Goal setting with neuroscience in mind.

AuthorManzo, Nancy


As we head into the last part of the year, many of us start planning a year-end or New Year's retreat. Some will assess how we did in 2012 and prepare goals accordingly for 2013. We all know that making a New Year's resolution usually does not go very far without a good foundation to support it. We may consciously want to make a change or achieve a goal, but without a strong commitment and dedication to action, a resolution quickly becomes stale, and we feel guilty for not achieving it. It is not enough to write it down and hope for the best.

Changing habits is hard, and practicing new behaviors requires discipline and support. Here we offer an updated and science-backed checklist for how to go about setting achievable goals that help you stretch yourself professionally, and still afford flexibility and motivation.

Recent developments in neuroscience give us critical insights into how to set and achieve goals using the power of the brain. Activating whole-brain thinking, imagination and neuroplasticity (the brain's ability to reorganize itself by forming new neural connections throughout life) are three key concepts that will contribute greatly to your success in goal setting for 2013.

We often hear about goal setting using the acronym, S.M.A.R.T., which stands for Specific, Measureable, Achievable, Resourced and Timed. This is a logical, structured and useful way to set goals. It caters primarily to our "left brain." To activate the whole brain, our "right brain" also needs to engage concepts, sensations, creativity and emotion. Once we have a goal, we need to make it come as alive as possible in our brains. Can you see it, imagine it in your mind and create a picture for it in your goal-setting document? The process of neuroplasticity--the ability of our brain to change--is generated not only by doing, but also by imagining. The key to neuroplasticity is attention. If we pay regular attention to our goals, our brains can change in as little as a few weeks--enough to be seen on a brain scan.

Your New S.M.A.R.T. Goal-Setting Checklist

Small--Set goals that stretch you but are small enough to be achievable. It's OK to "think big" and have aspirational goals, such as "I want to be in the leadership ranks of this organization within five years," but break it down into small steps in the interim years that are achievable and get you on track to the bigger goal.

Measured--Short and snappy statements will help you keep...

To continue reading

Request your trial

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT