[blockquote author=”Henry David Thoreau”]What you get by achieving your goals is not as important as what you become by achieving your goals.[/blockquote]

Setting a goal is an American New Years tradition. With each passing year, we retrospectively judge our previous actions and seek to create new habits, skills and outcomes.

But, what is it about goal setting that is so important?

Psychologists have discovered that setting a goal induces the same chemical reaction in our brain that achieving a goal does. This is why we often feel most motivated to achieve a goal during the beginning of the goal setting process.

Essentially, our brain cannot distinguish who we are and who we want to become. A goal can be a self-realization of our true selves, the person we want to become. Psychologists have called this self-realization “the neurology of ownership.”

By setting goals, we take ownership for our lives and our desired outcomes. As of now, we are one month through 2015 and many individuals are letting go of their yearly goals. As the chemical reaction in our brain slows down, so too does our motivation, that is why it is important to utilize the right goal setting methods. In my own life, I create my own goals utilizing four very specific practices.

  1. Make sure the goal is SMART – When creating a goal, it is important to develop specific, measureable, attainable, relevant and timely goals to help establish a strategy to reach that goal.
  2. Write it down – By writing down a goal, we activate a portion of our brain that cognitively processes our desired outcome.
  3. Visualize the goal – It is important for us to tangibly visualize our goal. Visualization serves as a constant reminder of what it is we wish to accomplish.
  4. Go public – Tell people what it is you want to do and how you are going to do it, by doing this you are holding yourself accountable and allowing others to hold you accountable.

By employing these goal-setting methods, achieving a goal is no longer dependant on motivation. These specific methods help establish a strategy to become the person we wish to become.

While we may find that we sway from our goals from time to time, it is important to note that no matter how far we sway, we can always re-establish our goals and start anew.