I was listening to a Google talk given by Stanford Lecturer and Health Psychologist Kelly McGonigal on willpower. She asked a room full of uber-bright Google employees which scenario was optimal in achieving a desired result: imagining your success or imaging your failure. The majority of Google hands went up on “imagining your success” to which she said, “you are such Americans.”
And yes, we unwittingly are. But let us embrace our more pessimistic sides. Studies show that when people are optimistic about achieving their desired outcomes, they are far more likely to quit when the going gets tough. They are also more likely to quit when the going gets just fine. Conversely, people who imagine their failure, or are primed for it, are more likely to persevere in the face of adversity, as well as in the face of success and just okayness.