3 Ways Overconfidence Can Keep You From Your Goals

The Power of 3:1

Research done by Dr. Barbara Fredrickson, at the University of North Carolina, has found that experiencing positive to negative emotions in a 3:1 ratio increases our ability to bounce back from the negative in our lives. It also leads to better relationships, and improved health, while helping us to achieve our goals easier than ever before. The 3:1 ratio is important because it is just enough negative focus to keep us aware of what could go wrong while directing most of our attention on the positive, which helps us see opportunities and options available to us.

Without this proper ratio of positive to negative, we either become overly optimistic or overly pessimistic. Neither helps us to see the world in a healthy manner. In fact, both can distort our vision of reality so much that we end up making poor decisions. Unless we look at things from different angles, we can get a very biased view and become overconfident.

3 Ways Overconfidence Keeps You from Your Goals

  1. It causes us not to consider all the facts.

Overconfidence is a killer. It is what leads people to make decisions without doing their proper research. We are showing overconfidence when we make negative statements like “there is no way I can do that,” as well as when we say positive things like “I don’t need to write a business plan, my business idea is enough by itself.”

Consider a phenomenon deemed the Interviewer Illusion by Richard Nisbett. Once your resume gets you through the screening stage of the hiring process, many hiring managers make their decision on who to hire based on the applicant’s interview. The illusions many of these managers have is that they can tell the character of the interviewee based on their personal ability to read people.

The hiring manager’s overconfidence leads them to not checking references and basing their decision solely on their first impression. They assume that people are what they seem to be during the interview. In doing so, they fail to take into effect the power of the situation. The individual may just be acting in a particular manner to impress in a job interview. Even worse, research shows that if the interviewer is informed that another interviewer had prescreened the applicant, they are prone to like them even more.

  1. It causes us to experience tunnel vision.

When we are overconfident, we see only the immediate benefits of our actions. We tell ourselves that “everything will be okay,” and “we can handle it.” If something goes wrong, then we make excuses for it by shifting the blame to someone or something else. We stubbornly refuse to see the real cost of our actions by not looking at all of the possible outcomes.

Confidence is good, don’t get me wrong. We just want to have three parts optimism to one part pessimism. This ratio allows us to look ahead for possible problems, plan for them appropriately and deal with them effectively. Otherwise, we are practicing overconfidence and living in an illusion.

  1. It leads us to make costly decisions.

I was visiting with someone the other day, and they were telling me how their dad surfs the internet on his phone while driving his four-wheel drive truck on the interstate. I said that is crazy and their reply was that he is confident. That isn’t confidence that is overconfidence, and it is vehicular homicide when he ends up running into another vehicle and killing someone. Too much optimism tells him that he can drive and surf the internet at the same time and it will be okay, while a little pessimism can remind him that this is not a good idea.

The Power of 3:1

The 3:1 optimism to pessimism ratio helps us to see the big picture in our lives. For example, when exploring the idea of taking a new position at work, we need not just to focus on the benefits of the opportunity, such as the pay raise and the prestige that comes with it, but we should also ask ourselves, what this promotion will cost me? What will the consequence be on my free time? How will it affect my family as well as my other important life categories?

As you begin creating your life by intention, keep in mind that balance is one of the most important factors. By using the 3:1 ratio you get the benefits of positive thinking without burying your head in the sand and becoming oblivious to the negative.

Question: In the past, what has overconfidence cost you? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

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