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The SMART Way to Reach your Goals in the New Year

The SMART Way to Reach your Goals in the New Year

Research shows that people who explicitly make resolutions are 10 times more likely to attain their goals than people who don’t explicitly make resolutions. 

Many people start the New Year off with a list of personal goals and they have good intentions to follow through and successfully accomplish those goals. Unfortunately, only about 8% of people actually achieve their goals. These successful people know that there is a planning process that starts with defining the goal, with the successful outcome in mind.

Successful people use the SMART or similar method for goal setting because it works. Let’s look closer at each of these parts of goal setting.

What will the goal accomplish? How and why will it be accomplished?

How will you measure whether or not the goal has been reached?

Is it possible? Have others done it successfully? Do you have the necessary knowledge, skills, abilities, and resources to accomplish the goal?

Does this goal represent an objective toward which you are both willing and able to work?

What is the established completion date and does that completion date create a practical sense of urgency?

Neuroscience and psychology also shows us that our imagination can also aid us in achieving a goal. If we can imagine or visualize the objective or successful outcome as if we’d already accomplished it, our brain will help by creating the chemical neurotransmitters that drive us to work towards the goals to fulfill the brain’s self-image.

The two goal orientated brain hormones or neurotransmitters, serotonin and dopamine can help keep us on track. Serotonin, is the “feel good” hormone can help us maintain a positive outlook, which is essential in reaching a goal. Dopamine helps us maintain our focus and it acts as a motivator, creating a sensation of pleasure when the brain is stimulated by achievement.

Bottom line: Goal setting using the SMART method will increase your chance of being successful by creating a clearly defined plan. Repetitive visualization or imagining yourself as if you've already achieved the goal creates the neurotransmitters needed to support your focus and motivation.