Do you have some big goal you’re hoping to achieve in your career but feel like there’s something standing in the way? It turns out that your worst enemy when it comes to work success isn’t a hateful boss or a failing company—it’s actually your own brain.

It’s common knowledge that visualizing your future can be helpful in terms of making your hopes and dreams come alive; after all, you don’t know what you’re fighting for until you really think about it. However, there’s a limit to how much you should be fantasizing about your goals.

Studies have shown that in the realm of jobs, people who spent too much time imagining their dream jobs were actually shooting themselves in the foot. These people ended up applying to fewer jobs, getting fewer job offers, and working for lower salaries if they did in fact land a job. Yikes.

So, what’s the problem? If you spend too much time daydreaming, your brain sees the big endgame without noticing the problems and challenges you’ll have to face to get there. This can leave you ill-prepared for executing your plan in the real world, and it can lead to extreme disillusionment when things don’t go according to how your brain pictured it.

Overall, yes, visualizing and planning your future is helpful. It’s important to have goals and to know the direction that you want to head in. But instead of just thinking about your lofty dream job, set smaller, achievable goals as well to help you get there. After all, it’s easier to reach your destination if you have a road map than if you decide to just wing it and see where it takes you.

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