How goal setting turned me into Monica’s mother.
We live in a world of #youcandoanything. Like many people, I bombard myself with empowering Instagram quotes. I have become quite the inspiration addict.
Inspiration should be handled with care.
My best sources of #youcandoit quotes combine two themes:
- #followyourdreams (i.e. focussed goal setting); and
- #selflove (i.e. be kind to yourself in the process).
The result: set goals and hope to achieve things whilst being kind and encouraging yourself as you make moves to begin, work and achieve.
In my experience, the first without the second causes fatigue, adrenaline overload and an unhealthy tunnel vision.
I hadn’t considered how my #selflove was manifesting itself and had a horrible realisation. There is a disastrous internal miscommunication going on.
So… to the Friends analogy.
Everyone’s seen the Friends episodes when Monica’s mother directs a constant stream of criticism Monica’s way. Let’s presume that this is well intended and that she loves Monica and wants the best for her.
Monica and the rest of us perceive the criticism as destructive and mean. The reaction: resistance, anger and a shutting down.
Just like Monica’s mother, my goal-setting-self has the best of intentions. When I set goals I want the best for myself and it comes from a place of self development.
However, when I communicate the goals to myself my gut hears (or feels) me:
(A) guilting myself into doing things; and
(B) feeling shame when I don’t manage to do those things.
I have realised that, despite my good intentions, my inner voice has become as destructive and mean as Monica’s mother.
I use this voice in relation to creative productivity, eating, exercise, posture… all of it. Demanding impossible standards and criticising failure.
Now that I’ve noticed, I’m trying to be kinder and it seems to be going well.
I’ve tried a few things to teach my goal-setting voice to be kinder. Here’s what I’ve found helpful:
- Big wishes: The classic coach question is: what would you do if money, your ego (etc…) wasn’t an issue? Instead ask: what would you wish for yourself in your life in relation to your work, home, creativity, family, [insert other important categories]. Write constantly for 2 minutes, 5 minutes or 20 minutes and see how it feels.
- 3 daily wishes: each day, instead of writing a to-do list, make three wishes for yourself that day. Be as specific as possible. Again, see how it feels.
- Listening out for Monica’s Mom: Always listen out for Monica’s Mother voice and, where possible, try to rephrase the criticism and be kind.
- Done list: Taking time at the end of each day to do a “done” list rather than a to do list can be satisfying.
I’d be really interested to hear ways that others deal with this inner voice.
Thanks for reading.