Scientists Weigh in on How to Actually Achieve Your Goals

Setting goals is easy, but achieving goals is the challenge. Scientists at Queen Mary University of London researched what happens in that black hole between setting our goals and (hopefully) achieving those goals.

The first thing you have to know is that goal setting is, in the simplest terms, a 2-step process — first, you set a goal, and second, you work towards that goal. When you set your goal, you’re considering the rewards that obtaining your goal will bring you — it’s the motivation of reward that ultimately leads you to set the goal. However, there are multiple mini steps in between those 2-steps that people tend to overlook when setting goals.

Next, it’s time to get to work on that goal. As Britney said, you want a hot body? You better work b*tch. Except…it sounds a lot better when Britney says it (unsurprisingly). When it comes time to get into the gym and achieve the goal of that hot body, researchers found that all we can think about is the work that achieving our goal will require. Suddenly the rewards of that sexy body just aren’t as enticing when we’d rather stay home and binge our new favorite show.

If you are trying to set goals and successfully achieve them, one the best (and now scientifically proven) ways to do that is by simply being brutally honest with yourself about your expectations. When you are setting new goals, be sure that the rewards you receive after hitting your goal will be enough to outweigh all the hard work once it comes time to put in the effort.

The researchers also found another useful strategy for achieving your goals. When your focus shifts towards the hard work your goal will take instead of the goal itself, switch your focus back to the end goal. When you’re struggling under the weight of how much research and writing that paper will require, redirect your focus to the goal itself. Using a little mindfulness to catch your thoughts and retrain them can help. By reminding yourself of your goal and keeping your focus on it, you won’t be as discouraged by the hard work you’re facing. It turns out science just proved the wisdom behind the old saying, “Keep your eyes on the prize.”

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