Wellness Wednesday: Don't Snooze on Setting New Goals
Have you made your resolutions for the year? Keeping your resolutions can be challenging, but the feeling of accomplishment that comes from following through makes it all worthwhile. It’s important to set goals year-round—even if you meet your resolutions early on in the year. It’s good to get in the habit of setting new goals so you can aim on future milestones. Maybe you want to take more classes, pay down debt, volunteer to help your community, learn a new trade or explore a new career path, or just focus on getting healthier. There’s always something you can do to help you move ahead.
The Science of Achievement
Achieving your goals is a great way to build up dopamine in your brain. Dopamine is the chemical responsible for feelings of accomplishment. When you complete an important task, that triggers your dopamine which gives you a powerful feeling of reward and recognition. It’s your body’s way of regulating and promoting motivation. It gives you a chemical incentive for following through on your goals.
The Art of Goal-Setting
Self-help author and habit-forming expert James Clear has written an insightful piece on how to improve your ability to set goals. When setting goals, it’s important to keep these factors in mind:
- Select for success: It can be easy to fall victim to the paralysis of choice and not know which goal to pursue. Focus on goals you can easily measure and are realistic to achieve. Your goal should be something sustainable that maintains your focus.
- Create an environment for success: James Clear recommends you "align your environment with your goals." What that means is keeping the things you want to do close at hand and keeping obstacles and stumbling blocks out of sight and out of mind. Want to drink more water? Always keep a bottle close to your bed, workspace, and other areas where you frequently are. Looking to cut down on drinking alcohol or eating sweets? Don’t keep any in the house.
- Be specific & measure your progress:
The more general your goal, the harder it will be to see any real progress. If your goal is to lose weight, saying “I’ll lose 10 pounds” gives you something achievable versus “I will lose weight.” Having a specific goal means you have to track from week to week. Seeing those small micro-accomplishments stack up as you work toward the Big Goal will provide dopamine surges to keep you motivated and enthusiastic.