How to Set Goals the Neuroscience Way and Achieve Them All in 2018
Learn why 94% of people fail at achieving their goals and a goal setting framework that will help you to be among the 6%
You know the classic definition of a goal: A dream — with a plan and a deadline.
In 2017, these were the goals I accomplished and the ones I missed.
✓ Ship my Master’s thesis and get the hell out of graduate school
✓ Get US visa for parents, fly them for my graduation ceremony and travel with them
✓ Move to Silicon Valley from Ohio and break into tech sales
✓ ‘0’ sick days (no visit to the doctor)
✓ Become net-worth positive
✗ $100,00 in the bank account
✗ Raise $200,000 for Storied Crafts (a startup I was building from the ground up)
✗ Get down to 8% body-fat (again)
✗ $100,00 in the bank account
Below is the goal setting framework I’ve come up with derived from research in neuroscience and from personal experiences.
I’m also currently executing on these strategies to achieve all my goals in 2018.
Part I — Why 94% of People Fail to Achieve Their Goals?
The classic 3.5 reasons people (you included) don’t achieve their goals are:
1. Failure to write your goals down and post them in plain view.2. Failure to make a plan to achieve the goals.3. Failure to commit, or live up to the commitments they made.
3.5 Failure to make goals that were achievable in the first place.
Here’s what research in neuroscience has to say about goal setting.
The 3 key factors that can help you speed up your path to achieving all your goals in 2018 are:
➊ CLARITY — This is about being dead clear on knowing what you want, why you want it, and how you are going to get what you want.
What is your sales quota in 2018?
How are you going to exceed your quota?
Why is this important to you?
What exact places do you want to visit in 2018?
How are you going to save up for the travel expenses?
Why these places and not other?
What do you want your net-worth to grow to in 2018?
How are you going to grow from where you are right now?
Why is it important for you to make that exact figure this year?
Back in 2015, I was dead broke with $30,000 of debt.
But then I went to this money seminar, got all pumped up, and set a goal to make $100,000 in 2016.
That bombed real bad.
The simple reason was my lack of clarity on the Why and the How. But 2018 is different and I’m super stoked about it.
So once you’re clear on your goal, the next factor that is going to help you achieve all your goals in 2018 is…
➋ UNITY — This is where each goal has a ‘Who’ component to it.
The people who will help you to be successful.
The key question here is whether everyone in your life are onboard with you on your goals?
Is your Sales Development Manager onboard to help you exceed your quota by getting you the necessary tools?
Is your partner on board with you to visit the same places as you and want to help with the savings?
Are you on board with your current financial habits and knowledge to be able to save or make that amount?
When the key people in your life are not aligned with your goals, that’s when the planning starts to fail.
Like in my case; even though the goal to make 6-figures sounded all great, my University professor was definitely not on-board with that.
I had a friggin Master’s thesis to finish that I was dragging along for 4+ years. He for sure was a key person who would help me achieve that financial goal by signing off on my thesis (which he did btw on Aug, 2017) as that freed up my mental capacity to focus 100% on wealth creation.
But coming back to you, once you have clarity and unity on your goals, that’s when the third factor matters, which is..
➌ AGILITY — There’s this concept called ‘Agile development’ in the software world.
You make several iterative and incremental improvements through a collaborative effort of self-organizing cross-functional teams.
Same thing applies to your goals too.
You can’t be a hard ass. If you truly want to achieve the goals you set in 2018, you have to be flexible.
Like Bruce Lee says -
“You must be shapeless, formless, like water. When you pour water in a cup, it becomes the cup. When you pour water in a bottle, it becomes the bottle. When you pour water in a teapot, it becomes the teapot. Water can drip and it can crash. Be like water my friend.”
Here is the key question to ask yourself while setting your goals and the actions you want to take during the journey:
Are you prepared to tinker along and change course as you find out what things are right and wrong?
Because when you learn to be agile, you fail fast but you also recover fast.
Every stop sign is a detour sign and you get to help yourself for the forward journey by learning from the past.
By the time I graduated with my Master’s in Chemical Engineering, I knew I was born to serve (aka sell).
So, have an honest 1-on-1 with yourself about your 2018 goals.
You want to exceed your sales quota by 30%. Are you flexible to change your strategies if you’re struggling to hit quota by end of 2018Q1?
You want to take a trip to Spain and Portugal huh? What if your visa gets denied?
You want to grow your net-worth by 40% Q-o-Q this 2018. What if you get laid off?
When there is Clarity, Unity, and Agility in your goal setting process, that’s when things start to get exciting.
So if you’ve already set your goals for 2018, here’s a checklist to run through.
- All ‘Why do I want to achieve this goal’ are set in place ___
- All KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) or quantifiable metrics are set
- All deadlines for the goals are set ___
- I’ve written down the goal in a Google sheet, journal, etc ___
- I have agreement of full-support from people associated with each goal ___
- I am willing to be flexible if my goal has a conflict with another priority at work or in life ___
- I am going to be agile and learn from what’s working and change what’s not-working each quarter ___
Are you checking ‘Yes’ to all the boxes for the goals you’ve set this 2018?
If yes, you are already ahead of 94% of your peers who will fail at their goals this year because they lack clarity, unity, and agility.
The goals that I achieved in 2017 were due to the presence of these 3 key factors that research in neuroscience reveals to help with goal accomplishment.
The goals that I missed were due to the lack of the three too.
Since you already have your goals in place and you have clarity, unity, and agility, you may skip the following part.
But if you’re not dead sure that the goals you’ve set are the ones you want to achieve in 2018, then keep reading.
Part II — How to Identify what goals to set in 2018?
You’ve probably heard this famous saying — “you are the average of the 5 people you surround yourself with.”
Pulling from my experience, I would say — your performance in life and at work is the result of your surrounding environments.
Below is a brief summary of the 9 types of environments:
- Memetic: Our belief-system, thought process, knowledge, first principles framework
- Body: Your physical body, health, energy
- Relationship: Your family, friends, inner circle, partner
- Self: Your unique strengths, core values, personality type
- Spiritual: Your ability to contribute and give back
- Network: Your community, strategic partners, customers
- Financial: Your bank account, net-worth, investments, insurance
- Physical: Your home, office, tech gadgets
- Nature: Your surrounding natural environment and the different seasons
Take the assessment and you’ll be able to identify the 3 environments which could use some improvement this year (identified by the lowest scores).
Then comes the fun part.
Part III — How to Reverse Engineer Your Goals
After identifying your 3 environments that you’d like to enhance in 2018, you begin by setting the most important goal for each environment.
When it comes to picking the goals for each environment, I ask myself these questions.
“If I die 12 months from now, what do I want to have accomplished or what regrets I don’t want to have?”
“What goals can I realize this year that will lead to a 10X improvement in my overall life and at work?”
Your answers to these questions will help you pinpoint your goals for each environment.
Once you’ve set your core goals for each of your (lowest score) 3 environments for 2018, it’s time to reverse engineer the heck out of it.
Basically, you want to set measurement metrics as Peter Drucker righteously said — “What gets measured, gets managed.”
This is the sheet where you get tactical and set measurement metrics for your goals.
I call it the Dreamline Playbook.
For example, one of the environments I want to improve in 2018 is my spiritual environment. I want to feel I’m contributing my knowledge and gifts with others.
So I’m doing that by volunteering as an alumni instructor at AlwaysHired to help future Sales Development Reps break into tech sales.
Below are the steps I go through my core goals for each environment -
- Break each goal into quarterly micro-goals (only set the KPIs for Q1 i.e. 90-day at a time)
- Fill out the dreamline playbook sheet that covers the Clarity, Unity, and Agility side of things
- Review the sheet at the beginning and end of each week.
And that’s how I’ve set my goals for 2018 and now taking daily actions to achieve them all in 2018.
If you’re reading this, I’m curious to learn about your goal setting framework and what KPIs you’ve set for yourself.
Clarity, Unity, and Agility — these are easy to remember. I hope you take some time to review your goals and ensure you have these 3 set in place.
Make it an EPIC 2018. Cheers!
- [PDF] 9-Environment Assessment
- [Google Sheet] Top 3 Core Goals Tracker
- [Google Sheet] Dreamline Playbook (for quarterly micro-goals)
- [Podcast] The neuroscience of goal setting by Dr. Srini Pillay
- [Video] Start with why: How great leaders inspire action by Simon Sinek
Originally published at www.ankurmanshrestha.com.