Setting goals and breaking them into achievable tasks can be a powerful tool for improving brain and mental health. When we set specific, achievable goals for ourselves, it gives us a sense of purpose and direction, and can help boost motivation and self-esteem.
Breaking those goals down into smaller, achievable tasks can help us stay focused and avoid becoming overwhelmed, reducing feelings of stress and anxiety. Additionally, achieving those smaller tasks and ultimately reaching our goals can provide a sense of accomplishment, which can boost overall well-being.
The setting and following through on personal goals big and small also have a significant impact on motivation at a neurological level. Dopamine, your primary motivation, learning and reward chemical in your brain is activated when you formulate your goal and then again when you pursue it in increments and then again when you fulfill the goal. This leads to greater motivation, completion of things that add to a better life and also just makes us feel happier and more fulfilled.
Challenge Exercises: Follow the following list of instructions to identify and begin to actively pursue one goal this week.
- Identify 1 moderate to difficult goal you would like to accomplish in your life in the next year. (Example: I want to save $1000 in the next 12 months.)
- Identify the concepts, principles, skills, actions or tasks that you must acquire or do in order for this goal to become a reality. (Example: Need to save $83.34 p/mth or $2.78 p/day. I need to have a job/work. Spend less than I make and have a place for the spending savings to go like a savings account. Practically, that looks like not stopping at the convenient store for a soda or packing my own lunch. Another option is I could ask for a raise or seek a higher paying job or a side gig.)
- Identify 1-2 simple tasks that take less than 5 minutes to do that you can do that you will actually do today to get a little closer to your goal. (Example: Pack lunch of left-overs or a sandwich the night before, improve one section of your resume, make one extra sales call p/day, save your change or download a change saving app, learn a new marketable skill through free or paid education.)
- Repeat this every day. (Example: Every morning write down a “5 minute or less” task you will complete in conjunction with your goal and review it at night before you go to bed. If you have not completed it yet in the evening, do a short version of that task before going to bed. Make it easy enough to complete that you cannot find an excuse for not doing it. Be consistent in following through everyday. If you start to do it in the middle of the day and want to do more than the minimum amount, go ahead but initially just complete the minimum amount no matter what!)