Dreaming + Doing

Updated: May 23, 2019

It's all very well saying things like 'Fall down seven times, get up eight' or 'never give up', but what does that actually mean in practice? How do we actually do that?

This is where Professor Oettingen comes in:

"... we are wrong to blindly assume that simply dreaming something can make it so.”

Oettingen says that 'dreaming'(goals) + doing are not a straight line with green lights all the way.

We can prepare before hand (quite quickly).


Try this...

"On a blank sheet of paper, name the wish in three to six words. Identify the best outcome (also in three to six words) and write it down. Now let your thoughts lead your pen, taking as much paper as you need. Then name your obstacle and write it down. Imagine the obstacle, again letting your thoughts wander and lead your writing. To create a plan, rewrite down one specific action you can take to overcome the obstacle. Write down the time and place where you believe the obstacle will arise. Then write down the if-then plan: ‘If obstacle x occurs (when and where), then I will perform behavior y.’ Repeat it once to yourself out loud.”

I’ll end with two vital questions that I hope you never stop asking yourself: What is your dearest wish? What holds you back from achieving it?”

Maybe the lights will sometimes turn amber or red. When they do, green light them back.

With Arete,


Gabriele Oettingen is a Professor at both New York University and the University of Hamburg. She has authored more than 100 articles and publications and is also the author of NY best seller 'Rethinking Positive Thinking'. Check out Oettingen's work on

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