I used to have a client who hated the word ‘goals’. In every conversation we had, we were going into painstaking efforts to avoid it, using terms such as ‘flow’ and ‘process’ instead, which suggested a more organic and fluid approach to goal setting.
Other people I have worked with recently, got stressed by the use of the term ‘to-do-list’. It implies a chore, something that will require effort, energy and the dreaded feeling of obligation or ‘must’. Instead, they suggested using terms such as ‘achievement list’, which imbues a sense of positivity and satisfactory action.
I’m recently hearing calls to abolish the term ‘failure’ altogether, as people fear it has a negative connotation. Instead, it is suggested that words such as ‘feedback’ or ‘failing forward’ are used to reframe it into something much more positive.
People often have very good reasons why they like or dislike certain terms. Historically, they may have associated them with unhelpful mental images or with trauma’s. It’s up to them whether they feel these associations are harmful enough to be tackled head on, or instead they would rather avoid them altogether.
However the danger with focusing too much on the ‘harmful’ effect of words, is that this can often distract from the positive action that needs to be taken. If where you currently are causes you pain and discomfort, then you need action to effect change, whether this action is pursued through setting ‘goals’, plotting the ‘process’ or actioning ‘achievement lists’.
By all means, use the terminology that inspires and motivates you to achieve what you want in life. But don’t let semantics get in the way of what you need to do right now in order to get results.