start with the enthusiasm and positivity that bubbles over out of you. And then you temper it all with a huge dose of realism. Just pour that stuff in as if it were water. You can never have enough water. And you can never have enough realism.
When You Are Bringing Realism In, You Are Actually Thinking Of What Could Go Wrong
The point of bringing in your realism A-game is to understand the SWOT analysis of your plans. What are the weaknesses of your plan? What could go wrong? And what are the things that could stall your plan in some way?
All of this gives you a better idea of what is actually going to happen with your plan.
For example, you might decide to import tea cups from Japan to USA, and sell them on Etsy. Great idea. You might have done some research and weirdly enough, no one sells tea cups on Etsy. Yes! Let’s fill that gap. And then you need to spend thinking about everything that could go wrong. The tea cups could all break while shipping to USA. The tea cups could not be strong enough and break while the customer is pouring hot liquid into them. Maybe, people don’t sell tea cups on Etsy because no one actually wants to buy them.
You might decide after all of this, that there is still a market for it. But at least if any of those scenarios come up, you will have thought about it already and you will be better prepared for it, rather than being hit with it on a Saturday evening while out with your family.
Everything Needs More Of Everything, Time, Money, Effort
Finally, after the dose of realism, you also have to realize that if you decided to invest $5000 into something hoping to make it back within a year, it is highly likely that you will end up spending twice that, and waiting maybe 2-3 years for your investment to give fruit.
Sometimes your ideas never bear fruit, and you wait like a patient little snail, doing your thing, working your idea, and nothing happens.
You wait a little bit more, you put in a little more effort, and again nothing happens.
You change strategy, and you move around the chess pieces of your plan, but then something happens, but small. And that’s when you realize that your plan was absolutely useless, and it always takes longer and costs more for anything to happen, no matter what it might be.
A book that you are writing will take longer to write than expected.
A new instrument that you are learning to play will absolutely take longer than you want, and will be more frustrating than you expect.
If only, we could be wiser, and realize this. If only, we could put this extended period of time, money and effort into our plan, we wouldn’t be surprised by it every single time.
Even though, I know this lesson, as I have learned it over and over again, I still make the mistake of underestimating the time, money, and effort I will need to get fruition on the new projects I start.
It’s the disease of optimistic people, perhaps. We are just too hopeful.
But now that you know, maybe you can start applying this wisdom into everything new you do.