2013 Goals – It's all in the language

Monday, 14th January, 2013

istock_000017644187xsmallPopular targets people set for themselves are around what they want less of in the year ahead …

  • I want to eat less chocolate
  • I want to lose weight
  • I want to be less stressed
  • I want less clutter
  • I want to work less evenings during the week

Have you ever found yourself phrasing your goals in terms of what you are trying to avoid, reduce or give up?

What we say to ourselves about the changes we want to make is crucial in achieving those changes.

When I was doing my coaching training, one thing I learned stuck in my mind … apparently the brain doesn’t process negative language the way we intend it to.

So for  “I want to eat less chocolate”, the brain doesn’t interpret that you want to reduce your chocolate intake, rather it focuses on “I want to eat ___ chocolate”.

Thinking about how I used to set goals it makes sense that this was happening with me on a conscious as well as a subconscious level. Whenever I thought about my goals I found myself reminded about what I was trying to avoid!

So focus on what you want, rather than on what you’re aiming to avoid – even if you start from the latter point, you can always re-word your goals to something more positive and achievable.

For example:

  • I want to eat fruit (or other healthier) snacks between meals
  • I want to be ___ kg (or stone/pounds!)
  • I want to have strategies I can use for stressful situations
  • I want to create a tidy home/work space
  • I want to have 3 evenings a week to spend with family/friends/chilling out

How have you worded your goals this year?


debbie019 fThank you for taking time to read this blog.

I’m Debbie Inglis, a performance coach, mentor and trainer, working with Heads, Principals, School leaders and their teams to maximise leadership performance, create more effective, confident, and motivated teams … in a way that brings out the best in you.

If you’re interested in my services, please get in touch, and you can read more here.