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Put your goals in the positive

10th Jan, 2014

For many years we have been telling clients to make sure any goal is expressed in the positive. It seems that the brain doesn’t process negatives well. If I tell you for example to “not think of blue fish” your mind is probably now awash with images of blue fish! Away from or avoidance goals and thinking directs us away from what we don’t want but doesn’t provide us with what we do want. Research suggests that avoidance goals are bad for our health too! Coats, Janoff-Bulman and Alpert (1996) found that people who tended to set avoidance goals had higher levels of depression and lower levels of well-being. Lower levels of well being were also reported by Elliot,Sheldon and Church, (1997). Research by Elliot and McGregor in 2001 showed that framing goals in a towards or approach mode are associated with higher levels of academic performance and well being. So, put your goals in the positive. For example instead of ‘losing weight’ the goal could be ‘becoming fit and healthy’.

Food for thought?

Goal setting forms part of many of our coaching, leadership and presentation workshops.

By: Colin Graves