Shhh, don’t tell anyone

When I teach goal setting in prisons, which I do about 10 times a year, I am acutely aware that inmates already know how to set goals.

After all, planning a crime includes all the steps to goal setting – conceiving of what you want, calling in the resources, working out an action plan and a contingency plan if something goes wrong, then going our there and doing it.

When I point this out to the prisoners they often look a little embarrassed.

Secret 1

Humans naturally set goals.

You do it often. I do it often. Inmates do it often – even when in prison. Some examples:

  • I’ll finish this work, then make a cup of tea …
  • I’ll talk to XYZ in the break, and see how we can sort out the mess …
  • I’m gonna play golf on the weekend. mmm who shall I invite? …
  • I so want to go to Thailand next year. When can I go? How much will I need? …
  • I’m going to apply for the Heart-work program so I can increase my chances of parole…

Yes, you and I are already natural goal setters.

I have had a few clients who are not interested in setting big, huge, life-time goals.  These are successful people I am talking about.

Most goal setting programs tell you to have a hairy, huge, audacious goal otherwise your life is meaningless.


Secret 2

You do not have to have hairy, huge, life-changing goals.

You don’t have to have any goals.

Unless you want them.

Some clients who come to me are still working on goals, just not huge, out-there, extraordinary goals. Unless they want them.

Mostly, these clients are working on far more important goals which  bring more meaning to their lives.

These are goals of how they want to BE in life.

It can be hard work changing who you are. The rewards?

The rewards are growing self-esteem, liking yourself more, feeling good about yourself.

Who doesn’t like to feel like that?

What kind of person would you like to be? How will you show up in the world?

Secret 3

Feelings have a HUGE role to play in goal-setting.

Feelings are your guide as to whether it is worthwhile to pursue the goal or not.

Secret 3 is what prisoners, natural goal setters,  are missing.

razor-wire-1417465_1280Imagine planning a crime. See yourself holding some-one up. See yourself ransacking a room. See yourself in a mad escape. See yourself enjoying the fruits of your labour –  looking over your shoulder all the time, feeling fear when hearing police sirens. See yourself being caught.

Feeling anxious, stressed, afraid, guilty, nervous?

Now imagine the kind of person you want to BE in the world.

Imagine being more assertive, for example. See yourself saying YES and being pleased you did. See yourself saying NO and being pleased you did. See yourself speaking up in meetings. See yourself taking control of your team. See yourself standing up for yourself. See people treating you respectfully. See people coming to you for advice.

Feeling good, contented, grounded?

castle-gate-1022177_1280How about you?

Goal-setting comes naturally to you, even if you were not aware of it.

Now that you are aware, is it going to be a BIG goal or a BEING goal? Or NO goal(which is a goal in itself)?
Now picture yourself living that goal. What feelings do you experience? Does it shift the goal? Does it excite you? Do you feel good about yourself?

If it’s still worthwhile get out there and take action.

It may be hard for an egg to turn into a bird;
it would be a jolly sight harder
for it to learn to fly while remaining an egg.
You are like an egg.
You cannot go on indefinitely
being just an ordinary, decent egg.
You must be hatched or go bad.
C. S. Lewis

All Images from



About Kirsten Long

Coach. Toastmaster. Prison-worker. Wife. Mother. Friend.
This entry was posted in awareness, forgiveness, Goal-setting, Life Mastery, Self esteem, Way of Being. Bookmark the permalink.