Goal Setting — An Unseen Dark Side

Or alternatively, Welcome to Hogwarts! I will be your professor for Defense against the Dark Arts this year as we fend off the dark side of Goal Setting.

Goal setting is incredibly important with health and fitness. Nothing of significance can be accomplished without some great goals. I usually do goal setting early on with clients through a couple exercises called “True Goals” and “Destination Postcards.”

Real brief overview of true goals and destination postcards

True Goals is an exercise where we dig deeper to figure out what you think your initial goal will give you and why that is important to you. For example, a lot of times, mothers tell me they want to lose weight. They believe that will give them more energy to keep up and play with their kids. That’s important because as a mother, they want to give their child the best nurturing childhood they can. The initial goal was weight loss, but the true goal is more energy to provide for their kids. This is an incredibly personal exercise, and everyone discovers they have a unique true goal.

Destination Postcard is an exercise where we take that true goal and we make it a reality right now. We visualize being that person, and use that to inform what kind of habits and thoughts we might need to develop to make it real.

These two goal setting exercises create a stronger vision which helps sustain long-term motivation. Long term results is the top focus for our coaching at Health REBELs. (If you want to go more in-depth about goal setting, check out our Goal Setting Masterclass on YOUTUBE or if you want to talk to a coach and get help with goal setting, schedule a CALL)

How Goal Setting Backfires

Sometimes (most of the time) the brain doesn’t make things easy for us. Honestly, our brains are really kind of assholes to us. Sometimes, we accidentally create goals that DON’T push us forward, but instead anchor us down and drag us backwards.

You see, when anything exists, its opposite also exists by contrast. Every coin has two sides, every hot has a cold, every light creates a shadow…

Every Coin has two sides… and so do goals…

In our minds, when we create a destination postcard, this becomes a “Desired Reality” and instantaneously creates a comparative but opposite “Current Reality”

Let’s look at the most common “Desires Realities” or goals that people come up with..

Common Desired Realities From Goal Setting

“I want to be rich”
“I want to be Healthy”
“I want to be Happy”
“I want to be skinny”

And all of those by default create a contrasting “Current Reality” which is opposite.

Opposite Current Realities Created by Goal Setting

“I am poor”
“I am unhealthy”
“I am unhappy”
“I am fat”

And those current realities that we accidentally create in goal setting can morph into Identities. Identities can be really rigid constructs in our mind.

I wrote more about Identities here on my Facebook page but ultimately, Identities dictate how we live our lives. They can also promote or stop change.

Anytime we do something to contradict an identity, our minds go into chaos and fight that change in order to preserve the identity. It’s a defense mechanism we have to keep us out of danger from the unknown or unpredictable, but in our modern lives the defense mechanism causes more harm than safety.

So if we create an identity, and try to act in defiance of that identity, we get natural friction and eventually self-sabotaging behaviors.

So what creates the friction??

The Birth of Conflict

It’s when Desired Reality ≠ Current Reality.

That difference between the desired reality you want to work towards and the current reality your mind embodies creates a conflict. It’s the dark side of goal setting. Sometimes an ambitious future casting can create a disparaging self-image in your current situation. Luckily we can prevent that.

The reality is, desired realities are not wholly novel or different from current realities. We are intuitively drawn to a goal that is an exaggeration of our most valued parts. Goals don’t show us something new, it shows us the best of what we are. Goal setting therefore is a process of identifying who you truly are when you’re at your best.

Goals are not about creating a new reality, Goal setting is about growing your current reality into a larger desired reality. It’s about growing.

To build a defense against disempowering goal statements, we want to ensure that we use a different formula…

Desired Reality = Current Reality x 10

With this new formula, we can figure out what goal statements give us more empowering motivation than the common ones I listed above.

Empowering Desired Reality Statements

“I want to have more money”
“I want to be healthier”
“I want to be happier”
“I want to be leaner”

Notice how those statements are not creating brand-new realities, but they deal with “More” and growth? That’s what we want to do with our goals. If we talk about goals as if they’re somehow foreign to us or contrary to who we are now, we breed mental conflict. But if we state goals in a way that still gives credit to who we are, then we can find more motivation to be who we can be when we’re at our best.

When you create a goal for yourself, you absolutely must be sure to use language that fends off the dark side of goal setting. Your goals should make you more! More aligned with your top values, more energetic, more happy, more… you!

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