What we should ‘not’ learn from religions about goal setting.


I have a real problem with religions (Not just one. I have many. But I am just mentioning one here)

A lot of them operate in ‘donts’. Don’t do this, don’t do that. Don’t eat this. don’t drink that. Don’t dress like this, don’t talk like that.

One of the dialogues from my favourite movie of all times sums it up.

“I can give you the ten commandments in ten words: Don’t, don’t, don’t, don’t, don’t, don’t, don’t, don’t, don’t, don’t.” – The Man from Earth

"DeMilleTenCommandmentsDVDcover" by TBA. Licensed under Fair use of copyrighted material in the context of The Ten Commandments (1956 film) via Wikipedia - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:DeMilleTenCommandmentsDVDcover.jpg#mediaviewer/File:DeMilleTenCommandmentsDVDcover.jpg
“DeMilleTenCommandmentsDVDcover” by TBA. Licensed under Fair use of copyrighted material in the context of The Ten Commandments (1956 film) via Wikipedia –

May be it’s the influence from these religions, a lot of us have a similar attitude when it comes to setting goals and behaviours. We set negative goals.

“ I will not eat chocolates and ice-cream”

“ I will not be late again”

“I will not procrastinate”

This is a pretty bad strategy. I will explain it with a story I read a long time ago. I am not a spiritual man as such, but this is one story from Osho that I always remember.

A man was riding a bicycle, and he saw a big pot hole on the road. He saw it from a distance, and he kept telling himself. “I will not fall into that, I will not fall into that, I will not fall into that.”.

You can guess what happened.

He fell right into it

The same is with all of us. When we set ourselves a goal that focuses on not failing, we are setting ourselves up for failure.

Think of the top athletes you know of. Usain Bolt does not go into a race thinking that he will not lose. Instead, he focuses on winning. The same with Michael Phelps, or Michael Schumacher, or any other top athlete you can think of.

Think of your goals in positives.

Instead of “ I will not eat chocolates and ice-cream”, try “I will eat more fruits and vegetables”

Instead of “I will not be late ever again”, try “I will always reach on time”

Instead of “ I will not procrastinate”, try “I will finish tasks well ahead of time”

It makes a lot of sense physiologically too. Our brains are wired to better understand what we should do than what we should not.

Set positive goals, and you will have an easier time achieving them.

And about religions.

I like the ones that tell me

Be good, be kind. Love everyone. Make friends.

That works much better.

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