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Start with Goal setting

Updated: Mar 4

blog in progress - will be updated / *UPDATED   4-Mar-24 /

"The great danger for most of us lies not in setting our aim too high and falling short; but in setting our aim too low and achieving our mark." – Michelangelo Buonarroti
Original photo by Afif Kusuma on Unsplash

Edwin A. Locke an American psychologist found that individuals who set specific, difficult goals performed better than those who set general, easy goals. Goals that are difficult to achieve and specific tend to increase performance far more than easy goals, no goals or telling people to do their best. Locke developed and refined his goal-setting theory in the 1960s. Since then, goal setting has become part of various areas from business to science and research, including areas such as negotiation, therapy or coaching.

So it's not surprising how many people claim to know how to set their goals for example by SMART as that remembered from school. My experience with clients in coaching shows me the exact opposite. Setting goals are at the heart of coaching. The impact can be huge:

  • Not achieving a goal can affect a client’s mindset negatively.

  • Repeatedly achieving goals can make it easier to continue doing so.

And so this thread will discuss more about the topic of setting personal goals.

Frequently used methods

  • ABC

  • SMART targets and enhanced versions

  • OKRs

  • Be-Do-Have model

New methods


  • HARD Goals

  • WOOP

  • C-Star Model

ABC method

  • The ABC method that a goal should be Achievable, it should be Believable, and that the person be Committed, it's sort of obvious once you hear but the ABC method, then people came along and expanded on that they talked about the so called SMART method.

  • The ABC method is focusing more on challenging aspect of the goal and it can be later catalyst for another one.

    • Achievable / Aim High: The goal should be achievable and challenging

    • Believable: Believe in yourself and your capacity

    • Committed: Commit to work on the goal

According to wikipedia, the author of this method is Frank L. Smoll, Ph.D. and a work psychologist at the University of Washington. But I could not find any specific description of ABC in his book or materials.

SMART Method

  • SMART being another acronym, that it be Specific, that the goal be Measurable, that the goal be Attainable, that the goal be Realistic, and that it be Timed down, meaning that you set a certain period of time in which a given goal should be performed.

  • See SMART Goals history with Dr George Doran:

​SmartER Goals

SmartEP Goals

E (Evaluative/ethical)

E (Ecological)

R (Rewarding)

R (Positive stated)

HEART extension of SMART

As I mentioned SMARTER, SMARTEP are common extensions used by coaches. Personally, I've found that clients don't quite get it (because the logical parts, somehow connect to the emotional) and I'm sure some would-be coaches don't get it either. That's why I was thrilled with the excellent extension described by Jim Kwik in his book: "Limitless: Upgrade Your Brain, Learn Anything Faster, and Unlock Your Exceptional Life, Jim Kwik, ISBN-13:978-1401958237"



S is for Specific: Your goal should be well defined. Don’t say you want to be rich; say you want to make a certain amount of money.

H is for Healthy: How can you make sure your goals support your greater well-being? Your goals should contribute to your mental, physical, and emotional health.

M is for Measurable: If you can’t measure your goal, you can’t manage it. Getting fit isn’t measurable - running a six-minute mile is.

E is for Enduring: Your goals should inspire and sustain you during the difficult times when you want to quit.

A is for Actionable: You wouldn’t drive to a new town without asking for directions. Develop the action steps to achieve your goal.

A is for Alluring: You shouldn’t always have to push yourself to work on your goals. They should be so exciting, enticing, and engaging that you’re pulled toward them.

R is for Realistic: If you’re living in your parents’ basement, it’s hard to become a millionaire. Your goals should challenge and stretch you, but not so much that you give up on them

R is for Relevant: Don’t set a goal without knowing why you’re setting it. Ideally, your goals should relate to a challenge you’re having, your life’s purpose, or your core values.

T is for Time-based: The phrase, “A goal is a dream with a deadline” comes to mind. Setting a time to complete your goal makes you that much more likely to reach it.

T is for Truth: Don’t set a goal just because your neighbour is doing it or your parents expect it of you. Make sure your goal is something you want, something that remains true to you. If your goal isn’t true to you, you’re far more likely to procrastinate and sabotage yourself.

OKRs framework

  • Objectives and key results (OKR, alternatively OKRs) is a goal setting framework used by individuals, teams, and organizations to define measurable goals and track their outcomes.

  • OKRs comprise an objective (a significant, concrete, clearly defined goal, be inspirational for the individual, team, or organization that is working towards them) and 3-5 key results (measurable success criteria used to track the achievement of that goal). The development of OKR is generally attributed to Andrew Grove who introduced the approach to Intel during his tenure there.

Please see: "Why the secret to success is setting the right goals" | John Doerr

Be-Do-Have model

According to this model, you must first BEcome the kind of person who is able to achieve your outcome, and then DO the actions that are required to enjoy the fruits of your efforts. Since most of our behaviour is designed to achieve certain outcomes (goals and desires), it is very important to define these outcomes in advance. If you know where you want to be, you will be in a better position to construct the right maps to guide you. Better yet, you will be able to come up with new, easier, or faster ways to get there.

-- the model author is probably the Ram Dass or Steven Covey in the early 1970s

​What do you want to HAVE? (clear vision)

​for example, health, freedom, friends, security or property

​What do you want to DO? (the ACTION steps)

​for example, places you would like to visit, hobbies you want to pursue, activities such as traveling, learning to cook, helping children, etc.

​Who do you want to BE? (the person who will do what needs to be done)

​for example: a successful businessman, a writer, influencer inspiring to others, a marathon runner, a surgeon, etc.

CLEAR model

Relatively new idea here is Adam Kreek’s CLEAR goals. From my opinion, this is more suitable for agile or team coaching goals and honestly without SMART goals you can hardly setup CLEAR, so from this point CLEAR goal is extension of SMART. Use CLEAR goals to ensure your big goals use both your EQ and IQ. Use CLEAR goals to unite your team. See in details:

CLEAR stands for Collaborative, Limited, Emotional, Appreciable, and Refinable. Clarifying each element of CLEAR will keep you moving toward, and past, the biggest outcomes you can imagine.


Collaborative. Goals must include a social framework to drive momentum and completion of a task.

  • ​Who will you work with to achieve this goal?

  • Who is on my boat?

  • Who supports my boat?

  • Who is my boat serving?

  • Who are the stakeholders? Customers?

  • Who in power do I need on my team?

  • Which employees and colleagues can help?

  • Who do I need in a position of authority?

  • Who do I need in a position of support?

  • Why do these collaborators matter?

Limited. Goals must be limited in both scope and duration. They must have simple metrics so that someone who is not you can objectively determine if your goal has reached completion.

  • ​How will you and others know that this goal is achieved?

  • When do I start?

  • When do I stop?

  • What geographical limits exist?

  • What personal limits exist?

  • Am I being realistic?

  • How will I know when the goal is complete?

  • Is the goal SMART?

  • Is there anything I should not do to achieve this goal?

Emotional. Goals should make a sincere and undeniable emotional connection to your core and the core of your team members.

  • ​Why should you achieve this goal?

  • Why do those you serve care?

  • Does this goal serve my purpose?

  • Does this goal feed my needs?

  • Why am I doing this?

  • Am I 100 percent dedicated to this goal’s outcome?

  • How will my goal affect the emotions of the people I manage?

  • The people who manage me?

  • My teammates?

  • How will this goal affect my personal goals and career plans?

Appreciable. Large goals must be broken down into smaller actions and reasonable milestones so that results can grow over time.

  • ​What are the small steps?

  • What are the bigger steps?

  • What are the weekly, quarterly, and yearly milestones?

  • What is the next, smallest, most obvious action?

  • What key performance indicators can I use for metrics?

  • What key milestones exist in the achievement of this goal?

  • What other goals will be accomplished on the road to accomplishing this goal?

  • What objectives can I stack and track?

Refinable. Goals must be set with a headstrong and steadfast objective, but as new situations or data arise, refine and modify your targets. Anticipate change. Plan for risk.

  • ​Create the best-case scenario, the worst-case scenario, and most likely scenario. Make sure the best case and worst case are dramatically different than the most likely scenario.

  • What is the next, smallest, most obvious action?

  • What key performance indicators can I use for metrics?

  • What key milestones exist in the achievement of this goal?

  • What other goals will be accomplished on the road to accomplishing this goal?

  • What objectives can I stack and track?

As with any successful tool, implementation and consistency is the key. Adam Kreek employs the CLEAR goal method to both personal and professional pursuits.

He suggest, when you set a goal in business, career, or life, it must be a clear and compelling statement—one that can be built out, embraced, and acted upon by every member of the team. Use CLEAR goals to unite your team instead of dividing it.

More you can read in book: Kreek, Adam. The Responsibility Ethic: 12 Strategies Exceptional People Use to Do the Work and Make Success Happen (pp. 43-45). Kindle Edition.

HARD Goals

SMART Goals are ubiquitous but as most of us discovered, they’re not particularly effective.

By contrast, HARD Goals are Heartfelt, Animated, Required and Difficult. These kinds of goals light up your brain and encourage great performance.

If you aim to establish a goal that will ignite people's motivation to accomplish remarkable things, it should be portrayed in such vivid detail that individuals can envision the immense satisfaction of achieving it. Furthermore, the goal should necessitate the acquisition of new skills and push individuals beyond their comfort zone, among other crucial elements.

And that’s why HARD Goals where created, which are:

Heartfelt: Explain the motivations behind your desire for this goal (keep in mind that these motivations can stem from within, personal experiences, or external factors). The heartfelt question aims to determine if answer to that Animated picture is rooted in a profound longing.

Animated: The Animated question asks clients to develop a crystal-clear picture of where they are headed. For example, describe what you’re doing (what kind of work you’re doing, who you’re working with, what your days look like, etc.) one year, three years, and five years from now.

Required: What do you need to have accomplished by the end of the next six months to keep on track toward achieving this goal? What’s one thing you can accomplish today? The Required question makes clear how even long-term goals have urgent steps we must work on today. This prevents the phenomenon where clients procrastinate pursuing their goals and wait until the last minute to take action.

Difficult: What are the three to five most important skills you’ll need to develop to achieve this goal? The Difficult question ensures the clients will grow and develop, introducing a level of challenge that drives motivation. It also critically analyzes the gap between the clients current skills and any new skills needed to achieve this career goal.

HARD Goals make people stronger, more courageous, and more confident to go after bigger and better things. More you can read in book: "Hard Goals : The Secret to Getting from Where You Are to Where You Want to Be"


One of the least interesting techniques described in the book "Rethinking positive thinking: inside the new science of motivation" by Gabriele Oettingen in 2014 is, in my opinion, a perfect technique that works (which I believe originates from NLP 😀) and can be applied both to goals and to individual activities.

​First of all

  • ​You need to focus so that the thoughts and images will flow. Find calm place where you can enjoy some peace and quiet. Make yourself comfortable so that you can focus.

  • As you become more familiar with WOOP, you will be able to create your mental space and do it much more quickly-in a matter of a few minutes or even less.

​“W” in WOOP (Wish)

  • ​a wish or concern that you might have

  • something that is challenging but that you think is possible for you to achieve in a given period of time.

  • It could be something you could accomplish in a year, a month, a week, a day - whatever wish you decide to WOOP.

  • If you have several wishes for the same time period, pick the one that is most important to you. Put the wish or concern in your mind’s eye and hold it there.

the first “O” in WOOP (Outcome)

  • What is the best thing that you associate with fulfilling your wish or solving your concern?

  • Identify this outcome and keep it in your mind’s eye.

  • Really think about it; imagine the relevant events and experiences as vividly as possible.

  • Let your mind go. Don’t hesitate to give your thoughts and images free rein. Take your time; you may close your eyes if you would like.

the second “O” in WOOP (Obstacle)

Sometimes things do not work out as well as we would like.

  • What is it in you that holds you back? What is it really?

  • Find the most critical, internal obstacle that prevents you from fulfilling your wish or solving your concern.

  • What thoughts or behaviors might play a role?

  • How about habits or preconceived notions?

1. When thinking about obstacles, people often look to the external world, naming circumstances or individuals they feel are blocking them.

2. But by choosing a wish that we think is feasible, we’re already accounting for obstacles outside us (if serious obstacles outside us existed, the wish wouldn’t be feasible).

3. The point of this exercise is to help us prevent ourselves from getting in the way of realizing our own dreams.

  • it’s also important to dig deep enough to make sure you are addressing one that’s critical for you.

  • Depending on the situation, this obstacle might be as specific as spending too much time in front of the computer or as general as being tired or being anxious.

  • The obstacle could be a behavior, an emotion, an obsessive thought, an impulse, a bad habit, assumptions you jump to, or just a silly, vain behavior.

  • Sometimes it takes a little bit of thought and patience to really understand your inner barriers and how you behave or react unconstructively.

In many cases, you’ll be discovering something about yourself that you never would have thought or that you had not quite understood before. By finding your obstacle, you’ll gain what in German is called Durchblick, loosely translated as a new, clearer vista on your wish or concern, or possibly on other aspects of your life. Please keep the obstacle in your mind’s eye.

“P” part of WOOP (Plan)

​1. What can you do to overcome or circumvent your obstacle?

2. Name one thought or action you can take - the most effective one - and hold it in your mind.

3. Then think about when and where the obstacle will next occur.

4. Form an if-then plan: “If obstacle x occurs (when and where), then I will perform behavior y.”

5. Repeat this if-then plan to yourself one more time.

A common mistake

  • forming if-then plans is keeping the “if-then” structure but substituting other terms for the ones I’ve specified.

  • In forming your if-then plans, note that you can also frame plans to prevent obstacles, not just surmount or circumvent them when they arise.

The C-Star Model by Meredith Whipple Callahan

Setting goals is a fundamental aspect of personal and professional growth. However, many of us struggle with creating resolutions that stick beyond the initial enthusiasm. Callahan introduces a refreshing perspective on goal setting that transcends the conventional SMART model, which, despite its popularity, often feels limiting and uninspiring.

Callahan proposes the "C-Star" model, a new framework for consciously choosing goals that resonate with our deepest selves. This model comprises five critical aspects:

  1. Committed: Are you fully committed to achieving your goal? It's essential to understand the importance of your goal, what's at stake if you don't achieve it, and what it means to you personally. This commitment fuels your motivation and drives you towards realization.

  2. Clear: Is your goal clear? Clarity is key in navigating towards your goal, especially when faced with obstacles. Writing down your goals and refining their wording can help solidify your intentions and ensure you're aiming for what truly matters to you.

  3. Challenging: A goal should stretch your abilities and push you towards growth. By setting ambitious goals, you encourage your personal evolution and step out of your comfort zone

  4. Consistent: Ensure your goal aligns with what you genuinely want, not what you think you should want. It should be a true reflection of your desires and aspirations, not influenced by external expectations

  5. Congruent: Your goals should be in harmony with who you are. This means considering your values, beliefs, and identity when setting goals. They should emanate from your core, ensuring authenticity and a greater sense of purpose

Callahan emphasizes that while the SMART model can help articulate the steps to achieve your goal, it often misses the deeper, more meaningful dimensions that the C-Star model addresses. By ensuring your goals are Congruent, Consistent, Challenging, Clear, and you are Committed to them, you create a powerful foundation for lasting change and achievement.

Incorporate these principles into your goal-setting practices, and you're not just setting goals-you're creating a vision that is deeply aligned with who you are and what you wish to accomplish. Remember, it's not just about setting goals at the beginning of the year; it's about creating a roadmap for meaningful and sustained personal growth.

For more details, contact Meredith at:

Limitations and side effects of methods

  • Goal setting may have the drawback of inhibiting implicit learning if the required knowledge and strategic awareness are not in place: goal setting may encourage simple focus on an outcome without openness to exploration, understanding, or growth and result in lower performance than simply encouraging people to "do their best”

  • Please see: The Art of Goal Setting | Keiana Cave | TEDxUofM

  1. SMART = Short Term Goals

  2. DREMAS: Example not the goals but higher

  3. If people are not laughing at your goals, they’re Not big enough to ever evolve into a dream

  4. Avoid setting SMART goals at all costs otherwise you may wake up ten years from now and you might say where the rest of my burns were or similarly why did I settle for making four hot dogs when I could have made an infinite amount of hotdogs

How to get motivation into Goal setting

Please see:

How to Achieve Your Most Ambitious Goals | Stephen Duneier | TEDxTucson

What he said - break down your goals into small manageable tasks. Notice how he achieved most of his goals by focusing on one goal at a time.

If you want to achieve your goals, don't focus on them: Reggie Rivers

  1. Set goal

  2. Forget the goal and determine the process you need to achieve the goal

  3. Fall in love with the process

  4. Do the process without thinking about the goal

  5. Eventually, achieve the goal

Why you should define your fears instead of your goals | Tim Ferriss

Easy choices, hard life. Hard choices, easy life. - Jerzy Gregorek

Stoicism: exercise he calls "fear-setting."

What you can control vs. what you can not control!

Business hours are over at Five o’clock!

We suffer more often in imagination than in reality - Seneca

Pre-meditation of evils: this is visualizing the worst-case scenarios, in detail, that you fear, preventing you from taking actions, so that you can take action to overcome that paralysis.

Fear setting like Goal setting

What if I …

Define- -Prevent- -Repair-

  • Define: writing down all of the worst things you can imagine happening if you take that step

  • Prevent: what could you to do to prevent each of these bullets from happening

  • Repair: what could you do to repair the damage even a little bit, or who could you ask for help?

What might be the benefits of an attempt or partial success?

The Cost of Inaction: Emotionally, Physically, Financially: 6months, 1 Year, 3 Years

The Science of Setting & Achieving Goals

The Science of Setting & Achieving Goals | Huberman Lab Podcast #55

”Setting and achieving goals is not a uniquely human endeavor. Other animals set an attempt to achieve goals. A honeybee attempts to collect honey and bring it back to the hive, a herbivore will go out and forage for plants, and will also have a need to reproduce at some point in its life”.

The amygdala is most often associated with fear. So you might say, Wow, how is that involved in goal directed behavior? Well, a lot of our goal directed behavior is to avoid punishments, including things like embarrassment or financial ruin, or things of that sort. And so the amygdala and some sense of anxiety or fear is actually built into the circuits that generate goal seeking and our motivation to pursuit goals.

The value information about a goal is key. Here's why. There is basically one neuro transmitter or rather neuromodulator system that governs our goal setting and goal assessment and goal pursuit, and that is the neuromodulator dopamine. Dopamine is the common currency by which we assess our progress toward particular things of particular value.



​The amygdalae are responsible for different aspects of perceiving, learning and regulating emotions. When we are anxious our amygdala gets activated. However, we must remember that the amygdala detects all emotions. It processes them in order of significance, and fear is very significant. The limbic system (including the amygdalae) developed to manage the fight-or-flight response necessary for survival.

​Dopamine is a neurotransmitter. It is a chemical that transmits signals between brain cells (neurons).

The amygdala is important in:

  • emotional responses and these drive a lot of our behavior;

  • memory;

  • attention – the ability to focus in on something while excluding others;

  • social processing.

Dopamine is involved in:

  • how we behave;

  • how we think;

  • our ability to move;

  • our feelings of motivation;

  • reward;

  • punishment;

  • working memory;

  • attention;

  • learning

In essence we need the ‘smaller, sooner’ rewards to come from things that are in alignment with the ‘larger, later’ goals. This will likely take an investment of time and energy.

14 tools or protocols for better Goal setting practice

Andrew Huberman for those who need to confirm or extend knowledge share in Podcast episode “Goals Toolkit: How to Set & Achieve Your Goals | Huberman Lab Podcast” released on 28-Aug-23 following presented 14 tools or protocols for better Goal setting practice.

Tool 1: Choose a Priority Goal

​The neural circuitry underlying goal setting and pursuit is universal. Highlighting that regardless of the type of goal (fitness, academic, work, monetary, relationship, relaxation), humans utilize the same neural circuits for achieving them.

This insight provides confidence that by using tools rooted in the biological aspects of goal pursuit, success can be more certain.

To achieve goals effectively, the importance of selecting a single priority goal rather than attempting to achieve multiple simultaneously is emphasized, "overhaul approach."

This involves considering personal values, motivations, and resources to define the one goal to pursue.

Focusing on one priority increases the likelihood of success, and individuals can adjust the pursuit period based on their circumstances.

Ultimately, understanding the significance of setting one clear priority goal can greatly enhance goal achievement.

Tool 2: Pursue Lofty Goals

​What is relationship between goal difficulty and the likelihood of achieving that goal?

Contrary to common belief, easy-to-achieve goals may not lead to successful outcomes.

Research suggests that when goals are too easy, they don't engage the brain's arousal network effectively, including the amygdala and other brain structures, which are crucial for sustained goal pursuit.

The process of learning and pursuing goals involves stepping out of one's comfort zone and embracing uncomfortable states. Errors, failures, frustration, and anxiety are integral to successful learning, as they trigger neuroplasticity – the brain's ability to change and adapt. These discomforting states prompt shifts in neurochemical states that create opportunities for learning and neural circuitry changes.

Emphasizes the importance of setting priority goals and avoiding distractions from other pursuits.

The recommendation is to choose challenging goals that feel slightly out of reach, as these activate the brain's motivational circuits, leading to more focused action.

The goal should not be entirely unattainable, but rather, it should be exciting and just beyond one's current capabilities.

In addition, let us mention the role of the orbital frontal cortex, which processes emotions and context during goal pursuit. This brain region helps individuals understand that discomfort, frustration, and errors are essential components of the learning process, contributing to neural circuit changes. The process of neuroplasticity, where neural circuits rewire for improved performance, occurs primarily during deep sleep and rest.

Readers should thoughtfully define their priority goals and focus on pursuing one goal while maintaining overall well-being.

In conclusion, let's emphasize the satisfaction and success that can come from dedicating yourself to a challenging but achievable goal.

Tool 3: Define Verb Actions, Measurability & Specificity; Writing vs. Typing

​Tool 3 emphasizes the importance of defining specific goals and outlining actionable steps before pursuing them. It highlights the necessity of using specific verbs to detail the actions required for goal achievement. Many people set vague goals, such as wanting to be rich or fit, so the importance of adding specificity to those goals is emphasized by focusing on verbs that describe the actions needed.

Writing down goals and actions on paper is suggested for effective goal setting, as this engages neural circuitry in a way that typing does not. The process involves selecting a priority goal, identifying key actions (verbs) necessary for its attainment, and specifying the time commitment for each action weekly. Research shows that setting specific goals and detailing actions significantly increases the likelihood of success. This approach applies across various domains and has been proven effective in numerous studies.

Tool 4: Visual Reminder Myth; “Post-It Fallacy”

​The Tool 4 addresses common misconceptions about goal setting and pursuit. They highlight two popular myths.

The first myth is that placing a written goal on a visible surface, like a sticky note on the fridge or mirror, will increase the likelihood of achieving it. However, this approach doesn't work as our visual system adapts to regular stimuli in our environment, causing the goal to lose its impact over time.

Instead of this process, continuously rewriting the goals and changing its location daily can be more effective.

The first myth, called the "post-it fallacy," is debunked, emphasizing that consistently changing visual cues is key to successful goal pursuit.

Tool 5: Accountability Myth, “Don’t Tell the World” Rule

​Two common mistakes related to achieving goals and increasing motivation.

The first misconception is referred to as the "posted fallacy," which suggests that sharing your goals with others, especially on social media, leads to positive feedback and activation of reward systems in the brain. However, this positive feedback often fades quickly, diminishing the likelihood of actually pursuing the necessary actions to achieve the goal.

The second myth is the "accountability fallacy," which advises telling people about your goals to increase motivation and the probability of success. The text argues that while accountability can be beneficial, announcing goals to others tends to trigger reward circuits that subsequently decrease the drive to pursue the goal.

Instead, it is better to use the "don't tell the world" rule advocating for keeping goals private.

Here we should emphasize the importance of intrinsic motivation derived from the process of pursuing the goal itself. It also touches on the potential effectiveness of having an accountability partner, focusing only on keeping you accountable without triggering premature reward systems.

The intrinsic motivation, connected directly to the goal, is the most potent and sustainable source of motivation.

Tool 6: Measurable Goal; Quarterly Cycle

​Emphasize the importance of creating measurable goals and a protocol for effective goal achievement. Goals should be broken down into manageable time frames, and provide guidance for defining the duration and frequency of goal tracking.

The recommended approach is to focus on a 12-week cycle or a quarterly cycle, with a clear allocation of hours per week and days per week dedicated to working on the goal. These parameters are deemed effective for a wide range of goals. Writing down the specific action steps and time commitments is strongly encouraged, as it enhances the goal-setting process and increases the likelihood of achieving the desired outcomes.

In order to achieve a successful goal, actionable words and quantifiable time commitments must be defined.

Tool 7: Quantifiable Goals; Example Book Writing

​One of the challenges is in defining and quantifying the goal, especially in different endeavors where goal achievement can be measured differently.

The example of setting time-based goals for running a certain mile time is provided as a highly quantifiable goal that can be broken down into training steps. However, many pursuits, except for athletics or finance, often lack clear quantifiable results. The importance of measuring the time spent on specific actions towards achieving a goal is emphasized, regardless of whether the goal is quantifiable, such as learning conversational French or improving in writing poetry. The process of achieving goals is highlighted as a series of actions, which are inherently quantifiable.

For instance, in writing a book, experienced writers advise setting aside dedicated time to write consistently rather than relying on inspiration, as consistent action yields a higher probability of success than solely aiming for a desired end result. In conclusion, successful goal achievement relies on understanding and quantifying specific actions through a dedicated amount of time.

Tool 8: Visualization of End; Motivation & Negative Thinking

​Tool 8 discusses the process of goal pursuit and the strategies individuals can employ to initiate and progress towards their goals.

It emphasizes the importance of motivation in pursuing goals and suggests two distinct approaches based on an individual's level of motivation.

There are exists a series of questions that individuals should ask themselves to determine their motivation levels, such as whether they are eager to pursue the goal or encountering resistance.

Let's outlines two different visualization strategies based on motivation levels.

For individuals who are highly motivated, it recommends spending a brief period visualizing the positive outcomes and feelings associated with achieving the goal.

However, for those who lack motivation or are facing procrastination, the text suggests spending a short amount of time visualizing the potential negative feelings and consequences of failing to achieve the goal.

This "negative thinking" approach can activate certain elements of the autonomic nervous system and hormonal system, thereby motivating action.

The role of visualization in goal pursuit and how different visualization strategies can be utilized depending on an individual's motivational state is important.

While positive thinking has its place, there is also a valuable role for considering potential negative outcomes in order to spur action.

Tool 9: Visual Target/Finish Line Training & Perceived Effort

​How is it important of using tools and protocols to initiate and maintain effort in pursuing goals? For example the role of time domains and the need for different strategies within specific time blocks.

The significance of tools for staying motivated within a training or practice block toward achieving a goal is important. The described process of initiating daily work, involving self-assessment of motivation and methods to increase it. The concept of visual focus is introduced as a powerful tool to enhance motivation and maintain focus during goal pursuit.

The narrowing visual attention through vergence eye movement can trigger the release of neurochemicals that increase alertness and arousal. This technique is recommended to set a visual target, maintain focus for a period of time, and enhance cognitive and motivational states.

You can so called soften your gaze and view the entire horizon, you can see the periphery of the room by relaxing your eyes, you can actually do this now, in fact, when you drive, most of the time you're doing this, you're not looking at a particular focal point, it's viewing things in so called panoramic vision. And of course, you can draw your visual focus to a particular location, what we call a vergence eye movement. That is you're bringing your eyes in toward the centre toward your nose a little bit, and you're focusing them in a more narrow cone of visual attention. This is something you can do, almost imperceptibly to others.

This method can be added to a foundation of healthy practices like sleep, nutrition, and stress management to optimize goal pursuit. It addresses concerns about elevated blood pressure during the technique and suggests using panoramic vision to relax the eyes and periodically refresh focus.

Tool 10: Distance from Phone

​Let's discuss the simplicity of some overlooked yet impactful methods.

For example a list by Tim Ferriss, featuring 30 things he wished he knew when he was 20, with one particular point standing out: the best productivity app is the one already on your phone. This refers to using airplane mode or turning off the phone during tasks to minimize distractions. While acknowledging some might need their phones for communication, the text emphasizes the benefits of distancing oneself from distractions to enhance focus on goals.

Despite the search for productivity apps or hacks, the most valuable actions often involve avoiding certain behaviors. Tips include not leaving the phone face up with Wi-Fi and cellular service on.

Tool 11: Random, Intermittent Reinforcement; Cognitive Rewards

​Tool 11 focus on the role of dopamine in maintaining motivation while pursuing goals. The understanding the dopamine reward and motivation pathways for consistent motivation and feelings of well-being is important.

The concept of random intermittent reinforcement is introduced as a strategy to enhance motivation. Rather than consistently rewarding oneself for completing milestones, it suggests flipping a coin to determine whether to reward oneself or not. This approach applies to both cognitive and physical rewards, such as self-praise or enjoyable activities.

Building neural circuits associated with self-generated motivation is crucial for achieving multiple goals over time. By applying the principle of random intermittent reinforcement, motivation can be sustained not only within individual sessions but also across longer periods of goal pursuit.

Tool 12: “Middle Problem”; Time Chunking

​The "middle problem" in pursuing goals, as discussed by Dr. Maya Shankar on the Huberman lab podcast, refers to the decrease in motivation that individuals often experience during the middle phase of their goal pursuit.

People tend to start with high motivation, but as they progress toward their goal, motivation drops in the middle before picking up again towards the end.

This pattern has been observed in various studies. To address the middle problem, several strategies are suggested.

Firstly, acknowledging its presence can help individuals understand it as a natural process.

Secondly, breaking the middle phase into smaller chunks, and potentially incorporating fear-based visualization or the visual target protocol, can sustain motivation and focus. This approach is useful for both short learning sessions and longer bouts of effort, such as weekly training sessions.

By recognizing the middle problem and employing these tools, individuals can navigate and overcome the motivational dip during their goal pursuit journey.

Tool 13: Circadian Rhythm & Attention

​This tool discusses strategies for optimizing focus, motivation, and performance during goal pursuit.

It emphasizes the importance of considering circadian rhythms and how they impact attention and motivation levels throughout the day.

People naturally experience heightened focus and motivation approximately 30 minutes, three hours, and 11 hours after waking up due to circadian shifts in body temperature and neurotransmitter release.

While suggesting specific times for optimal engagement, the real-world constraints, such as work and family demands, may not always allow for adherence to these timings.

Flexibility in planning, where individuals can set specific blocks of time or wider windows to achieve a goal, is common.

Huberman recounts a personal experience of adjusting their running routine to align with their schedule, highlighting the importance of adapting while prioritizing the actual engagement in the pursuit of goals.

The external factors like sleep quality, personal circumstances, and overall well-being influence motivation and performance.

These factors should not be ignored when aiming to achieve optimal results.

While the discussed circadian rhythm-based timings offer insights into enhanced attention and motivation, Huberman encourages readers to adapt these suggestions to their individual circumstances, ensuring a balance between effective goal pursuit and overall well-being.

Tool14: Protocol Flexibility, Subjective Feelings

​Tool 14 discusses the relationship between sleep, positive experiences, and productivity.

The key point is that our feelings of energy and well-being during the day are influenced not only by the quality and quantity of sleep but also by our perception of the previous day's experiences and our outlook for the current day. This positive perspective on our experiences and goals can boost our energy levels.

The importance of sleep is important, but let's emphasize that completing the tasks we have committed to can also contribute to a sense of accomplishment and well-being.

Accomplishing goals releases neurochemicals like dopamine, contributing to this positive feeling.


  • Setting goals that are widely unrealistic can motivate some people but unmet goals can be very demotivating to other people. So, initially, the safe bet is to support clients in setting realistic goals so that they get some wins under their belt. Offer clients the opportunity to increase their self-control by working on it for a two-week period, explaining that this should make it easier for them to achieve their goals.

  • It can be useful to move up and down within the goal hierarchy from ‘why’ to ‘how’, in order to get unstuck from a task or to become more practical by focusing on the ‘how’.

    • The ‘how’ thoughts corresponded with areas on the left side of the brain involved in planning movement and tracking location (the premotor cortex and posterior parietal cortex).

    • When they considered ‘why’ then areas involved in thinking about states and intentions of others lit up (the right temporoparietal junction, the precuneus and dorsomedial prefrontal cortex)

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