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Goals and motivation


Setting and achieving goals

Set yourself a goal!  It seems to be one of the greatest phrases of the last decade.  What is a goal and why don’t we always achieve our goals?

Try explaining to someone who has never ridden a bike, how you learnt to ride one.  You will probably find it impossible – it is much more complicated than simply saying it’s something to do with balance.

Or try to explain, step by step, the physics employed in throwing a ball in the air, then coordinating the eyes as it descends and preparing the hands, arms and muscles ready to intercept and catch the falling object at just the right time.  Again an accurate description of every stage involved would be impossible.

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How then do we learn to ride a bike or catch a ball?  Perseverance and the belief that it can be done coupled with the desire to do it.  The moment when you first ride that bike having fallen off it time and time again is the most wonderful feeling in the world and what’s more it suddenly feels so easy.

Have you ever watched a baby or very young toddler grasping for their bottle?  It’s hardly a very smooth affair.  The hand zig zags around rather precariously and tries to grab the bottle, which often gets knocked over in the process.  When it does get knocked over the toddler usually screams for an obliging parent to reposition the bottle so the cycle can happen again and again until at last the goal can be executed smoothly.

Therefore applying a mathematical analogy we could suggest that goal achievement could be expressed as desire + persistence = success.  Nothing new in this other than have you ever stopped to consider that success in the equation is relative and not necessarily linked to our popular ideas of success?

Bizarrely, success could easily be something we don’t want if we have actually trained our mind to achieve “failure”.  Suppose for a moment that as a child, despite being capable physically and mentally, you had told yourself that the only outcome possible from attempting to ride your bike was failure.  Over time, your mind would happily oblige and orientate you towards this outcome.  What if you had perversely trained yourself to miss the ball?  To the neutral goal-seeking mind this failure would in a strange way be the successful outcome of the exercise.  Sometimes we can be incredibly persistent at loading ourselves with negative outcomes.

How does the mind respond to goals? - Read about how the mind reacts to goal setting

Smarter goals - Read about setting achievable and well formed personal goals

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