Negative Goal Setting

Have you ever felt like it’s harder to achieve your goals when you’re harboring fears and doubts? Do you find that you think about these doubts more often than your actual goal itself?

The famous saying: “You are what you eat” IS in fact very applicable to goal setting itself in that you are also, what you think – of yourself.

If you set a goal to lose weight, yet past experience tells you that it’s ‘harder than you think’, and you focus on the latter more than the goal itself…voilà! The dominant thought takes over and you start losing faith in your original goal. 

What’s negative goal setting, you ask? Well, there’s a lot of talk to avoid the use of negative connotations whilst setting a goal, as it gears towards more on what you don’t want to happen as a result of not achieving these goals. “I want to be healthier” is very different to “I need to lose weight” – two phrases that essentially evoke similar outcomes, but one that delivers a heavier blow to the chest if unsuccessful (losing the weight). By failing to achieve one’s goal (which is normal) we get inside our own heads and churn out more associative thoughts towards how difficult the goal is. These compiled ‘evidence’ of past failures then outweighs the possible effect of a positive outcome – further emphasizing these doubts.

However, ladies, the very core of negative goal setting comes mainly from a little blind spot that we can be totally unaware of. You’re most likely either unaware, or you’re unable to control these doubts and fears. We can begin with a positive goal we want to set out to achieve, but negative doubts can creep in and eventually flip the switch! Your positive goal can turn into a negative one, simply because uncertainty decides to play a part.

Have you ever hated your job to the point where you wished you worked somewhere else? But just never did anything about it because you got comfortable?

What can begin with a positive goal, may end in a negative one as fear reproaches and the hope for a potential shift in career starts subsiding. “I don’t want to be in this dreadful job” will eventually surface, and when that does; it could lead to bad outcomes, such as being made redundant because you no longer perform well. All this pertains to harboring negative thoughts and letting that surround the positive intent of your initial goal. Let’s say you got out of that mindset and set a goal to leave your current workplace in search of another job? How are you going to frame this? Quite often people will find themselves with the goal to “leave this job I hate” as opposed to “I am going to find a job that is more suited for me.” – it’s about framing the goal in question towards a more positive outlook, rather than reiterating the negative strain it could have on you if you don’t achieve this goal.

Why is this important? In this current climate where COVID-19 is a conversation you can have with just about any Tom, Dick and Harry – the general consensus is that people are more concerned about ‘being scared of getting the virus’ rather than focusing on ‘staying safe’. However, we are NOT suggesting that focusing on the former would mean you wouldn’t get the virus. Rather, we are suggesting that you can only choose to control what you can control.

So what is it that we can all control?

We can control which dominant thoughts we have in our minds: 

  • Choose to be healthy. 
  • Choose to see the positive in things. 
  • Choose to be resilient amidst the fear-mongering. 
  • Choose to have power over our minds. 
  • Choose to be the one spreading hope and joy, instead of fear to others. 

And most of all: Choose to sanitise your hands and practice social distancing for the safety of everyone in your community.

Remember. Laying blame onto people, complaining, and being upset about the behaviour of others, does nothing but take away the power from all of us. Don’t let your mind go there!

Now is the time, more than ever, to show support for your neighbors who may be struggling. Connect deeply with those you love, and choose to be kind.

Make positive goals, and always choose to be the strong woman who stands tall. 


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