Only 8% of people achieve their goals so in 2019,

Don’t Set Goals; Set Anti-Goals

By Dr. Monica Murphy

When I was 22, I had brain surgery at Beaumont Hospital which in many ways, was the best thing that ever happened to me. I learned very quickly that life is not a dress rehearsal and I pledged to myself that if I made it out intact, I would make the very best of the life I have. I’m not sure I would have been quite so focused and driven had I not had that health scare. So, I went on to travel to 37 countries as part of my work in IT & Telecoms, then moved into the Construction industry, then Outsourcing, before quitting my permanent pensionable PAYE job and starting my own business, MONERE Development Services. As a wise old 40 year old, here are some of the things that I do to continue to make the best out of life.


  1. Forget SMART goals – Anti-Goals is where it’s at
    1. Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Blah and Blah……everyone has heard of SMART goals but how many people actually think in these terms or write them down? Stop and think about it for a minute. Our motivation for AVOIDING a certain outcome is more powerful than ATTAINING a certain outcome. If you don’t believe me, have a look at these examples and see if you are more likely to be an attainer or an avoider?


Task Attaining Avoiding
Brushing TeethPearly Whites for ourselvesSmelly breath that others dislike
Losing weightThe perfect figure for our clothesFeeling negative when we compare ourselves to others
Getting home on timeA wonderful family eveningAn argument over who is most busy and spend least time with children
Finding a new jobThe perfect roleA horrible boss
Finishing a projectThe completed projectThe hassle of not having the project completed
Meeting Sales TargetsSales BonusThe awkward development conversations with boss


See? The strongest motivation for us doing something is usually because it yields a feeling or a consequence that we want to avoid. So, how do you set anti-goals? You write down what you want to avoid. Here’s some examples:


What I want to avoid Actions to prevent
Feeling bad about my personal appearancePlan meals, shop in advance, plan lunches, plan exercise etc.
Poor personal relationshipsPlan time with people most important, be fully present and attentive, forgive and forget, communicate openly and honestly etc.
Reporting to a horrible bossCommunicate with honesty and compassion, seek some mediation, get a new job
Poor sales performanceSeek sales training, plan ahead, know your industry, client and products. Shadow others, learn from mistakes
Completing a personal projectPlan and organise resources, communicate with others involved, research requirements etc.


I’d invite you now to make a short list of your own anti-goals for 2019 so that you do not end up doing/feeling the same way about yourself, your relationships and/or your work this time next year.


  1. Forget Multi-tasking – Uni-tasking is all the rage
    1. Another buzz word that is no longer fashionable is Multi-tasking – in fairness, it had a long spell in vogue when we were being sold the notion that we could be sitting on a beach and writing tender documents at the same time thanks, mostly to telecommunication providers. We are now older and wiser and we know this is not possible. Your brain is similar to a computer, when there are too many windows open, it crashes. You cannot give something that requires and deserves your full attention to more than one thing at a time. You are stressing yourself into a frenzy by pretending that you can. Simple tips to help you here are: Turn off notifications, Mute your phone, Let people know when you are available – and when you are not. Decide on your priorities for the hour, the day, the week, the month and/or the year, and then focus your attention on one task or one person at a time.


  1. Get a support system in place
    1. I was never a team person in school or college. I much preferred to work alone and felt that my standard was the best one. Which is why I found it so difficult to learn the valuable lesson of ‘if you want to go fast, go alone, if you want to go far, go with others’. This was hugely obvious once I established the business. Unless I was going to be able to clone myself and attend all the client meetings, deliver all the training and attend to all the administration that goes with a business, I needed the help of others. So decide on who your chiefs are and let them know what you are planning and for when. Make sure you have the right people around you and for the most part, this is a gut feeling. Each time I had the wrong person on the team, I knew from the start but decided to ignore it. This is silly, costly and unproductive. A support system is also necessary in your personal life – speak to your loved ones about your plans. When I was trying to make the big decision of whether or not to start a business, I had many fraught conversations with my husband who is more risk-averse than I. I ultimately needed his support to pick up the day-to-day stuff like shopping, housekeeping and family events so that I could give it 100% of my time. Once I had his support for starting a business, I explained that I’d also like to start my PhD and therefore some other plans were further delayed.


  1. Put off the Procrastination
    1. Nike put it best – Just Do It. Eat the fecking Frog, or Pig or Elephant or whatever you are having yourself. When you are checking your social media for the 4th time before noon, cop on to yourself and ask if there is anything better you could be doing with your time. Star Jumps come to mind, Cleaning your bedroom clutter, reading a book – you will get the right answer. According to a recent study from an international accounting and consulting firm, we are spending up to 4 hours and 30 minutes a day on our mobile devices. Imagine what you could do in 4 and a half hours – run a marathon – amongst other things. We coach teams as part of our business services to allow them to work more effectively together and the most common rebuttal I hear for tasks is ‘We don’t have time’. Yes you do. And ok, sometimes you DON’T GET PAID FOR THE TIME YOU SPEND. But, in most industries, you will have to begin by doing MORE than what you get paid to do, to eventually get paid MORE than for what you actually do.


So there you are armed with a few simple tips to get 2019 off to a cracking start. If you need some help along the way, we can work with you on a 1:1 basis or as part of a team to hold you accountable for your anti-goals.

Get in touch today on 058 75000 or email


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