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Fearless Finance
A New Approach to Goal Setting

A New Approach to Goal Setting

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The results we achieve in life, whether financial or otherwise are a product of our actions and habits. Creating a routine is important for our productivity, but goals are the north star which allow us to navigate our productivity to our success.

Goal setting allows you to create the willpower to move the needle in life and prevent feeling stuck in our present circumstances. Setting both long and short-term goals helps you build focus, measure progress, and hold yourself accountable. By setting goals, you can limit the influence of excuses and procrastination and start heading towards success.

One of the psychological reasons behind the effectiveness of goals is a small part of the brain called the reticular activating system or RAS.

Imagine opening up your laptop or internet on your phone and there was no homepage or search engine. All the information available online was instantly available and vying for your attention. All the websites, pictures, videos, music all at once. It would most likely fry your device and be completely unusable.

In a similar way our brains decide what is important to focus upon, we can zone out the ticking of the clock, sound of blood in our ears or sensation of a breeze on our forearm. The brain acting like a search engine filters out information which we do not need in that moment. Otherwise it too would quickly become overwhelmed.

Have you ever had the experience at a party or in a noisy room when someone mentions your name? Suddenly through the general murmuring and hubbub you focus in on another conversation because your name was mentioned.

Or when you are thinking of buying a new car and start seeing that exact make, model and colour everywhere. Those cars were always there its just that you didn’t notice them before. Now you have set your RAS to look for those cars they become more apparent.

So how does this work with goal setting? Well, suppose you have a goal to start investing this year, perhaps you will pay attention to an article in a newspaper or online that previously you would not have noticed. Maybe a conversation with a friend will trigger some action or you will tune into a podcast with a related theme or title.

Goal setting can also influence your subconscious mind to seek out opportunities.

This is where questioning techniques can play a part in getting your subconscious to help in the achievement of our goals.

Let’s take a weight loss example:

A vague and unfocussed goal might be “to get fitter this year”

It could be refined by saying “I’d like to lose 10 kilos or 20 lbs this year”

It could be improved by saying “I’d like to hit my ideal weight of XYZ by 1st June”

Or even crafted into “It is now June 1st and I am feeling excited and proud of myself looking great at my sister’s wedding”.

In this last example you have added some emotion and positive feelings. It’s expressed in the present tense and has a reason why as well as a what.

This is a really good basis for goal setting. However, it is possible to go a step further by re framing in the form of a question.

By asking “How was I able to easily and effectively achieve my ideal weight of XYZ and look and feel so good at my sister’s wedding”

By framing the goal as a question, you have been able to presuppose it has actually happened and then ask our minds to come up with reasons why. So now your brain might be saying things like I joined a gym or a running club, drank more water, ate healthier, gave up sugar or whatever resources it can find.

Notice again these are expressed in the past tense, so it presupposes that these things have happened and therefore contributed to the successful outcome of your goal. Rather than previously saying something like, I could join a gym, to which your brain might find excuses such as, I don’t have the time, or its too expensive or I hate working out.

Pretty cool stuff.

Another positive thought on goal setting is to concentrate on a manageable number of goals across the most meaningful areas of your life.

Concentrate on the big areas such as health, work, finances, family or social and contribution and create a maximum of 3 in each area. If you write down dozens of goals they can become overwhelming and have a demotivating effect.

Next reframe the goals as a positive question as shown earlier. Write them down and keep them in a prominent place, perhaps next to your bed or on your bathroom mirror.

You could also record yourself reading your goals on your phone and play that back every morning or evening before bed. This can have a motivating effect and nudge your subconscious to keep scanning for opportunities and synchronicities to help you achieve your goals.

Finally let’s talk plans and accountability. Tony Robbins famously says never leave the sight of a decision without taking action. So if after listening to this you spend some time working on your goals, take at least one action to move you towards them. Buy that book, sign up for the class or take a walk around the block. Just begin.

To amplify the effect, find a partner or group to share your goal with. Someone who you trust to encourage and motivate you when things get tough and to remind you of how great you ae going to feel when you meet your goals.

If you found this post useful you may enjoy the Fearless Finance Podcast.

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