The secret of goals


There's something that differentiate humans from other creatures: our lives are full of decisions. What do I eat for breakfast? How do I dress today? Should I buy a new phone? Some of these choices have an immediate impact on us, others need planning.


That's why a big part of life is setting goals and reaching them. Neuroscience has taught us the importance of this and how this is intertwined with behavior change.


In this article the author Elliot T. Berkman analyses the fact that setting goals is easy, achieving them is hard. We make up plans when we want to reach a result that wouldn't come up without an external intervention. If we want to lose weight we eat better and exercise more, if we want to change our job we update our resume and look at job postings, for a vacation we study flights, hotels and locations to visit.


The issue is that for our brain changing is hard. We are creatures of habit and when we establish a pattern it is very difficult for us to deviate. We need two main ingredients for this:

  • The way to do it (skills)

  • The motivation (will)

While the reason to reach a target is a psychological requirement, the way to make it happen can be objectively determined.



So the first thing you have to ask yourself is if you really want it. Is it a change that you consciously want to happen or is it due to external pressures? For example, do you want to change your job because you're looking for something new or because your partner would like you to increase your income?

The next thing to ask yourself is: how can I measure my goal? Saying "I want to lose weight" is very different from "I want to lose 5 kg". If you can't define a precise moment when you succeed your target is not well defined. Instead of saying "I want to travel more" define specific activities like "I want to visit Paris, London and Rome".



Determine the step required to reach your goal. Every path to success needs milestones. If I want to open a store I have to do different steps: get a loan from the bank, find the right venue, do the necessary paperworks for the license, buy the furniture, etc. Every milestone is a small target that can be also divided into smaller pieces, until you have a list of simple tasks you need to do in order to achieve the greater ones.



Define a time-frame. Usually this is what most of us do when we think about programming an object, but this must be done realistically. If I've never trained in my life I can't pretend to run a marathon after 3 months. Establish the deadline considering all the steps you analysed in the previous part, and multiply the time by a 1.2 factor. So if you think you're going to need 5 weeks, consider putting your finishing date after 6 weeks. This is important for the next point.



Establish rescue measures: Murphy's law is always ready to strike, so try to provide some way or recover if something goes bad. For example if you need supply try to have different providers, so if one of them is unavailable you're not stuck.



Last but not least: celebrate!

When you reach your goal be sure to treat yourself and your team! Every effort needs to be honored, so be sure to do something fun with your team! Maybe one of our Experiences! Check our site for more info!



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