The science behind goal setting

What happens to your mindset when you set goals?

It gives you an amazing power to achieve.

In our post “Three Things To Change the Game and Ensure Your Success,” you would have learnt that people are 42% more likely to achieve their goals by writing them down. That is true, but why is it so?

If you just think about your goals, you are activating the emotional side of your brain, but if you write them down, you’re activating the logical side. You are getting the whole brain working for you.

All the information that enters your brain comes in through a section called the Reticular Activating System, or RAS for short. It sorts through the millions of bits of data the brain receives every minute and works out what is important and what is not.

This area at the back of your brain helps determine what you will focus on. It switches your attention on when something useful comes in. For example, the summer is hot, so you start thinking it might be a good idea to buy an air conditioner. Now, from within the blur of TV ads each night, you will suddenly start to notice those with air conditioners on sale. That’s your RAS in action.

To make the RAS produce the best results, you need to tell it what is important to you. That’s what you do when you start visualising and writing down your goals. In his book, “Getting things Done,” David Allen talks about the power of goals and says, “Even your physiology will respond to an image in your head as if it were reality.”

By setting your goals and starting to plan your way there, you’re telling your brain what’s important. The RAS will do the rest. As it sorts through the data coming in, it will pull out anything that might help you reach your goal. Ideas, tools, possibilities, people… Your goal is a real vision – a reality.

What the brain is doing is helping you achieve your goals. You don’t have to have the answers at your fingertips. “How” isn’t important when you are starting out. It’s the direction that matters. The RAS will help you by pointing out opportunities ahead.

Now you will understand why there is so much emphasis on goal setting. It gives you a clarity of focus which helps your brain respond as if your vision is already real, and the RAS starts bringing your attention to the things that will help you get there.

Every day, make a point of looking at your goals and plans. You will be surprised at how well the RAS works to bring to your attention anything that might help or impact on them.

The way the brain works is fascinating. In my free online coaching program to Set yourself up For Success you will learn more about how to make your brain work for you. Pop over to the Athena Coaching website and join us now.

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