I’ve always had a problem with the mania around ‘setting goals’ for the New Year. 1st January is just another day, so why is there all this fuss over it? What makes it different to my birthday, or any other day of the year?
Many of us are blessed to be able to stop working for a period in December – whether we celebrate Christmas or not. Traditionally, many of our industries close from 16 December until the first week of January, forcing staff to take a break. This is also the time that schools close and the children are on holiday.
What is great about this (aside from having time to decompress!) is that we now have time to think about the things we have achieved, the people we’ve met and other recent accomplishments. We have the time to really think and do some introspection and this brings me to my dislike of the term ‘goal setting’ and all that it encompasses.
I’ve yet to achieve a goal and experience all the joy and fulfillment that is supposed to bring! You see, the problem with achieving your goal is that it is an end-point and there is nowhere else to go. You then have to set more goals, etc. etc. in a never-ending cycle. And what happens if you don’t achieve your goal? You feel awful, berate yourself, tell yourself that it HAS to be done and generally become a gibbering mess (as creatives are wont to do!) and end up achieving even less.
www.etymonline.com states the following for the origin of the word ‘goal’:
1530s, “end point of a race,” of uncertain origin. It appears once before this (as gol), in a poem from early 14c. and with an apparent sense of “boundary, limit.” Perhaps from Old English *gal “obstacle, barrier,” a word implied by gælan “to hinder” and also found in compounds (singal, widgal). That would make it a variant or figurative use of Middle English gale “a way, course.” Also compare Old Norse geil “a narrow glen, a passage.” Or from Old French gaule “long pole, stake,” which is from Germanic. Sports sense of “place where the ball, etc. is put to score” is attested from 1540s. Figurative sense of “object of an effort” is from 1540s.
I only see the words ‘boundary’, ‘limit’, ‘obstacle’, and ‘barrier’. This is NOT what I want in my life! I want things I can aim for, aspire to, and actually have a chance of achieving! So, in order to keep the A-type personalities amongst us happy, instead of ‘goal-setting’, I suggest ‘hope-setting’. Let’s see what the origins of the word ‘Hope’ are:
Old English hopian “have the theological virtue of Hope; hope for (salvation, mercy), trust in (God’s word),” also “to have trust, have confidence; assume confidently or trust” (that something is or will be so), a word of unknown origin. Not the usual Germanic term for this, but in use in North Sea Germanic languages (cognates: Old Frisian hopia, Middle Low German, Middle Dutch, Dutch hopen; Middle High German hoffen “to hope,” which is borrowed from Low German). Some suggest a connection with hop (v.) on the notion of “leaping in expectation” [Klein].
Here I see words such as ‘trust’, ‘confidence’, and ‘leaping in expectation’ – so much more positive than the words for goal. This is much more encouraging. We are influenced greatly by the words we use and those that the people around us use. We believe the hype and follow the herd. Well, it’s time to STOP! It is time to listen to the words you use and understand the effect they have on you. Would you rather work towards an obstacle or leaping in expectation? I know which one I choose.
Still not convinced? Read this article and let us know your thoughts.
Kim Hunter is a blogger, writer and advocate for independent authors, helping them to achieve their hopes is her hope for 2020. Kim can be found at www.tangowithtext.com.