The Magic (Actually Science) of Goal Setting!

The Magic (Science Actually) of Goal Setting

We all have dreams, aspirations, and desires that we want to achieve in life. From climbing the ole career ladder to improving our health and financial status, setting goals is a powerful way to turn these dreams into reality. But goal setting isn’t just about wishful thinking; it’s a science-backed process that, when done effectively, can lead us on a path to success and fulfillment. Let’s explore the science behind goal setting and uncover practical strategies to help you achieve your dreams.

Setting goals has a powerful effect on our subconscious in ways neuroscience is beginning to uncover. Numerous successful people in the past have believed in the power of writing down goals, but often attributed the power it has to some mystical force. Now, science has uncovered the reasons why setting goals has such a powerful impact on us and supercharges our brains for success.

Let’s take a look at how this works, and stick in until the end for a challenge!

The Power of Clarity

The first step in the science of goal setting is gaining clarity about what you want to achieve. However there is an important caveat; specificity. Specificity is key. Goals cannot be something along the lines of “I want to be rich.” I mean, ok. Join the club. But something that nebulous is just a dream. Setting a goals needs specificity. We recommend the time-honored S.M.A.R.T. approach to goal setting. Goals should be specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and (very importantly) time-based. When you have a clear vision of your desired outcomes, it becomes easier to chart a roadmap towards success. And also, your mind gets to work on creating pathways, and starts priming your brain to look for opportunities to meet these goals.

The Neurology of Goal Setting

Goal setting is deeply rooted in the brain’s reward system. When we set and achieve goals, our brain releases dopamine which is basically “the happiness chemical.” This neurochemical reward reinforces positive behaviors and motivates us to continue working towards our objectives. By setting and accomplishing smaller milestones along the way, we can maintain a steady flow of dopamine, keeping us focused and driven. This positive feedback loop will make achieving goals more desirable and more rewarding! So if you are not used to this, feel free to start small to get some wins under your belt, but definitely stick with the SMART method.

Setting Realistic and Challenging Goals

Life exists in balances. It’s important to exercise, but not too much or you’ll get injured! It’s important to diet, but don’t lose weight too fast because you’re less likely to keep it off! Goal setting is the same. While it’s essential to aim high, setting overly ambitious goals that are unrealistic can be demotivating and discouraging. Finding the right balance between achievable and challenging is crucial. Break down your long-term goals into smaller, manageable tasks, and celebrate each milestone you achieve. That is super important. Celebrate! This positive reinforcement will keep you motivated throughout your journey.

Visualization and Affirmation

Visualization is a powerful technique used by top athletes and successful entrepreneurs. Take a few moments each day to visualize yourself achieving your goals. As goofy as it might sound, it actually does have a profound affect on our minds! Imagine the steps you’ll take, the challenges you’ll overcome, and the ultimate triumph of accomplishing your dreams. Complement this practice with affirmations, positive statements that reinforce your belief in your abilities. By consistently visualizing and affirming your success, you rewire your subconscious mind and build the self-confidence necessary to achieve your goals.

Commitment and Accountability

Goals become more attainable when you make a commitment to yourself to follow through. You are far more likely to achieve goals that you share. So share your goals with a trusted friend, mentor, loved one, or coach who can hold you accountable. Regular check-ins and honest discussions about your progress can help you stay on track and overcome potential obstacles. Don’t make your goals “fire and forget.” Revisit them with regularity.

Embracing Failure as a Learning Opportunity

We say it often (to be precise we say it in this post, and this one, and this one… and this one) but we at the Arise Tribe love failure! Failure is life’s greatest teacher. The difference between people who achieve and people who don’t often boil down to their attitude towards failure. Have you ever met someone who pretends they don’t make mistakes or fail? Not only are these people remarkably insufferable to be around, but more to the point they are robbing themselves of the opportunity to level up. Failure is your pathway to greatness! If you don’t believe me, let’s check out two of my very favorite quotes on failure.

I’ve missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. Twenty-six times I’ve been trusted to take the game-winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.

~Michael Jordan~


“I never lose. I win, or I learn.”

~Nelson Mandela~

Mandela gets it. Embrace failure and squeeze the lesson out of every setback you face!

Your Challenge

I’m not smart enough to improve upon already existing challenges written by more clever authors. So we are going to rip off the challenge presented in the timeless classic “Think and Grow Rich” by Napoleon Hill. Here is your 6-step challenge.

The “Think and Grow Rich” goals challenge. (Note, just because the book is about wealth does not mean your goals have to be money related).

  1. Get clear on what it is you want. Spend some time in thought about this, and remember to be specific.
  2. Determine what you will give to achieve this. Your talent as a coach? Your talent as a writer? Your time volunteering? What is it you’re willing to do to get this?
  3. Set a specific deadline on when you will achieve this.
  4. Create a plan with actionable steps and get to work on it!
  5. Write out a clear and concise statement, on paper of the steps 1-4
  6. Read your statement out loud at least twice daily. More if possible. Visualize yourself having already achieved your goal while you read it.

This may all sound hokey (it did at first to me too). But remember, we are tapping into our minds in very powerful ways. With words, visualization, audible sounds, and touch. We are inputting our goals in 4 different sensory centers. These goals will take root and your subconscious will get to work on finding opportunities and changing your paradigm. And we will sign off this post from one of my favorite quotes.

“You are what you repeatedly do. Excellence, therefore, is not an act, but a habit.”


Erik Murrah

Author, nerd, chess player, artist, business owner, runner, mediocre philosopher, outdoorsman. Creator of the Arise Tribe.

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