The Science & *Secrets* behind Powerful Goal-Setting

A goal card on my desk at work
A goal card on my desk at work

Grab your white lab coat; we’re going to get scientific for a minute…

There is a part of your brain called the Reticular Activating System (RAS) that regulates arousal. This part of your brain senses aspects of your daily routine and organizes this information so that you are able to recognize the most familiar and significant things without even trying to. For example, because you see, write, or hear your name every day, even when you are in a crowded room full of chatter, you can easily hear someone talking about you. (Like the time in high school when you were walking down the hallway and just so happen to overhear your archenemy talking about your hair).

The best part about your RAS is that it doesn’t know what is unrealistic or fake; it just believes whatever it hears or sees on a regular basis. By feeding your RAS specific information, you can begin to live even your wildest dreams! Here are 3 steps to programming your Reticular Activating System to help you achieve your goals:

  1. Figure out how you want to feel because“words only have the power that you give them.” For example, the word love itself doesn’t evoke a reaction from you, it is the feeling that you get when you see the word love. The goal statement, “I want to be in love” is meaningless if you don’t know what it feels like to be in love. Goals we pursue aren’t necessarily based on things, they are based on feelings. Or think about it like this: you probably don’t work hard to buy a new car because you love mechanics and engineering; you work hard to save money because riding in a new car would make you feel accomplished, independent, or proud. So start by thinking about how achieving your goal will make you feel.
  2. Write your goals in the present tense, by beginning phrases with “I am…” or, “I have…” On the other hand, if you start with “I will…” your subconscious assumes that it isn’t time to achieve this goal yet, and will continue putting it off into the future.
  3. Pair your words with pictures. Your brain “thinks” in the form of images, so you’re more likely to actually see things that you think about often. Like when you were dating that guy that drove a blue Ford, you noticed blue Fords ALL OVER THE PLACE.

Now put it all together:

Put yourself in the moment and imagine how you’ll feel once you achieve your goal. Now write out your goal on a note card, in present tense as if it is currently happening or already happened. Now, find a picture that reminds of you that goal and stick that to the note card alongside your goal statement. Now here’s the tricky part: you have to read your goal statement and look at the picture everyday. This is how you’ll program your subconscious until your brain begins to seek out this goal in real life. Remember, your RAS will only notice what it is already familiar with. But once you start to notice your goal more, you’ll be able to take advantage of opportunities that you may have been overlooking all along! Wallah, magic!

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