Science Behind Setting Goals

Growing up, I was never taught to set goals and targets by my parents, but throughout education it was the entire focus.  Through-out school, you are set projects to complete and you are told when to complete them by.  You are given a value to your work in the form of grades and told which grade to aim for.  You are then encouraged to have constantly higher goals and set things to work towards.  Creating the Yearly Goals Poster was something my sister and I hardly gave any thought to.  We often get together, talk about our goals, talk about the things that make us happy and then set goals and actions in order to reach that goal.  It allows us to feel empowered, motivated and encourages us to push forward.  It is the reason we do the things we do each day, in hopes that eventually we will reach that goal. 

Goals Poster For Bedroom Wall Art

All of this got me thinking, what is the science behind this?  Is there scientific proof that setting goals can help you? 

Apparently, when you set a goal, you invest yourself into the target as if you have already accomplished it, like it has already happened.  We often daydream of the feeling of achieving a certain goal and your brain can’t distinguish between things you want and things you have.  This means that if you don’t achieve a certain goal that you have set, the neurological reaction is similar to that of a loss of a valued possession.  This acts as a motivation to achieve a goal and can be a positive thing, as long as the goals you set are achievable.  Setting small achievable goals (or actions) that are easy to reach and implement allow you to feel accomplished quicker and therefore allow you to push on.  As Forbes says, it is important to see the trees among the forest. 

Frank L. Smoll, who is a working psychologist at the university of Washington has said that there are three points to setting goals.  His studies are based around goal-setting in sports and understanding how peak performers across all professions achieve their successes.  He concluded that effective goals must be;

  • Achievable
  • Believable
  • Committed

The way to do this is through setting SMARTER Goals.  SMARTER Goals stands for;

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Achievable
  • Realistic
  • Time-bound
  • Evaluative
  • Rewarding

To conclude I think there are measures to which goals can really help you stay focus and work towards something specific.  It is important to make sure that these goals are realistic and measurable, as you achieve goals you can set more.  One of my goals is to travel the world and work remotely whilst earning enough money to be able to save and buy myself a house one day.  To make this specific and measurable my current goals I have set are the following;

  • Earn £100 independently
  • Put the systems in place for my job to allow me to work remotely
  • Buy a van to do up
  • Renovate my van into a tiny home on wheels

Once I achieve each goal, I can go onto the next and know I am one step closer to reaching the bigger end goal.  Understanding my true goals and the things that I want to achieve allows me to break things down and keep motivated. 


Dearest Fannie – a female founded sustainable business