Although it may seem counter-intuitive, setting challenging goals is a far more effective tool than setting easily attainable goals. There is, of course, a particular way to set challenging goals that offer both the motivation of difficult trials and the contented feeling of achievability.
We primarily use two parts of our brain during goal-setting exercises. These are called the left prefrontal cortex and the limbic system. The functions of these two systems are very different, but the way they work together can create profound results with respect to achieving your goals.
The Limbic System
The limbic system is where transient functions take place, such as emotion and behaviour. This is the area of the brain that gets you fired up when you are setting your goals—it is the source of inspiration and optimism. When you picture yourself achieving your goals, the limbic system allows you to feel it. This area of the brain plays an important role in goal setting—without it, it would be difficult, if not impossible, for you to aspire to achieve anything.
The Left Prefrontal Cortex
The left prefrontal cortex is responsible for planning, organization, and regulation, which is also highly necessary for goal-setting. This is the part of your brain that works hardest when you’re planning your goals. It is responsible for identifying obstacles and planning immediate objectives and deliverables. This part of the brain requires time, which is why proper goal-setting is not a quick and easy task. This area of your brain will analyze your challenges and take steps to mitigate obstacles, allowing you to properly create a plan to achieve your goals.
Both of these brain functions are important for goal setting, which is why challenging goals are the most effective goals to set. It is hard to get fired up about an easy goal. The challenge aspect engages the limbic system, igniting a passion and an excitement for the future while the left prefrontal cortex plans out the steps to success.
A common mistake that people make when setting goals is believing that goal-setting is a quick and dirty task. The truth is that a goal without a plan is just a dream. Instead of simply dreaming about the things you’d like to accomplish, try to write your goals down and create concrete plans for achieving them. Structure your plans into small achievable tasks. If every sub-task is achievable, then even the hardest of goals become achievable. Stick to your plans. Be disciplined, complete the small tasks and before you know it you will meet your goals, which used to be just dreams.
Let us help you develop a better understanding of the right way to set goals. You will find improvements in the way you manage yourself, your people, and your organization. If you would like to learn more, please contact us. We are always happy to provide a free consultation.