Approach Goals vs. Avoidance Goals

January 1, 2014



This 2014, set your goals; but use Approach Goals rather than Avoidance Goals.

In one of our alumni basketball games many years ago, the score was tied with less than two-minutes left in the game. The opposing team fouled a teammate in the act of shooting. Before our fouled teammate went to the free throw line, one of our guys told him, “Don’t miss the free throw.” Our fouled teammate badly missed both.

Fortunately, we recovered after that. We were leading by two points with 10 seconds left. The player I was guarding got the ball outside the three-point line. I was trash talking (a colloquial term in basketball to intimidate an opponent) him the whole time and urged him to shoot the ball: “Shoot mo!” sige “Shoot mo!” He shot a three-pointer at the top of the key (the center of the court). BOOM! It went in with no time left in the shot clock. In my face! OUCH! We lost by one point.


What happened? Our guy who tried to encourage our teammate taking the free throw shot, gave an avoidance goal… “Don’t miss the free throw.” Having an avoidance goal increased the likelihood of the very outcome he professed to prevent. It’s like the girl I watched in an episode of American Idol during the team rounds. She continuously reminded herself, “Don’t forget the lyrics, Don’t forget the lyrics.” When her turn came, she forgot the lyrics.

On the other hand, I told the opposing player to “Shoot the Ball,” I gave him an approach goal inadvertently, and he won the game for his team. Instead of saying “Shoot Mo,” I should’ve said “Huwag mo shoot, ikaw ang mag papatalo.”

This year, start making Approach Goals and stop making Avoidance Goals.

For example, if you want to court someone, instead of saying “I don’t want to be rejected again,” say “I want her to like me.” So if you want to succeed, say, “I want to succeed” and never say, “I don’t want to fail.”

Shoot the ball! You can do it!

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