It’s the beginning of a new year, many of us are full of enthusiasm for setting goals, but how many of us actually follow through? Why is it that we can be so full of enthusiasm and intention only for it to fall by the wayside?
The simple answer comes down to neuroscience and what is going on in our nervous system at the time of setting these goals.
By definition, “neuroscience” is the study of the nervous system, especially in relation to behaviour and learning. This past year I have been studying with the NeuroLeadership Institute in New York. Along with the nomination for the Stevie Awards, it was the reason I headed to New York City in November.
It’s such a fascinating field that piqued my interest back in 2000 when I studied behavioural neuroscience as part of a Health Science degree. The research that has been done into the study of just how our brains perform in relation to our behaviour has created an awareness of how we can increase the likelihood of success in business and in goal setting.
With this in mind, let’s take a look at how you can set goals in a way that you are going to stick to them.
1. Don’t make the goals too outlandish.
If a goal is going to be too difficult to achieve your brain is not going to respond in a favourable way. For bigger goals, chunk them down into smaller, more achievable goals.
2. Make each goal challenging.
There is a fine line between challenging and unachievable. The brain likes a challenge and will fire up when something isn’t too easy. We all enjoy the sense of achievement we feel when we have successfully met a challenge.
3. Prepare for success.
The old hair care promotion that touted ‘it will happen but it won’t happen overnight’ is a good adage to follow. Knowing that your goals are going to take time and commitment will help you to establish the work ethic and organisation needed for the long haul.
4. Prepare for difficulties.
When you are making plans it doesn’t pay to expect smooth sailing. Most successful achievement stories come with tales of the crises that had to be overcome to reach the goal. If you expect the difficulties from the outset you can both predict and prepare for dealing with them. When they do arise, your brain does not see them as game ender, but rather as another challenge to be overcome.
5. Include accountability.
Neuroscience research shows that when we are held accountable we are much more likely to achieve our goals. Share your plans, particularly with your inner circle and your staff. Attach a timeline to each milestone and arrange meetings to present those goals as they are due.
6. Celebrate every win.
Even when the goals are fairly small, take the time to acknowledge and celebrate each and every achievement, before you move on to the next one. This feeds the reward centre in the brain and fuels you to keep going.