Dr. Deb’s Mental Health Vitamin: Setting goals
“Don’t tell me to reach for the stars when there are footprints on the moon.” – Paul Brandt, country music artist
By Dr. Deb Wade
GCU Vice President, Counseling and Psychological Services
Are you one who sets goals and strives daily to meet them? Or are you one who never dares to set goals because your confidence has waned and you fear failure?
It is true that some folks seem very goal-oriented and seem to have a life plan of what they want and how they plan to achieve it. Others are satisfied with where they are now and do not feel a need to disturb the status quo. Still others fear and/or avoid goal-setting because they have “listened” to someone place limits on their attempts to tackle and win the prize.
Sadly, some folks walk around hearing voices inside their heads … and the messages are not inspiring but are condemning. Words like, “You’ll never …” or “you can’t …” or “you’re not …” can swim around in one’s psyche and derail any attempt to pursue greater heights.
Sometimes, however, the words in one’s own head being “listened to” are not from the past but are actually a message to self; for example, “I can’t …” or “I’m not …” or “I’ll never” or ultimately, “Why try?”
Those negative voices taunt you whenever you set a goal. They criticize you when life gets difficult. They beat you down when you struggle to stand up against the running commentary.
You know that you shouldn’t let self-doubt or negative voices bother you, but they’re sneaky critters. Sometimes you just can’t contain the voices and they slip past your barriers.
You see, self-doubt and/or past negativity are greedy. When they’re loose, these negative messages devour your confidence, strip logic and reason from your mind and steal happiness from your heart. In return, they leave you with only fear and insecurity.
And it seems that the more you fight haunting voices from the past, the more they fight back, consistently swirling in your brain that you’re not worthy, not able, not equipped and not enough. Whew!
How to quiet the committee of negative voices in your head? It’s possible!
- Write some affirmations about yourself! Do a thorough inventory and acknowledge the positive qualities about yourself. “I am smart.” “I am a great salesman.” “I am empathetic to others’ pain.” “I am a loving and caring mother.”
- Replace old negative voices with positive statements that are true today!
- “You’ll never amount to anything” … to … “You are an accomplished artist.”
- “Why would you even try to compete?” … to … “You have worked extremely hard and are ready to compete.”
- “That was a dumb thing to do.” … to … “I will try until I succeed.”
- Look behind at the last goal you completed and celebrate! It’s easy to listen to a negative voice that minimizes your accomplishment. Instead, give yourself credit and celebrate … only then are you ready to set your next goal!
- Find five adjectives that you can use to describe yourself and feel good about them! Smart, pretty, accomplished, hard-working, caring! Comical, talented, entertaining, engaging, successful! Handsome, strong, loving, intuitive, friendly! Sincere, soft-spoken, committed, feisty, diligent! You see … the list can grow and grow. Eventually, your list will override the “weeds” that have been allowed to grow in your brain!
- Exterminate the negative critters of criticism and condemnation! Every time your inside voice becomes one of negativity or you allow yourself to be shackled by hurtful words of the past, swipe them away and say to yourself, “I refuse to be influenced by voices that no longer have merit. Be gone!” The more you wipe them away, the sooner they will get the message and die. Remember, past voices can only inhibit and hurt you IF you allow them to. Be a bully on old voices and kick them to the curb.
So go ahead and set those lofty goals! Look ahead and commit to a plan of action! The only “voice” in your head should be the one who is cheering you on and celebrating your initiative! There are footprints on the moon … anything is possible!