If You Want to Set a Goal Don’t Tell The Devil!

New Years Day, Tinto Hill, South Lanarkshire, Scotland


I was listening to the philosopher Alan Watts (1915 – 1973) on You Tube and he came out with a fantastic line that resonated for the new year – ‘If you want to set a goal don’t tell the devil!’ In other words don’t let anyone know what that big goal is, let alone the devil in you!


If you make a big goal and announce it to your self you are very less likely to achieve it. The wee devil sitting on your shoulder will listen and do all it can to trip you up. I know I have heard myself declare a goal and even at the time there’s a voice inside going ‘really!?’


So, you have to trick that devilish side of your own entirely normal human nature and make any goals appear small and stupidly simple. Not really goals at all!  For example if fitness is your goal don’t say ‘I am going to get really fit this year’, simply go for a walk today, do a few stretches right now. If not drinking is your new years resolution – just don’t drink today, don’t declare you’re not drinking ever again, or having a dry January, you probably won’t achieve it. If you want to be more creative, do it now. A drawing starts with one line. So simple. A blog with the first sentence. Don’t set yourself the goal of creating a masterpiece, how scary.


You get the idea? Make change one small step at a time or the devil will have fun proving you wrong and disrupting your big plan. It makes sense to me.


When I first started teaching a very wise friend said to me – ‘Don’t be disheartened if folk sign up to your evening classes and only a few stalwarts finish the course. Don’t take it personally or think it reflects on your teaching. Their higher self signs up for the class thinking self improvement is a wonderful idea, the lower self will look out of the window after a couple of weeks and think ‘it is too dark tonight, too chilly out there, there is a something good on the telly, missing one class won’t matter!’

If the lower self wins once, the game is on the way to being lost, the devil has hung you on his noose and it will just get tighter. Perhaps that’s the reason there are so many millions of pounds wasted in unused gym memberships, or drawers full of unused art materials. The world is full of unacted upon good intention.


(On the subject of gyms, personally I think they are a bit immoral: grown adults running on treadmills when there are so many folk needing help in the world and surely at the very least those treadmills and machines could produce electricity to power the gyms! Don’t shoot me gym lovers, perhaps it’s my wee devil just having a rant!)


So, my new years resolution is to make changes one teeny tiny step at a time, and from an Alexander Technique point of view that’s one thought at a time. I am keeping my goals easy – ‘I let my neck be free!’ The devil ain’t catching me out!


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