It’s so frustrating when we make promises to ourselves only to break them. You know the ones I’m talking about…I’m going to cut back on my drinking…I’m going to get in better shape…I’m going to get out of debt…I’m going to network more..I’m going to study more…I’m going to spend more time with my kids…I’m not going to fight with my spouse…I’m going to save up for that beach house…
The list is endless and 9 out of 10 times – the results are the same. What if there was a way to get there? A key to successful goal setting? A process for setting goals that incorporates scientific research to exponentially increase the odds for the next promise you make to yourself?
BE INTENTIONAL: SET MEANINGFUL GOALS
In order to drive change, you need to dive deeper into the goals you want to accomplish. Try taking the time to further explore and understand the WHY in your goal.
A few questions you may want to ask yourself are:
“Why do I want to accomplish this?”
“What will it mean for me if I accomplish this?”
“How will it make me feel if I accomplish this?
For example, if your goal is to lose weight then you should understand why you want to lose the weight, what effect will losing the weight have on your day-to-day life, and what long-term effects will losing weight have on your life. Really take the time to understand why you want to lose the weight and draw motivation from it.
Allow yourself time to explore the goals before throwing them out there. It’s crucial to understand your goals, why you want to achieve them and what achievement of these goals will look like for you.
EASY DOES IT
It’s scientifically proven that our brains are wired for rewards. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter in the brain that plays a key role in reward, motivation, memory, decision-making, and even some body functions. When dopamine is released it gives us the feeling of pleasure as part of our neural reward system. This motivates you to repeat a specific behavior.
It’s possible to manipulate your dopamine levels by setting small goals and then accomplishing them. This is because each time you succeed, the longer your brain stores the information that allowed you to do so well in the first place. Why? Because with EACH success, your brain is releasing dopamine! Hence success breeds more success.
What’s the best way to eat an elephant? ONE BITE AT A TIME
We’ve heard it a thousand times. It makes sense, right? If we try to get it down all at once, we are going to have some major indigestion and it’s just not possible.
The same concept applies to our goals. Don’t think you have to fix everything all at once. Small changes pave the way for bigger changes. Ask yourself, “What can I do today that will help me accomplish my goal.” Use this as a way to stay focused each day while rewarding yourself with bursts of dopamine along the way!
KEEP IT POSITIVE
When setting goals, be sure to frame them in a positive way. Focus on what you want to accomplish instead of what you don’t want to accomplish. This will increase the likelihood that you will actually pursue it and increase your success rate. There are hundreds of studies and theories around the idea that positive thinking promotes positive outcomes. Most recently I read the “The Secret” by Rhonda Byrne and prior to that I’ve been a long time fan of “The Power of Positive Thinking” by Norman Vincent Peale. If you want to get rudimentary, take a trip down memory lane and recall the childhood story of The Little Engine that told himself over and over again, “I think I can, I think I can, I think I can.”
Across all lines of success, there is one thing that each of them have in common. Positive thinking contributes to positive outcomes.
If you want to get into brain chemistry for substantial evidence, consider this. Any type of avoidance will trigger inhibition systems in your brain, where positive goals will trigger approach and rewards motivation. (Hello dopamine). Intellectually this makes perfect sense, so give yourself time to frame your goals in this way.
Once you’ve identified, framed and established a few long-term goals with short-term goals, it’s time to kick-off.
Vision creates a picture for the subconscious mind.
The subconscious is not only responsible for 90 percent of the decisions we make in day-to-day life, but is also the part of the brain that is largely in charge when we are performing creative tasks or charting through unknown territory. The very act of giving your emotional brain a detailed portrait of your end goal also ensures that you will take the steps needed to steer yourself toward it. Articulate your vision with words and a pictures; the more detailed the better. Post this somewhere as a daily reminder and focal point of goals you have set for yourself.