I spent a summer in college training in different warfare specialties as part of my Navy ROTC scholarship. One week during the training, my fellow cadets and I were invited to go out on one of the Navy's crown jewels: an Aegis destroyer.
These extraordinary ships were the first of their kind. The technology of them is beyond the scope of my full understanding, but at the basic level, they work like this: When a missile fired from the ship neared its target, it was able to detect the scattered energy coming from that target and adjust both its trajectory and momentum based on this data.
This was called painting the target, and these ships could do it with incredible precision.
Why am I telling you this? Because painting the target is exactly what your brain must do anytime it wants to accomplish a goal.
Your brain is goal-oriented. When you set a goal, your mind subconsciously makes a number of assessments about how far away that goal is (proximity), how likely you are to achieve it (the size of the target), and the effort (thrust) it will take to get there. As you work toward the goal, your brain is constantly calculating and recalculating these three variables.
Creating more positive perceptions of our goals can dramatically increase our engagement, focus, productivity and motivation, and thus increase the speed by which we attain them. Here's how you can start painting the target in your own life: