Why do we fail at achieving goals?
The answer is in your brain—and your blood pressure.
And high blood pressure can help you keep goals on track.
Emily Balcetis, a social psychologist from NYU, recently explained how properly set goals boosts our systolic blood pressure (SBP), which is the measurement of our body being geared up and ready to act. If the goal is easy to achieve we get a nice spike. If it’s moderately hard but seems like a feasible challenge (harder than easy) we get a larger spike and thus more excitement in the body and sympathetic nervous system. But if the goal is seen as impossible our system writes it off, indicated below by SBP decrease.
So what does this mean? As leaders we have an opportunity to create greater neural activation around goals by ensuring we create systemic support. And when we strike a balance when setting goals the neural activation and systemic support help us to achieve them. Often present in goals, and especially present in stretch goals or “mind blower” needle movers are the following key factors:
The medial prefrontal cortex (MPFC) deals with the here and now. You’ll recall from previous blogsthat when we light up, or activate, the MPFC it helps us to simulate goal achievement, to envision what it will be like to achieve the goal and what to do. But when goals seem too far away we get far less activation in the MPFC and thus far less simulation or envisioning how to achieve the goal and what it will be like.
So to succeed in goal setting, and especially in stretch goal setting, Balcetis’s research states we’ll want to:
When we focus on the goal in our mind’s eye, Balcetis found that goals actually looked 30% closer (and thus more achieveable).
And when goals look closer, any progress we make towards achieving those goals actually feels easier, so we psych ourselves up and not out. And the goal feels 17% easier.
And finally… we can actually increase the speed at which we achieve the goal by 23% too!
This is how incredibly powerful your brain is. Wow.
To have an experience of moving your own goal closer, right now, click here. Looks closer now, yes? Feels easier now, yes? And best of all, you’ll achieve it faster now too.
Let me know how your goal setting and achievement has been improved by this blog!