Is there something you want to accomplish? Something you desperately want to do but cannot seem to achieve?
We have all been in that funk before. The best way to overcome that is a change in outlook. Develop a goal-oriented mindset—it is that simple! Lucky for us, our brain is programmed to love a good challenge, because we get rewarded by a hormone in the brain called dopamine.
The mesolimbic pathway in the brain carries dopamine to different parts of the brain, including the frontal lobe––the sector responsible for motivation. To the brain, achieving a goal is considered an extrinsic reward. Say you did not like doing something, but you still pushed through to accomplish it. That reward of completion brings a sense of satisfaction to the brain through the rush of dopamine you get when completing a task.
When dopamine is released, the body releases cortisol and oxytocin which reduces stress. The body also releases serotonin which is the brain’s happy chemical. So goal setting and achieving those goals are very good for the body.
We get it, set goals! But how can we do that? The trick to obtaining a goal-oriented mindset is breaking down goals to make them more manageable. We need to set our goals “SMARTER.” Dr. Edwin A. Locke, a specialist in motivation with a Ph.D in psychology, invented the SMART acronym rule, which was examined and extended over time. Now, think about your goal and apply these SMARTER principles.
Specific: you need to focus on only one particular goal.
Measurable: you need to monitor your progress qualitatively or quantitatively.
Achievable: set flexible boundaries that suit you.
Realistic: is it something that you actually can do?
Time: give yourself a time frame to accomplish your goal.
Evaluative: does your goal fall into your personal values?
Rewarding: you obtain your goal and dopamine gives your brain its reward.
Nothing is impossible. Sometimes you just need to take a step back and look at your goals in a different way. So, go out and challenge yourself. You might be surprised at the things you can do.
Graphic by @sundaeghost