Clarity Trumps Fantasy

Burning Away the Fog of Fantasy

fantasy daydream clarity imaginationFantasizing about success or changing habits is as effective as fantasizing about winning the lottery as a means to building a retirement fund. Fantasy unlike imagination is not an effective tool for change, growth or success – unless you write fantasy books! Getting clearer on the difference between fantasy and imagination is a good first step.

Fantasythe faculty or activity of imagining things, especially things that are impossible or improbable.

Imagination: the faculty or action of forming new ideas, or images or concepts of external objects not present to the senses.

Daydream: a pleasant visionary usually wishful creation of the imagination.

Fantasy keeps us within the realm of the impossible or improbable while imagination can help us pioneer new frontiers and think outside the box. Neuroscience is helping us to learn the value of daydreaming:

Every business owner wants to think of themselves as hard working and focused. Daydreaming is better left to artists, most MBAs would say. But a wealth of scientific data says that a wandering mind can lead to the kind of insight, that “aha!” moment, that every entrepreneur hopes for. read article »

Fantasy involves the imagination, but it is much more ‘magical thinking’ than creative problem solving or envisioning.  While both fantasy and imagination actively engage us, imagination can help us to energize or relax into a more creative space – and we need to actively be there in our imaginings so we can catch the big ideas, otherwise what’s the point?

those who are more prone to mind-wandering tend to be better at generating new ideas, at least in the lab—this new paper shows that our daydreams seem to serve a similar function as night dreams, facilitating bursts of creative insight.  read article »

Jeremy Dean, a psychological researcher at UCL London and the owner ofPsyBlogy:

The problem with positive fantasies is that they allow us to anticipate success in the here and now. However, they don’t alert us to the problems we are likely to face along the way and can leave us with less motivation—after all, it feels like we’ve already reached our goal.

It’s one way in which our minds own brilliance lets us down. Because it’s so amazing at simulating our achievement of future events, it can actually undermine our attempts to achieve those goals in reality.

It seems to me that it’s a question of intention and application. If we are just zoning out via fantasy and magical thinking, we can’t expect this activity to provide much forward movement in our life. However, if we are actively engaging our imagination for more creative solutions to take real action on, then progress seems likely.