There’s nothing wrong with fantasizing about the success that awaits us in the future, right? Envisioning the good things that will come as a result of our hard work will just provide fuel for our present-day efforts—that makes sense, doesn’t it? Nope.
Ph.D. Art Markman wrote an article on this in 2013 for Psychology Today; it describes recent studies that show “thinking about the benefits of success can actually make you less likely to achieve your goals.”
Let’s think about some success fantasies that many of us have indulged in:
Why do fantasies reduce motivation? The theory is that we gain a measure of satisfaction from the fantasies themselves; enough to take the edge off of our drive. Markman says, “Ultimately, it is better to focus on the difficulties that lie ahead when faced with a difficult task. It may not be pleasant to think about the problems you will face, but it will make you more likely to get past those barriers.”
Maybe there’s one thing it’s safe to fantasize about—winning the lottery. No amount of effort will increase your chances by more than the tiniest of smidgens, so go ahead and daydream about what you’re going to do with all that money.