492: End of the Year

What do you want to finish before the end of the year?


Full episode script

This is about the time of year that just about every major publication that publishes self-help articles will talk about the likely failed New Year’s resolutions. Varying statistics say that between 50 and 92 percent of resolutions have failed between February and March.

Looking beyond the statistics of how many resolutions don’t happen, there’s a lot of lessons to be learned about goal-setting, managing your own projects, and getting things done. You’ve all heard about SMART goals – smart, measurable, achievable, realistic, and timely — so I won’t pound that in to your head again.

What is worth revisiting, though, is the brain science of goal-setting and success. Monica Mehta, writing in Entrepreneur, puts it this way:

If success releases the production of dopamine, failure can do the opposite. Setting over-reaching goals, or too many goals at once, can be counterproductive for those seeking to harness the power of the brain’s reward center. If you set four goals and achieve only two of them, it’s human nature to focus on what went wrong; even the successes you were able to accomplish fail to drum out what you weren’t able to achieve. While your ambitions can remain grand, setting the bar too high with goals can actually be counterproductive. Each time we fail, the brain is drained of dopamine making it not only hard to concentrate but also difficult to learn from what went wrong.

So, rather than focusing on big, gigantic, grand goals that we may or may not achieve, try focusing on what you will succeed at getting done in the next eight or nine months.

This script may vary from the actual episode transcript.