The Power of Pessimism: A Surprising Path to Success

A Message from Penny Forward Founder and CEO, Chris Peterson

Hey there goal-setters and dreamers,


As we pass by the midpoint of this months fresh starts and ambitious resolutions, I want to throw a curveball your way and introduce you to the unexpected hero of achievement – pessimism. Yes, you heard it right, that seemingly negative force that often gets a bad rap. But bear with me, because when harnessed correctly, pessimism can be a game-changer in the pursuit of your dreams.


We’ve all heard about the magic of optimism, and it’s true that believing in yourself can propel you towards achieving incredible things. Take Gina Marie Applebee, for instance, who, with her optimistic spirit, turned a tiny home dream into a reality, one step at a time. Michael Malver, after a decade of job searching, embraced optimism when the opportunity came knocking, and it proved to be his golden ticket.


Optimism inspires us to set goals and find ways to conquer them, even when the path ahead is uncertain. But let’s shine a light on the underrated power of pessimism – the unsung hero that helps us navigate potential pitfalls and avoid unnecessary risks.


Pessimism keeps us from getting hurt, but, when taken to extremes, can become a stumbling block, preventing us from trying things that could significantly improve our lives. That discounted cell phone plan might seem too good to be true, or the challenging housing market conditions may deter us from seeking a new home. It’s a powerful force that can keep us from setting goals in the first place, trapping us in a comfort zone that stifles growth.


If you catch yourself saying, “I don’t have the money,” or “I don’t have the time,” or “I don’t have the skills,” consider a perspective shift. “I don’t have the money” becomes “I need to find the money.” “I don’t have the time” becomes “I need to make the time.” “I don’t have the skills” becomes “I need to learn” or “I need to find someone who can help.”


By reframing your limitations, you start crafting SMART goals – specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound. These goals become the stepping stones to accomplishing something new, even if the path is riddled with mistakes or failures. Because, in the end, what have you got to lose?


Remember, one of the key predictors of success is the time and effort you invest. Dedicate yourself to finding the money, learning something new, or making time for what truly matters. Mistakes and setbacks are part of the journey, and learning that you don’t enjoy something is still progress.


So, embrace the power of pessimism, but let it be a guiding force rather than a roadblock. Put time and effort into your goals, and watch how even small strides lead to significant payoffs. Your dreams are worth it – go out there and make them happen!


Cheers to embracing the unexpected and achieving greatness,


Chris Peterson, AFC®

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