Are you an optimist or a pessimist? While many people consider these the only two filters by which to see the world, there is a third, more practical approach, known as “realistic optimism.”
Realistic optimists take a clear-eyed view of circumstances and challenges. Instead of assuming that everything will simply work out in the end, realistic optimists address problems head-on and work to overcome difficulties using a practical, solution-focused approach.
If your worldview could benefit from a dose of realistic optimism, try these tips:
- Take action. Break a problem or goal into steps. While focusing on one step at a time may feel more productive, there may be situations where you must chip away at multiple steps simultaneously. The key is to maintain momentum and keep moving forward.
- Give your best effort. If you define success as achieving a goal with no room for any other possible outcome, you may be disappointed, particularly in competitive situations. Instead, focus on giving your best effort and learning all you can along the way.
- Let go. While you can control your own planning and effort, you can’t control the actions of others or unforeseen circumstances, such as disasters, injury, illness, or financial challenges. Accepting that some things are beyond your control may help you adapt to and rebound from setbacks.
- Look for alternatives. If it appears that your initial plan will not succeed, consider pivoting to a backup plan or reworking your goal. Stay open to opportunities.
- Ask why. Realistic optimists aren’t afraid to take a step back and consider if they are still on the right path. This helps them adapt more effectively to changing circumstances. It also allows them to grow in new directions rather than fixating on one specific outcome.
By tempering your positive outlook with a dose of realistic optimism, you may feel more contented with where life’s journey takes you.