Day 1,147 – Thankful for Remembering to Balance Optimism with Realism

On days like today I’m tempted to write about being thankful for “blogs that help me work out my thoughts.” I’m pretty sure I haven’t written that one in the past 1,512 posts and at some point I probably should. There have been many days when taking the time to pause and reflect has been greatly appreciated. To be able to get my thoughts out through writing leaves my brain feeling more sorted out. Today has been very much in that same vein.

While putting together our strategy and plans for the upcoming year it is a great time to pause and review the past year as well as the several preceding it. As I wrote about a while back I have saved many of my notes and it is great to start with where we’ve been before looking to where we’re going.

As some of you may have noticed I am sometimes an optimist to a fault. I’ll do my best to find the upside of just about any situation and make plans around everything working out perfectly as they happened in my head. As one could imagine this can lead to many great things and more than it’s fair share of mistakes and disappointments.

I can also quickly downshift to being a hardcore realist. Based on past data and indicators I can find reasoning to prove how something is likely to work out. This isn’t nearly as uplifting and can lead to additional stress, but it also tends to save me from horrible mistakes.

Finding balance between these two mindsets has been a huge challenge for me. My optimistic brain can dream up some pretty amazing best case scenarios and dreams. My read list focused brain can find one hundred ways that something can and will most likely fail. My optimistic brain causes me to have blind spots and rush into mistakes. My realist brain can scare me away from making the big decision that may make all the difference.

Over the past day I’ve been in spots in which my realist brain was the right one to listen to and others in which my optimistic brain was the right one. I need to spend more time reflecting on how I choose which brain style to start in and how and when to engage the other. Today there were times when I was able to bounce between both and made some tremendous progress. I would love to say it happened naturally, but in reality it only happened when I paused and reminded myself to look at the situation through both brains. When that happened it was wonderful to see the two sides create together.

Optimist Brain: What about this crazy goal?

Realist Brain: Hmm… Remember how last time you tried this and failed, thrived that and it didn’t work out, and then the other one worked out? What should that tell you about this crazy goal?

Optimist Brain: Oh… I kind of forgot about that one. Dang, that really sucked. I did learn this though and if I change this other piece too…

Realist Brain: Hmm… That might actually work out. You did this once before and then you did that a different time. Hell, let’s give it a shot!

It is still far from feeling natural, but I am so thankful for remembering to take the time to listen to both brains today. I’m confident that the goals we set will be much more on track thanks to both sides being present in the discussion.


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