Frequent visualization of your goals actually makes you less likely to achieve them.

Here is an example:

Here is Tom: Tom has a steady job but his true dream is to become a writer.

Whenever Tom has a hard time he imagines one day he will write an amazing book and live Philip Roth style in a secluded writer’s mansion. This technique never fails to soothe him.

One day he mentions his dream to a colleague. She seems rather impressed, which gives insecure Tom a huge boost of confidence.

Soon he learns that if he tells people about his plans of becoming an author they will instantly start to treat him with respect. Just like a real artist.

Colleagues start to call Tom the writer of their team. They ask his advice when composing emails and admire his presentation style.

After months of encouragement Tom finally starts to write his blog. He is sure he’ll write something so pithy that it will go instantly viral.

He sits at his desk, staring at his computer but nothing comes to his mind. He finds writing quite dull and upsetting. He soon finds himself on Facebook. Posts a funny meme on writer’s block. In a few minutes he gets sympathy and positive affirmation. He cheers up and spends the rest of the evening reading articles about writing.

A year passes. Tom reads about writing excessively. He also maintains his blog posting once or twice every month to keep up his identity as a writer. Most of the time he’s content and tries to forget his teenage dream to become a published writer.

Why would he bother? He gets so much validation from real life friends and online amateur writing communities that becoming an actual writer doesn’t seem necessary anymore.

He maintains this state until there is no longer anyone marginally interested in him as a writer. Then he becomes disillusioned with himself and people in general. He becomes a bitter man and develops a belief that the world failed to give a chance to his genius.

Tom has a friend called Sam. Sam is an aspiring writer too. Just like Tom he often struggles with his creative power and has a demanding job aside his writing.

Unlike his friend he mostly keeps his hobby private. He gives himself day-to-day tasks. He’s not at all convinced of his talent, is a disciplined worker and his sense of self-worth comes from trying over and over again. To everyone’s surprise one day Sam gets his book published.

What’s the difference between Tom and Sam?

Tom with all his talking and daydreaming made writing an extrinsic motivation. He started to write solely for the sake of social acceptance. He lived on snacks of daydreaming and social admiration.

As these snacks kept him well-nourished his motivation faded. Subconsciously he feared lose everything, so he decided not even to try.

Sam kept his motivation intrinsic. He made writing his habit. Instead of dreaming about the future he acted and made progress step by step. His writing project became an integral part of his identity. He didn’t let himself snack on worthless things. All the time he was preparing his own full, healthy meal.

Author: Yemi Olarinre