Everyone says it—think positive! Imagine yourself at your goal and it will happen! Visualize success and success will come to you!

It can get…annoying.

Plus, it can work against you.

A new study published in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology looked at whether fantasizing about future success energizes people or weakens them and the results would surprise all those visualization gurus, I expect.

The study compared energy levels in people who fantasized positive, questionable, negative, and neutral outcomes. The psychologists also compared the energy levels induced by these fantasies depending on the level of need that the outcome be successful.

The results: “positive fantasies resulted in less energy” than any of the other fantasies and the decrease in energy was more marked when the need was greater!

What energized the test subjects most? Visualizing the obstacles to their goals.

Now, we’re not saying that you don’t need to see your goals clearly and be constantly moving toward them. But there seems to be a bigger benefit to imagining the things that might make them difficult than imagining that you have already achieved them.

Give it a try: think of a goal and why it is important that you achieve it. Now think of the three biggest things in your way. Finding strategies for getting past those hurdles may very well be the difference between success and failure.

Get to it!

Wendy Stackhouse, for Artisan Creative