Stop Using This Word If You Want To Maximize Your Potential in the New Year

Stop Using This Word_Maiko Sakai

The word in question is everywhere and, of course, all over social media. The next 3 months is THE season for this word to pop up even in many ads. Can you guess what that is?

The Word is: Goal(s).

“Have you set your goals for the next year?”
“Do you have goals for your business?”
“7 goal-setting tips for the new year”

Coupled with the, ‘resolution’, you will start seeing similar posts or polls like these very soon if not already in your social media timelines and feeds.

Goals are great. Knowing what you want to achieve personally and professionally is important. However, I feel that psychological impact of the word, goal(s), has been diminishing over time.  It almost feels lukewarm. 

After giving some thought, I figured out why, at least for me.  It is because goals are something we work towards.  We set them, we put them to be the end point in the near future in our minds somewhat vaguely even with deadlines, and we start moving towards that direction.  For this, goals do not seem to hold us accountable as much unless there is an imminent danger if we do not accomplish whatever we set goals for.

We often say, “That was our goal. At least we tried.”  This may be OK if we accomplish majority of our goals, but what if this becomes more habitual?  What else can we use to replace this word so that it feels more real and makes us sit up a little more to get serious?

Replace “Goal(s)” with “Expected Outcome(s).”

The solution is to replace the word goal with a term “expected outcome(s).” 

The word “outcome” is a result of an act or a series of acts, and it forces us to reverse our thinking process to start from the end point.  In many cases, expected outcome(s) represents benefits or rewards we want to obtain by doing something that isn’t easy to do.  In other words, it forces us to be very specific about what we expect to achieve and why as opposed to just setting goals which often are acts that are not easy to do.

I am going to use weight loss as an example.

We normally say to ourselves, “My goal is to lose X pounds this year.”  Here losing weight is an act and describes less of what that entails after we achieve this goal.  Instead, we say, “My expected outcome is to look great in clothes I always wanted to wear by losing 10 pounds.”  It may be subtle, but the effect can be much more impactful because we are now painting a full picture of what the outcome of losing weight would entail.  In this case, we are going to look great, which would make us feel good and confident.  By replacing the word “goal(s)” with “expected outcome(s),” it encourages us to strategize more since the starting point of our thinking is the outcome (end point) and not the present moment where we try to move away from.

It is also important to point out that the psychological effect of the word “expected.”  The word puts us in the mindset where we are acknowledging whatever the outcome we seek is going to happen.  In our mind, it is not a goal; it is a fact.   Therefore it holds us more accountable to ensure whatever it is will take place.

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Kicking Up Another Notch by Drafting “Affirmation.”

While we are in a process of changing our behavior by replacing a commonly used word, why not kick it up another notch by starting a new routine incorporating “expected outcomes”?

Affirmation is a very popular practice in the area of self-improvement.  I only learned about this from the book, “The Miracle Morning” by Hal Elrod.  (  In the book, Elrod explains how he incorporates affirmation to be part of his early morning routine to gain clarity and focus before he starts his day.  It is a list of statements that you are determined to accomplish, and the list needs to describe what they are and how to achieve them.  This is a powerful tool that keeps our mind razor-focused on our expected outcomes as we routinely remind ourselves why we do what we do to obtain outcomes we desire.

Although there are countless ways to draft an affirmation, my recommended method is to create two separate sections. 

The first section is a list of expected outcomes you seek followed by a second section where you outline what needs to be done to attain those outcomes backed with numbers such as a duration of time each would take, quantity, frequencies, etc. 

The reason I suggest separating the “what” from the “how” is because you can read your desired outcomes alone first to put an extra emphasis on end results.  In a way, this is the act of engraving them in your brain to set a stage before starting your day.  Also separating the two makes it easier to update the “how” section time to time as this section can be incremental to generate expected outcome(s).

Are you ready to get started?  Go ahead and start listing your expected outcomes that will help you maximize your potential in this coming year!  From there, work your way backwards to determine what steps to take and how; then document them in a form of affirmation.  Be sure to keep your affirmation visible where you can see it at all times.  Preferably you read it aloud regularly.

No more goals; just expected outcomes.  Share your thoughts on what your expected outcomes are and what your creative approach for generating results in the comment section below.