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AHA!: Your Brain on Goals

This time of year, motivation experts, writers, and coaching gurus are all talking about goals. While having goals (or resolutions, if you wish) can do enormous good in your life, they can also lead to gobs of frustration. Discouragement.

An “Aha” About Goals

Goals are vehicles, not destinations.

More than a handful of my clients visibly deflate at the mere suggestion of goals. It’s understandable given disappointing experiences. Some people may only know about goals in the context of work where pressurized expectations masquerade as “goals.” Is it any wonder that goals have a bad rap?

I want to point out the one aspect of goal setting that's been useful to me and my clients.

The greatest value of goals isn’t the outcome they describe, but the change in your reality they spark.

Goals do this in two important ways.

First, our brains are wired to filter information—we see what we’ve practiced seeing. Traveling through a train station, a graphic designer notices signage, a sanitation worker notices the rubbish, and a writer sees stories in interactions between people.

If you ask yourself to imagine the best possible outcome for your life in the next six months, you will create a picture of your future. That process gives your brain instructions. Allowing yourself to roam into the future (cognitively, imaginatively), affects your present—what you're focusing on now. It opens you up to possibilities—an opportunity, a detail, a person, an offer, a "something" that resonates and would have otherwise gone unnoticed..

Want to see it in action- try this!

Second, any obstacle, consideration, or habit that has kept you from shining your brightest in the past will likely show up again. Goals set up a meeting between you, and you. This has enormous potential for growth and can be the juiciest work of all!

Goal setting is really about seeing something new and coming face-to-face with yourself. It can be a potent process that, unguided, often goes awry right at the start. More later.


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