The longings of our hearts desires tend to bubble to the surface as we contemplate and speak into being new resolutions or new habits we want to make. The hope of new beginnings, improving ourselves and setting a time and a goal date fill us with optimism. Many set physical health, self-improvement or psychological health improvements as goals. Unfortunately, research suggests that most of us will fail within the first three months.
It has been widely held since ancient Greek philosophers first proposed that human behaviour is guided by the pursuit of pleasure or avoidance of pain (Elliot & Covington, 2001). Psychological research has indicated poor mental health outcomes are associated with avoidance motivation. So why do we set goals based on the fear of avoiding putting on more weight or fear of failure. This often results in procrastination, avoidance and the reinforcement of feeling helpless.
Changing our mindsets to approach goals with more optimistic positively framed thoughts can change the outcomes of how we feel and how we will act and behave in order to achieve our goals. When we set an avoidance goal we have more negative feelings and have less satisfaction with our progress such as “I don’t want to be overweight.” Setting an approach orientated goals such as, “I’m going to be healthy 6 days a week” sets you in the pursuit of pleasure in being healthy and reassures yourself that this problem is just temporary and that what you do matters. Goals need to be specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and timely in order to be effective.
Martin Seligman (1990) happiness researcher found that optimism builds resilience as individuals can bounce back from setbacks because they expect problems to be just temporary and do not take them personally. Pessimists see setbacks as permanent and personal therefore may struggle to recover from difficulties. Learning to be optimistic enables you to speak forth your goals and dreams from a place of hopefulness rather than helplessness. What you think, speak and do matters. So speak words of hope as you step forward.
Photography: Jocelyn McGillivray
Blog: Cher McGillivray