Put it in the Positive

I don't want to be poor.  I don't want a boring job.  I don't want . . .

I hear a lot of people formulate their goals in the negative.  I'm actually amazed at how people can quickly pile up the negatives (and this comes from a guy with a deep cynical streak).  Negatives, however, are a terrible way to formulate your goals, sure you may have some, if only by default – but they can't be a driver for you.

Negative goals are goals you will never, ever meet because you're trying to measure a lack.  No matter how much you may NOT have something in your life you can never be sure its not there, or won't be there.  Negative goals can make you a bit paranoid if you overdo them.

Negative goals are difficult to formulate (though people will try, out of fear and concern).  How to you express a negative anyway?  Much as you can't measure such a goal, you may have trouble formulating it when you sit down and think about it.

Negative goals are hard to plan for.  How do you plan to exclude/ward off something for sure?  You can't.  Playing defense is necessary, but if it's all you play, you'll find yourself trapped in endless scenarios about what could go wrong.

Finally, negative goals crowd out positive goals – goals you can set, and measure as there IS something to measure.  Focus on them too much and at best you'll be able to ensure your life isn't miserable for the time being – at best.

So when you're setting your goals, think positive.  You'll achieve more goals, be happier, and probably be saner.

– Steven Savage