Thoughts on Negative Visualization + Life Update

negative visualization

I nearly had a heart attack last Sunday.

I locked myself out of my apartment two and a half hours before my flight to Chicago (I know, I have the worst luck ever with flights…)

I had to call a locksmith. It took him 50 minutes to get to my apartment, 18 seconds to unlock the door, and then he charged me $135, plus an additional weekend service fee of $65. The total came out to $195. Cash only.

I had $7 cash in my wallet, so I had to drive to the nearest ATM to get cash to give the crook his money before finally taking off to the airport—an hour and 20 minutes till my departure time.

When I finally got to the airport, the check-in line was out the door… There was no way I was going to make my flight if I waited in that line.

So, I made my way to the front of the line, and I asked—or rather, begged—people to let me cut them. And they did!

(Valuable lesson here: always remember to be confident enough to ask, but humble enough not to expect).

After checking in, I sprinted across the airport to my gate and, when I got there, they were just starting to board the plane.

I made it by a hair.

I’ve never felt so relieved in my entire life. I jokingly told my girlfriend that the stress I experienced in those few hours must have cut a couple years off my life.

Looking back now, it seems a little foolish that I got so worked up about it in the first place. But, to give myself some credit, overall I think I did a decent job of keeping my composure.

I was definitely stressing out pretty hard at first, but something that really helped me calm down was imagining the worst possible situation. This is a Stoic practice known as negative visualization.

Though it may sound pessimistic, it’s actually the opposite. The point of negative visualization isn’t to spend all your time focusing on the negative, but simply to put things into perspective.

What’s the worst thing that would happen if I did miss my flight?

Well, then I’d just take the next flight. Not the ideal situation, obviously, but also not the end of the world… Definitely not something worth having a heart attack over.

Whenever you’re dealing with a tough situation, take a moment to think about the worst possible outcome and you’ll realize that it’s probably not as bad as you’re making it out to be.

There’s a great quote from one of my favorite books, The Obstacle Is The Way, that says:

If your nerve holds then nothing really did “happen”—our perception made sure it was nothing of consequence.”

I love that.

If your nerve holds then nothing really did “happen.”

I almost missed my flight. And, even if I had missed my flight, it still wouldn’t have been “bad” unless I decided to label it as such. I still would have had the choice to make it “nothing of consequence” if I chose to control the way I reacted to the situation.

Remember, we decide what story to tell ourselves.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: you can’t control the things that happen to you, but you can always control how you respond to those things.

When things feel like they’re falling apart, don’t allow yourself to panic.

Choose to be in control.

If you’re wondering why I’m in Chicago…

The reason is that on Monday I began a two-week orientation/training program for work that all new-hires are required to attend.

(So, yeah, missing my flight probably wouldn’t have been a good start, but still, it wouldn’t have been the end of the world.)

View from my hotel room. #ConsultingLife
View from my hotel room. #ConsultingLife

As you may or may not know, I graduated from USC last May and am now beginning work as a full-time Technology Consultant for a global consulting firm in LA.

I moved into my first post-grad apartment last week, bought my first car the week before that, and have now officially entered “the real world.”

Some people say that life after college goes downhill, but I have a feeling that things are only going to get better.

Things are going to be a lot different, that’s for sure, but, I like change, and as much fun as I had at USC, I’m really looking forward to this new chapter of my life.

What this means for the blog

I’ve had multiple people ask me if I plan to continue writing once I start working, and the answer is yes. Absolutely.

I’ve learned a ton from creating and running this blog, and I don’t plan on stopping any time soon. A lot has happened in the last couple months (like getting featured on LifeHacker!) and I have some big plans for Collegetopia that I hope to achieve within the next year.

So don’t worry—lots of good stuff to come still :).

However, since I’m no longer in college, I will be shifting my focus away from topics that revolve solely around college. My mission is to help people optimize all aspects of their life, whether they’re in college or not. Moving forward, I plan on writing about everything from time management to social skills to personal finance to psychology… and anything else I’m learning about that I think might be relevant to you.

My mission is to help you do more, achieve more, and, above all, be happier.

That means spending your time more effectively by focusing on what’s important, building better habits that support your success, and being happy with who you are, yet always seeking to improve.

If you are an ambitious college student, you are in the right place. The themes I discuss will still be beneficial to you now, while you’re in college, and they’ll continue to be beneficial to you after you graduate.

If you’re not in college, but you want to improve yourself, and more importantly, you’re willing to take action, you are also in the right place, and you will definitely find this site beneficial.

This site is for anyone who wants to learn how to do things better, and how to be better.

This site is NOT for anyone who already knows how to do everything perfectly, and is already perfect in every way possible.

Can you answer this quick question?

In order to hold myself accountable to my mission and continue to provide you with valuable content in the future, I want to commit myself to a consistent posting schedule, which is something I’ve never done before.

I’m currently debating between posting once a week or once every two weeks. If I decide to post once a week, that will likely mean that my posts will have to be shorter.

(In the past, the majority of my posts have been on the longer side.)

So, it’s a matter of posting shorter articles more frequently or longer articles less frequently.

Which would you prefer?

Leave a comment letting me know which you would prefer (and why): shorter articles more frequently, or longer articles less frequently?  

About Stefano

Stefano Ganddini

Hey there! I'm the creator of Collegetopia and the guy who writes all these articles. I'm here to help you live BIG, do EPIC shit, & be HAPPY. Click here to read more.

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  • Tiffany Belfiore

    Longer articles less frequently please, because quality over quantity. I really enjoy reading a longer and more thorough article because I definitely get more out of it that way.

  • Akshay

    I think once every two weeks would be better coz that will give you a longer window to research and analyze the article hence resulting in quality content( this doesnt mean you articles are devoid of quality currently but i think a weekly timeline might put more pressure on you to post half baked articles). Anyways, keep up the good work.

    • Thanks for the input, Akshay. I think you’re right. A weekly timeline would likely force me to post subpar content due to the limited time constraint.

  • Steve

    Do longer articles every two weeks. Longer articles are more enjoyable to read, and we have more time to put into practice whatever lesson you’re teaching before you teach a new one. Don’t kill yourself trying to make a short article longer just because you have more time though.

    • Hm, hadn’t thought about it from the perspective of my readers like that. Thanks for the input, Steve. Appreciate it.

  • It’s me

    I like the longer articles!

  • I’d prefer the longer and less frequently posts. :)

  • Hey Stefano!

    Man, my heart was racing just from reading that flight story. I’ll consider it my physical activity for the day hahahaha.

    I really agree but have never seen it put into words. If your nerve holds then nothing really did “happen.” This makes a lot of sense and is something that I’ve followed for a while. I think it actually stemmed out of the idea that I always acted as if things weren’t a big deal so that I would avoid embarrassment if something in my life looked like it went wrong. In that sense I suppose I arrived at a similar philosophy by focusing on other peoples perceptions about me rather than my own perception. I can’t complain though, I have definitely benefited from it.

    I’m gonna throw a wrench in here and just say I prefer shorter articles. That’s just the way I am because I read nauseatingly slow (seriously my girlfriend finishes a novel before I can finish the back of a shampoo bottle).

    Also wanna throw out there, welcome to the real world! I’m also a consulting engineer and graduated last year from Penn State. Although I’m on the East coast. Congrats on the job and I look forward to reading more of your work!

    Uncharted Engineering

    • Thanks, Ken!

      Interesting how you arrived at that philosophy. Be careful about focusing too much on other people’s perceptions of you, though.

      Appreciate your input, and I’m glad at least one person went against the grain haha. But, at this point it looks like I’m going to stick with posting longer articles, every other week.

  • Amit C

    >So, it’s a matter of posting shorter articles more frequently or longer articles less frequently.

    The quality of content is more important. Quotes or tweets do not have the same impact as a medium or long article.

    Thanks for the book reco.

  • santu

    great mentor.just like longer articles dear.