The Secret of Positive vs Negative Goals in Self-Motivation

Aspyn Coaching
The Secret of Positive vs Negative Goals in Self-Motivation

How you talk to yourself influences how you face your goals. This simple statement can pack a real punch in your approach to setting goals. There are two ways to write personal goals; "Do" and "Don't". there's a difference between telling yourself to "Be present" or "Don't tune out". You can tell yourself to work harder or not to relent. You may have even noticed that you respond differently depending on how you word the goal itself.

Our personalities shape how we respond to wording and concepts. We respond differently to the same goal stated positively ("do") or negatively ("don't). Maybe you strive in response to encouragements, maybe you respond best to reminders not to quit. For many, it depends on the subject and effort at hand. 

Exploring goals is an empowering process. This article will outline how to achieve self-motivation with the right use of both positively and negatively stated goals.

Identify Your "Do" and "Don't" Goals
Everyone has a way of speaking to themselves, or self-talk. Some people are positive with themselves, some are habitually negative. You can identify this pattern in how you set your goals. Do you encourage or discourage yourself? What works best for you?

Write down your goals and organize them into whether you state them in a positive or negative way. Note if it's been working for you, and what the opposite way to state each goal might look like.

The Value of "Don't"
Many people benefit from "Don't quit" reminders when they're striving their hardest toward a goal. Reminders not to skip practice, and even notes discouraging mindless snacking can make a big difference in your goal seeking strategy.

"Do" Reminders and Reassurances
You may also respond to reminders to reach for your goals, be your best self, or encouragement to maintain a successful streak. Positive goals can make you feel good about aiming for them each day and remind you why you are trying.

Experiment with Positive vs Negative Goals
Try changing the way you talk to yourself, or expand your goal set to include both positive and negatively stated goals. Look for ways to benefit yourself with reminders for what to keep doing or what to avoid doing. Positive goals help you add habits and encourage yourself while negative goals can help you remove habits and work against your known tendencies to make more efficient self-progress.

Beneficial Positive Goal Examples
  • Drink more water
  • Check your mirrors
  • Beat your best score!
  • Learn a new language
Remember to exercise after you wake up

Beneficial Negative Goal Examples
  • Don't forget to brush
  • Don't snack without a plan
  • Don't forget to lock the door
  • Don't miss the train
  • Don't panic

Write Down Your Goals and Results
Keep track of how you state your goals and how you respond to your own self-talk. A planner is a great place to lay out your goals, progress, and self-assessment to help better understand your own self-management techniques.

Write down your negative goals and your success in reaching positively stated statements. Then write down your negative goals and how helpful reminders to avoid behavior or mistakes were in reaching better results.

Don't forget to note your own satisfaction. You may enjoy encouraging or warning yourself more in specific pursuits, which can make your goals more fun to reach. Knowing yourself is more powerful than any single recommended strategy. Use your journal and your self-awareness to build goals that work best for your own internal motivational structure.

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