To be cautiously optimistic requires having balance and peace within yourself. You need to know how to see that the best is yet to come while seeing things for what they are. When you are too optimistic, you can't build effective plans. When you are too realistic, you don't dream big enough.

Life is almost always about balance. A great example is being introverted vs. being extroverted. Not many people would argue that either is right all of the time. You need to be a bit of both if you want to be successful. The same is true when it comes to whether you should have optimism or be realistic.

I know I can hear you already screaming at me for implying that being optimistic is not always the best way. I used to share your perspective, but I also know how harmful it can be for a variety of reasons, and that is where we will start. You won't learn how to wake up early, if you keep listening to your negative voices. 

When you face the reality that you are not as good as you need to be, you can make the changes you need to make today so you can continue to be optimistic in the future.

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Why You Need to Be Cautiously Optimistic

Optimism is great when it's used in the right amounts at the right time. Otherwise, confidence can be damaging because it often can avoid reality.

For example, you could say that you are going to make the NBA, but the reality may be that today, you do not have NBA level skill. For that reason, and that reason alone, you will never make it to the NBA.

If you move forward telling yourself, "I know I will make it" you put your dream at risk. It's much easier to live in a very optimistic world. It is also easy to live in a pessimistic world, but it is hard to live in a REAL WORLD.

When you face the reality that you are not as good as you need to be, you can make the changes you need to make today so you can continue to be optimistic in the future.

  • Too much optimism can hold you back 
  • You need a realistic view of where you are in order to improve

Without Being Cautiously Optimistic, You Put Your Work Ethic In Danger

There are a lot of times when people should be working their butts off, but instead, they are just relaxing on what they think they will achieve in the future. If you are optimistic that the future will be great, it hurts your ability to put in the work today.

That is why you see many entrepreneurs who take off with their businesses once they get fired from their jobs. They are not optimistic after being fired! They are worried about the fact that they have no income and that they need to make something work.

Their realism gets them off of their buts and into a place of discomfort. The discomfort forces growth and growth is what allows you to achieve your dreams. By being cautiously optimistic, you force yourself to rely on your work ethic in the moment.

  • There is no time to relax for your dream
  • Being uncomfortable is what raises people to new levels
  • Tough situations bring out the best in you because you have no choice

Optimism Works Well For The Future

If you are going to be optimistic use it for the future. Be confident for a beautiful tomorrow because of how hard you work today. That is how optimism pulls you forward in life. Use the rewards you seek tomorrow to motivate you to change and grow today. When you are seeking something like how to wake up early, the motivation comes from knowing how much more time it will give you in the long run. 

Waking up and ignoring the facts of today is what many do. They see their bank account going down, and they are optimistic that tomorrow will be better. You reach a new year, and you're confident that the next one will be better, but why?

What proof do you have that next year will be better than others? Everyone wants the next day and next year to be better.

The truth though is that HOPE IS NOT A STRATEGY. Hoping for better things is only deserved once you have made the adjustments for things to change.

Going back to the NBA strategy, if you realized after a year you grew a few inches, you improved your ball handling, and you're a much better perimeter scorer, you now have more reason to believe that you can make it to the NBA.

If you sat on the couch all year watching games on TV and continued to say I can and will do that one day, what do you have to be optimistic about? You don't deserve the optimism that you are showing. You need to be cautiously optimistic.

  • Optimism works great for the future
  • Realism is best used in the moment 
  • Optimism should be earned 

How to Put Your Cautiously Optimistic Ways Into Action

The concept is simple.  Stop just being optimistic about everything at all times. The time to be optimistic is after consistent work has and is being put in. Optimism is not just something to be thrown around to make everyone feel great.

Too much optimism can set you up for massive disappointments. You create all of these expectations in your life, and they come crashing down because they were all built off of hopes. None of them were realistic.

The best thing you can do for your self is to take a look in the mirror and see yourself and your life for what it is today. Then take a second look and see it for what it can be tomorrow. Then do everything in your power to make the first picture become the second.

  • Be optimistic after the work has been put in
  • Over optimism will set you up for massive disappointment
  • Do everything your power to make your reality match your dream

How to Get Started

Habit Stacker provides resources to help you improve your habits. The first way we do this is through our online course Habit Mastery. The second way is with the Habit Stacker mobile app. You become cautiously optimistic by changing your habits.

Olympian and founder of Habit Stacker Ian Warner, teaches the Habit Mastery course. He walks you through practical techniques that you can use to improve your life. No fluff or non-sense! You get instant access to over 45 different videos breaking down how to build good habits.

The Habit Stacker app is what you use to live out your habits daily. It's a habit tracker that lets you know what you need to do each day. The app sets your daily routine board for you each day, so you all you have to do is get the task done at the top of the list. You can look back and see your streaks and see if you really learned how to wake up early

Ian Warner

About the author

I went from a broken leg to a 2012 Olympian. I have spent the last 15 years building positive habits as a track athlete and entrepreneur. I founded Habit Stacker and dedicated my life to helping people to develop winning habits. I have helped over 5,000 people...

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