Here are some more good reasons not to focus on goals:
- Goals can make all our efforts focused on the goal, and when the goal’s complete the actions stop. Goals can make daily actions things we do as a means to an end rather than something we do because we think they have value. Goals can make those actions temporary, a chore.
- Goals are external outcomes we want to achieve. That means achieving them is often out of our control. If I want to get a new job there are things I can do but in the end an employer must want to hire me. There’s nothing I can do to get a particular job if the employer just doesn’t want to employ me.
- When a goal takes a long time to reach, we can lose interest and give up. Then all that work is lost.
I read a fabulous post by Nadira Jamal, The Belly Dance Geek
When a goal takes a long time to reach, we can lose interest and give up. Then all that work is lost.
Nadira’s reasoning is that when we focus on “achieving the goal”, practice is a means to an end, not a means in itself.
Now the reason I want to dance is that it’s part of who I am, an expression of myself.
Nadira recommends using themes in dance practice. Picking some areas of dance to work on and working on them – selecting from a theme gives more variety for practice, they become a focus but not a prescription, and we choose them.
Translating this into pain management, a theme might be “ways to down-regulate my sensitive nervous system”.
The key, I think, is looking at why we think someone “should” do whatever it is we want them to do. Why should someone do exercises? Is it to be able to do something else? Yes? Then choose a number of activities that will contribute to doing that thing. Let the person decide exactly what to do each day.
Here’s an example: if we want someone to get fitter because this will help them return to work, list all the ways we (and the person) can think to get a bit of exercise into their day.
- Park the car a bit further away from home today, and walk to the park.
- Use the stairs instead of the lift.
- Take a bike ride around the blog.
- Take the dog for a walk.
- Walk along the beach with your partner.
- Build 5 minute exercise “snacks” throughout the day (I use Pomodoro technique to do this)
Let’s instead focus on being, and the doing will happen in a myriad different ways.