Achieve your Goals with this one Key Mindset Strategy for Success


Achieve your Goals with this one Key Mindset Strategy for Success

By Kirsten Beske, Your Mindset Architect

As we celebrate the Summer Solstice and the beginning of the next phase of seasons, we often use this time to freshen our goals, both personal and professional.  Do I want to get fitter in the next 6 months?  What are my Q3 and Q4 financial goals?  What is my plan to meet these goals?

The key to any goal-setting success is to make sure you are setting the “right” goals.”  It may surprise you that the specific way in which you craft your goals is vital to their ultimate success or failure.  We often unwittingly set Avoidance Goals, which make us work harder, be less effective, and experience frustration and disappointment.  Rather, setting Approach Goals, as described below, will end the frustration and ensure ultimate goal success.


What are Avoidance Goals? No Ice Cream?

Avoidance Goals are negatively constructed goals that try to “stop” something.  They often include the word “not.” If I say to you, “Do not think of a pink flamingo,” you will immediately think of a pink flamingo. In fact, it is impossible that you will not visualize a pink flamingo, plastic or real.  It is simply how our brains are wired for thought.  

Thus, when we form a goal in the negative, as in “I will not eat ice cream every night for dessert,” it is an example of an Avoidance Goal.  And each night, as you try to not eat ice cream, you will inevitably think of ….ice cream.  That ice cream that you can not have.  Creamy, cold, delicious slide-down-your-throat ice cream.  And that thought will torture you, wear you down and tantalize you until you give in and eat the gosh darn ice cream.  Goal failure.  


What are Approach Goals? Love Healthy Dessert!

In contrast, an Approach Goal is a goal that you frame in the affirmative.  The goal is stated in a positive way – indicating you are hoping to approach and meet that goal.  For example, “I will eat a scrumptious, satisfying, healthy sweet treat” is an approach goal.  It is not a list of forbidden foods. Rather, it is a concrete, positive, attainable vision of what you want to achieve.   As your brain tries to creatively meet your goal of having an absolutely delicious healthy treat, it will come up with the most attractive version of dessert it can!  (Think of strawberries, blueberries, tangerines, and meringues.)  You will look forward to that satisfying and healthy dessert. Goal success. 


Approach Goals are Psychologically Easier

Employing an Approach Goal uses significantly less mental effort and psychological capital than trying to meet an Avoidance Goal.   This in turn maximizes your chances of success and sustainability. Imagine the Avoidance Goal of “I will not eat any cookies.” In order to meet this goal all day, each day, each hour of the day, you say to yourself, “Don’t eat a cookie,” “Don’t eat a cookie,” and “Don’t eat a cookie.”  As a result, every time you check in on your goal, each time, you are thinking about……cookies! And each time, it uses up precious psychological capital fighting the constant image of cookies, which is exhausting and unhelpful.  


Flip your Script and make your Goals Approach Goals

 So, take a look at your current goals and see if they are framed in the negative. If you are using words like “I will stop,”  “I won’t,” or “I will not,” there is a good chance it is an Avoidance Goal. If so, take a moment to flip your resolution around to be a positive Approach Goal.   You will save immeasurable psychological capital, use less willpower and enjoy greater goal success.  Cheers to You

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