Seven Fantasies That May Trigger Your Own Useful Ones

We often think of fantasies as useless distractions. But I have helped my clients use their fantasies as a first step toward identifying goals that are both exciting and realistic.

Here are some of those fantasies. Perhaps one or more will trigger your own fantasy that will stimulate an exciting yet realistic goal.

Dinner with the Big Kahunas. A mid-level manager at a large corporation never got closer to a top executive than to watch his “Welcome to the Company” video on the corporation’s intranet. My client’s fantasy is that the CEO will come to her desk and say, “I’ve heard great things about you. Our C-level executives are going out to dinner tonight. Would you like to join us?”

I asked my client, “That may not be realistic but is there anything you could do so your boss’s boss did invite you to something: a meeting, to work on a project, whatever?”  She said, “I don’t know.” I then asked, “Do you want to dig around to find out what your boss’s boss’s priorities are and then ask your boss if you could write your boss’s boss a letter expressing interest in working on it?” She agreed that was a good idea. And indeed, she ended up joining a task force led by her boss’s boss.

Beating Dunkin’ Donuts. A client owned a donut shop. His fantasy was that he’d go national, beat the pants off Dunkin’ Donuts, and get a call one day from Dunkin’ Donuts’ CEO asking if he’d sell for $100 million.

I asked my client if he might want to take a baby step in that direction: opening a second location, then perhaps more. and next perhaps franchising the business. He said he’d think about it. Candidly, I’m pretty sure he won’t expand but I don’t consider the discussion a waste of time. He gained clarity on how ambitious he wants to be.

An Irish Spring.  A client was a 30-year old, single and wanting to marry. His fantasy was that he’d be hiking along a trail and an Irish lass with long blonde hair would smile at him, they’d make beautiful love on the side of the trail, then marry and live happily ever after.

I asked him what he thought was a realistic approach to finding his Irish spring. He said that he had always resisted placing a relationship ad but would try it on OKCupid.  He’s now dating a Bernadette.

A lackluster student becomes a brainiac. A client who had always struggled in school was thinking of dropping out of college. His fantasy was that, one morning, he’d wake up and suddenly do wonderfully in all his courses: understand the lectures and the readings, and ace the tests with little studying.

I asked him if he’d want to take a baby step in that direction: take easier courses, get a tutor, start to read the textbooks before the semester began.

He said, none of the above. His being unwilling to pursue any of those reasonable strategies made clearer that he should drop out of college and get training for a job that doesn’t require a degree.

An early retirement offer he can’t refuse. A client worked at a university and wasburned out but couldn’t afford to retire. His fantasy was that the university, in an attempt to bring in young blood without running afoul of age-discrimination laws, offered anyone with 20 or more years of service to, in exchange for retiring, five years of pay at full salary and 10 years of credit tacked on to their retirement plan.

That was unrealistic because he worked in a unionized university, where everything must be standard. So I asked him if he’d like to talk with his boss about a change in his job description that might reinvigorate him. A course on video production later and he isn’t so eager to retire.

Give enough love and he’ll live forever. This is my own fantasy. I love my doggie Einstein very much. As I was petting him today, a fantasy popped into my head: As long as I keep petting him a lot, he’ll live forever.

What should I tell myself in light of that fantasy? Love him all you can because neither of us will live forever but both of us will benefit from that love.

A miraculous disappearance. A client had a bad cancer and her fantasy was that one day it would simply disappear

Here’s the punchline: That actually happened! Twenty years ago, she was diagnosed with Stage 2 leiomyosarcoma. She asked me to research it for her and I learned a lot about it—none of it good news. A few months later, she called to tell me that her doctor says there is no longer any evidence of cancer. It simply vanished! Now, 20 years later, she is still cancer-free! I don’t know if she was misdiagnosed or had a miraculous recovery–there are rare reports of spontaneous remissions–but that is a true long-shot fantasy that became a reality.

I tell you that story because sometimes, even when hope is unrealistic, good, indeed great things, can happen.

The takeaway. I invite you to take a moment to envision a fantasy. Perhaps write it down. Does that give trigger a realistic possibility for improving your life? If so, is there a baby step you’d like to take toward its achievement?

Marty Nemko’s bio is in Wikipedia.

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© Copyright 2015 Marty Nemko, Ph.D., All rights Reserved.
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  • fantasy
  • identifying goals
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Named the San Francisco Bay Area's "Best Career Coach," Marty Nemko has been career and personal coach to 4,500 clients and enjoys a 96% client-satisfaction rate. The author of seven books (250,000 copies sold) including How to Do Life: What They Didn’t Teach You in School plus over 2,000(!) published articles, including on where he also writes, Marty Nemko is in his 26th year as host of Work with Marty Nemko on KALW-FM (NPR-San Francisco.) He was the one man in a one-man PBS-TV Pledge Drive Special. Marty Nemko holds a Ph.D. in educational psychology from the University of California, Berkeley and subsequently taught there. He is married to Barbara Nemko, the Napa County Superintendent of Schools. They have one daughter and one doggie: Einstein, whose name is false advertising: He's dumb as dirt but sweet as they come. The archive of Marty Nemko's writings and radio show plus an active blog and Twitter stream are at