The Difference Between Mindset and Wishful Thinking

Is an “abundance mindset” the same thing as wishing really hard and making something magically appear? I don’t think it is. Here’s why …

As you may have seen in my podcast a couple of weeks ago, my friend Julie Cairns’ documentary The Abundance Code has been premiering for free in the past week. (And I’m in it!)

This led to a question over on Copyblogger — is this concept of an “abundance mindset” the same thing as the belief popularized by the film The Secret?

The Secret’s worldview is (heavily) satirized in this clip from The IT Crowd:

I think there are some crucial differences, and I talk about them in this podcast.

In this 25-minute episode, I talk about:

  • Why I think fatalism is dangerous
  • Thinking about abundance in a context of global inequality
  • What mindset can (and can’t) do for you
  • Lessons from my grandmother, who lived to 102
  • Why you need a community of support (and why it might not be smart to drag your spouse into it)
  • A fun experiment that might change everything

The Show Notes

  • You still have a few days to catch The Abundance Code premiere for free online
  • My podcast eposide on abundance, mindset, and luck (AUDIO)
  • We have lots of free resources for you at MyCopyblogger — take advantage of them!
  • I hope I can be part of your community of support! I always love it when you say Hi or ask a question over on Twitter @soniasimone!

Sonia Simone: Greetings, superfriends! My name is Sonia Simone and these are the Confessions of a Pink-Haired Marketer. For those who don’t know me, I’m a co-founder and the chief content officer for Rainmaker Digital.

I’m also a champion of running your business and your life according to your own rules. As long as you don’t lie and you don’t hurt people, this podcast is your official pink permission slip to run your business or your career exactly the way you think you should.

Note: Links to extra resources are in the Show Notes!

I had a Q&A episode planned for today, but since there are a couple of days left to see The Abundance Code film for free, I thought I’d address a great question that came up in the comments over on Copyblogger.

By the way, did you know we turned comments back on over there? We love to see yours. 🙂

On to the question:

Is The Abundance Code the same as “The Secret”?

Christine Wareing:

Having watched the film, there is not a lot of difference between this and The Secret, which very much impacted me, although neither have really convinced me that you can really have it all if you manifest hard enough.

I believe that every bodies life is mapped out for them from birth, and whoever you are born to this is your package deal, hopefully you are given the opportunity to have a good life, some are lucky, some are not.

I will now refer you to a hilarious episode of The IT Crowd, which is a brilliant show if you’re comfortable with a bit of salty humor, about “Spacestar Ordering.”

Here’s how the character described how this system worked for him:

Well, I visualised the thing I wanted. In my case, it was a helicopter. I drew a picture of the helicopter on a piece of paper, then I stood with my back to space, threw the paper over my shoulder and wished really hard.

Couple of days later, bought myself a helicopter. Explain that one, if you can!

OK, so that’s a pretty broad parody — but I don’t think it’s an unfair one.

Here’s what I think:

Fatalism is dangerous

If you believe that your destiny is fixed, and you’re either destined to be lucky or you’re destined to be unlucky, you’ll take action that accords with that mindset.

As I talked about in my podcast on “Getting Lucky,” people who self-identify as unlucky don’t look for the lucky break — and because they don’t look for it, they don’t see it.

This doesn’t mean that no one gets a raw deal. Resources are not equally allocated. Someone born into a community where the standard of living is under a dollar a day don’t have the same resources that you have and I have. You and I have access to technology, not to mention all that cool stuff like food and clean water.

The role of mindset

Here was my response to Christine:

For me there is a massive difference [between abundance mindset and “The Secret”], which is that you cannot, and should not, expect to get anything simply by “manifesting” (wishing). You have to take action, and you have to keep your eyes open and continue to take informed action.

The role that “abundance thinking” plays for me is that it sets up a mindset in which you’ll actually take the actions you know would be beneficial. It’s creating a space of optimism in order to fuel behavior change.

…. mindset is crucial, but it’s just one element. An abundant mindset without action is just daydreaming.

So, for example, studies have shown that people who have a positive view of ageing tend to do better after a significant health event like a serious illness or accident.

Those with a positive view of growing older do better not because of any kind of cosmic energy, but because they are much more likely to engage in health-promoting behavior. They take that extra walk around the block. They do their physical therapy. They eat their vegetables.

My grandmother lived to be 102, and right up until about 101, she was painting, she was socializing, she was taking walks, she was appreciating the things she loved, especially nature and her family.

And I will tell you that if anyone said, “You know, eating broccoli is good for you,” or whatever it was, she’d eat some broccoli. She wanted to keep going. She had no interest in fading away.

She wasn’t running marathons or competing in bodybuilding competitions — she was doing normal things that people do when they take care of themselves. Moderate exercise, reasonable food, staying social, and doing things she enjoyed.

Now she had some very good genes helping her out, but we can’t help our genes. The thing we can help, and the lesson I take from her, is that she lived her life right to the end. She didn’t say, “Oh, that’s not for people my age.”

I remember into her 90s she used to pull all-nighters making quilts to raise money for “the old people.” She’d drink about five pots of seriously bad coffee and get it done. She did this for the benefit of people who were a lot younger than she was.

What else do we need besides mindset?

Here’s what I would suggest.

First, I think it would make sense to try an experiment at least, of taking, say, the next six months and deciding to believe you’re a lucky person.

If you don’t like it, go back. Just the exercise of trying on different beliefs and mindsets is good for you.

Now I don’t suggest adopting the belief that gravity doesn’t exist, or that there is no such thing as disease. Beliefs and mindset are about what lies outside the realm of things we can see and touch.

Then, within the context of that thought experiment, if you’re into it, I’d suggest these activities for your six-month project.

1. Start that side project you’ve been thinking of

Most people have a bit of a daydream about a “side hustle” — a little side business to make a small amount of extra revenue.

We’re not talking about making enough money to live on at this point. This is, say, $100 a month.

Important: Don’t spend $1000 a month to get $100 a month. Avoid the get-rich-quick schemes, the huge promises, all of that stuff. Focus on resources you can get for free, or — this one is a great resource for many people, me included — focus on resources you have already paid for.

Every day this week, spend about 10 minutes planning out your next steps. This “plan” can be pretty rough. Just back-of-the-envelope.


I’m going to write a $7 ebook and then write a bunch of guest posts to try to get some traffic to it.

I’m not saying that’s an ideal model. But it’s a model that might be workable.

Or another possibility:

I’m going to launch a part-time freelance business doing something I know how to do really well.

Write, design, teach art, write grant proposals, tutor English, cook, make clothes.

Don’t look for a “paint by numbers” system. Look for something you know how to do really well, that someone else wants and will pay for.

Try not to think about “this is my future.” Instead, think about projects and experiments. Just interesting things to try.

I’ve noticed something about a lot of very successful people I write about or interview — their story is usually really windy and full of odd little side paths. It’s how you get to be an interesting person, in my opinion. Real success, satisfying success, very, very rarely happens in a straight line.

2. Leverage the free stuff

A lot of us who give any thought to this have bought some things over the years. Business advice, marketing advice, that kind of stuff.

Go find all of those. Print them out if that helps you. Schedule the time to work through them.

We also have a big old free library for you on — look on the Products tab for Free! My Copyblogger.

This weekend, do something. Make something. A website or a page or something. It can be small and imperfect, that’s fine.

Remember, you’re a lucky person. So your little project is going to benefit from some sparks of luck along the way.

That’s what this “abundance mindset” means to me. It means looking for resources you already have access to. It means asking yourself all the time, “What’s right in front of me that I haven’t seen yet?” It means cultivating the courage to move a little out of your comfort zone to try and find some great things.

And, very important, it means cultivating a community of support so that you’re not trying to do this all by yourself. I’ve said this before, but don’t put all of this onto your spouse or partner. That’s not really their job, and they’ll have their own fears and worries that can make this harder. Find like-minded friends instead, who want to experiment and have fun and see what kind of luck you can all make together.

I’m not going to tell you that this is going to make you an internet millionaire. But I will tell you that there’s no reason it wouldn’t.

I am, on paper — and trust me, it’s only on paper. Not the kind of paper I can spend. But I have a lot of freedom. I can structure my days to spend the time I want to spend with my son and my husband. I can structure my time so I can take good care of myself. And I can still meet my obligations and do the kind of work I’m best at.

For example, travel is something I’ve loved since I was a teenager. Now, I work when I travel, I don’t take “vacations” in a traditional sense. But that gives me the freedom to see things and have experiences that I value greatly.

So give up this idea that you can fill in an order form, stand with your back to outer space, and wish really hard. You and I both know it won’t work.

Take consistent action, and stay curious. Look for possibilities. Look for support. The world has plenty of bad stuff and it has plenty of good stuff. You can find the good stuff — and you’ll have your share of the tough stuff as well, because that’s reality. It’s fine. It’s being human.

And I hope I can play a role in that community of support for you. Leave me a comment or hit me up on Twitter with your questions, or if you feel stuck and can’t figure out what to do next.

Encouraging and helping each other is the way we can all build a better future. I believe in that. And I believe in you. Go get ’em. 🙂

You may find the film helpful — and it’s free until the 30th. Go grab it, and watch it with an eye to what you can extract that will help you on your path. It could be that you don’t agree with 100% of it, and that is totally ok. You get to cherry-pick the stuff that will help you.