#114 Mental Contrasting

The Science of Turning Dreams into Action

In one of our earlier +1s we talked about one of my favorite ideas: WOOP!

Before Gabrielle Oettingen came up with the fully-baked WOOP process, she was researching the effects of dreaming and fantasizing about your ideal life.

To her disappointment, she found that simply dreaming and fantasizing about all the awesome you hoped to see in your life DIDN’T work. It relaxed people too much and they didn’t take enough action to make those dreams a reality.

So, she tested different things to see what DID work and realized that she needed to help people contrast their dreams with the realities of what might get in the way of making those dreams come to life.

She called this process “mental contrasting.”

She says: “If I could ground fantasies in a reality through mental contrasting, I might be able to circumvent the calming effects of dreaming and mobilize dreams as a tool for prompting directed action.”

Mental contrasting. It works. Really well.

Today’s +1: Let’s practice it.

Think of a goal you’d like to achieve. Imagine achieving it. (Congrats!) Feel good about it.


VERY IMPORTANTLY: Think about what might get in the way of you achieving that goal. Yep. That challenge. And that one. And…

That “mental contrasting” of the hoped-for benefits and the obstacles we know we’ll face creates something scientists call a “necessity to act”—which is essential for actually achieving your goals.

Again, mere wishing or dreaming relaxes you too much. The mental contrasting fires you up to do something. That’s a good thing. (But only if actually achieving your goals is as important to you as visualizing your goals. 😃)

Couple other notes: When you do the mental contrasting, you may actually decide to DISENGAGE from your goal—discovering that the challenges are just too great for you to achieve what you want. The price is too high. You don’t want to pay it. That’s GREAT!!! Much better to go through the process of confronting reality at the beginning of the process and choose to pull back on a goal than go after something that’s just not going to happen, eh?

Mental contrasting.

Try it out! Let’s master the process of turning our dreams into action and then into reality.

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