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    The Science of Setting & Achieving Goals

    enJanuary 17, 2022

    Podcast Summary

    • Improving Goal Setting with NeuroscienceEmbrace errors when learning to optimize your brain's plasticity and set goals at a 15% error rate to enhance learning. Use this protocol to achieve your goals while assessing progress.

      Setting goals and achieving them is controlled by one neural circuit that relates to some basic neurochemical mechanisms. Embracing errors while learning something new can make the brain more plastic and increases the probability of learning new skills. The difficulty level of learning something should be such that you're making errors about 15% of the time, which can optimize learning. Thus, in order to achieve your goals, set the level of difficulty of your goals all by yourself, with the help of this protocol. Focusing on the neuroscience of goal setting can improve your overall approach towards setting and achieving your goals, and help you assess your progress towards those goals.

    • Understanding the Science of Goal Pursuit: Key Strategies for Achieving Your ObjectivesAchieving goals requires pushing for higher proficiency, tolerating failure, and working with the neural circuits responsible for goal pursuit. By keeping these in mind, we can successfully pursue our priorities and manage multiple objectives.

      Goal setting and pursuit is a common process among all animals, including humans. The ability to have multiple goals is unique to humans, but it can also be a challenge as goal pursuit often interacts. To achieve goals, it is important to keep aiming for higher levels of proficiency and allow for a certain amount of failure, but not to the point where the task becomes too difficult. It is also crucial to recognize that a common set of neural circuits is responsible for goal pursuit. By understanding and working with these circuits, we can effectively pursue our goals and manage the challenges that come with having multiple priorities.

    • The Four Areas of the Brain Involved in Goal-Directed Behavior and Decision-Making.Our brains have specific neural circuits that process value information and guide decision-making, including the assessment and pursuit of goals. Understanding these principles can enhance our goal-setting strategies.

      Goal-directed behavior is generated by four areas of the brain: amygdala, basal ganglia, prefrontal cortex, and orbital frontal cortex. Anxiety/fear is associated with amygdala. Basal ganglia has two circuits, go and no-go, for initiating and preventing action. Prefrontal cortex is involved in planning and thinking, while orbital frontal cortex is associated with emotionality. The same neural circuits are involved in decision-making processes leading to different goals. The circuits process value information, assessing whether a goal is worth pursuing or not, and action, deciding which actions to take at a given moment. The neuromodulator dopamine, which is responsible for assessing value, governs our goal setting, assessment, and pursuit. Hence, understanding the key principles related to the psychology of goal setting is essential.

    • Understanding the Neurobiology of Goal Setting for Effective AchievementSetting achievable and time-bound goals that are significant, concrete, and action-oriented, while understanding the role of dopamine and neural circuits, can lead to more effective goal pursuit.

      Understanding the neurobiology of goal setting and pursuit can allow for more effective goal achievement. While acronyms dominate the literature on goal setting, they boil down to some common features that are essential for successful goal pursuit. These features include setting achievable and time-bound goals that are significant, concrete, and action-oriented. The modern scientific study of goal setting dates back to the 1930s, but humans have been focused on goal pursuit long before that. By assessing the value of specific action steps and understanding the role of dopamine in the process, individuals can set, assess, and execute goals more effectively. Ultimately, goal pursuit involves various states and neural circuits in the brain and body.

    • Break down big goals with neuroscience protocolsBreak down big goals into smaller, achievable ones with clear end goals in mind. Use neuroscience protocols to toggle between peri and extra personal space, and understand the associated neurochemicals.

      To achieve big goals, it is important to break them down into smaller goals, define specific behavior and have a clear end goal in mind. The process involves assessing value, action steps, toggling between personal and extra personal space, and understanding the associated neurochemicals. Peri personal space governs things within our reach, while extra personal space governs things beyond our reach. Serotonin governs actions towards peri personal space, while dopamine governs actions towards extra personal space. By understanding these concepts and applying neuroscience protocols, we can achieve our goals more quickly and with less effort.

    • The benefits and drawbacks of multitasking and visual focus on goal-seeking behavior.Multitasking can be beneficial in generating adrenaline, but visual focus and narrowing your attention can increase clarity and likelihood of achieving goals. Humans have the ability to adjust their goal-seeking behavior over different timescales and are prone to bias towards particular goals. Beware of common mistakes in setting, assessing, and executing goals in the wellness and fitness industry.

      Multitasking can be useful when placed at a particular time within your goal-seeking behavior to generate adrenaline in your system. However, visual focus and contracting your visual window can increase your clarity of goal-seeking and the likelihood that you will pursue your goals. Most people can hold their attention for about three minutes at a time, reflecting a basic state of brain function that hearkens back to a time when we were hunter-gatherers. Humans can modulate the timescale in a way that other animals don't, allowing them to adjust their goal-seeking to different timescales. Humans are exquisitely good at biasing their behavior towards particular goals over very long periods of time. There are many mistakes in the wellness and fitness space that send people down the wrong path in setting, assessing, and executing goals.

    • The Power of Visual Focus for Increased Attention and Goal AchievementFocusing on a specific visual point engages neurons for greater attention and less perceived effort in goal pursuit, making it an effective strategy even for those without visual impairments.

      Focusing on a specific visual point for a period of time can increase cognitive attention and the ability to stay focused. This is because most of our cognition follows our visual perception. People with low vision or no vision tend to anchor their attention using their hearing, but for those who can see well, visual focus is key. Engaging in extra personal space goal pursuit mode by focusing outside of our body can help us achieve goals with less perceived effort. This is because focusing on a specific visual point engages a set of neurons that are involved in resolving fine detail and evaluating small changes. Changing where we look can change our perceived effort and ability to do something more effectively and quickly.

    • The Power of Visual System in Goal AchievementBy focusing our visual attention on a specific location, we increase our levels of alertness and prepare our body to take action towards our goals. It enhances our coordination and motivation to pursue our goals with activation energy.

      Our visual system plays a crucial role in increasing our level of arousal and alertness when we focus on a particular location. This increase in alertness is accomplished by communicating with our circulatory system, resulting in an increase in systolic blood pressure and adrenaline release. Focusing on a goal line allows people to move more effectively towards that goal. The brain and body need to be coordinated in achieving goals, and our visual system facilitates this coordination. Bringing our visual focus to a particular location prepares the body to lean into our goals and take action, making us more likely to pursue our goals with activation energy and willingness. Thus, visualizing a goal must be coupled with physical pursuit towards it.

    • Focusing your attention for effective goal pursuitBy focusing our visual attention on a specific point beyond our personal space, we can trigger our neurotransmitter systems to stay in a continuous action mode, enhancing our effectiveness in achieving both immediate and long-term goals.

      Focusing your visual attention on one point beyond your personal space for 30 to 60 seconds can effectively prepare your brain and body to pursue any goal. This practice is better than multitasking which divides your attention from one task to another. This habit triggers epinephrine and dopamine neurotransmitter systems to place us into a continuous action mode. Goal setting and pursuit both rely on our mental frame and attention and how we can dynamically travel back and forth between our immediate possessions and things outside us. Thus, setting immediate and intermediate goals and visualizing our long-term plans could enhance our effectiveness. As a result, we should not remain broad in our visual attention, which reduces our goal-directed behavior and systolic blood pressure. Instead, we must orient ourselves towards specific things and towards achieving our long-term goals.

    • The Power of Visual Perception in Motivating Long-Term GoalsOur visual perception of the future helps anchor our goal-directed systems and seeing pictures of ourselves in the future can create a heightened sense of motivation. Leveraging our visual system towards long-term goals can bridge the gap between our present experience and the longer arc towards our future selves.

      Our visual perception of the future is what anchors our goal-directed systems and motivation towards long-term goals like saving money for retirement or investing in healthy practices. Seeing pictures of ourselves in the future can help bridge the gap between our present experience and the longer arc towards our future selves. While delayed discounting makes goals less rewarding when they exist further out in the future, leveraging our visual system towards long-term goals can create a heightened sense of motivation. Visual attention to a particular point is the most effective way to bring our system into a state of readiness and action for goal pursuit. Overall, the visual system plays a crucial role in defining our behavior in the immediate term, even if what we see relates to something in the far off distance.

    • Visualizing Failure Increases Goal Attainment Probability by Almost DoubleFocusing on failure and the negative consequences of not taking action instead of success increases readiness and excitement for the goal, leading to action and better long-term goal attainment.

      Visualizing the big goal is effective in getting the goal pursuit process started, but it is not a good way of maintaining the pursuit of the goal for a long time. Instead, visualizing failure or foreshadowing failure increases the probability of reaching the goal by almost double. Thinking about the ways in which things could fail increases the readiness and excitement for the goal, leading to action C instead of A or B. Therefore, while pursuing goals, it is essential to be very careful about how and when to implement visualization. Also, it is better to focus on visualizing failure and the negative consequences of not taking actions rather than visualizing success to achieve long-term goals.

    • The Importance of Foreshadowing Failure in Goal PursuitSuccess is not only about setting aggressive goals, but also avoiding failure. Setting moderate goals with specific plans and being mindful of potential obstacles can lead to successful goal achievement. Regular deep sleep is also essential for mental functioning.

      Foreshadowing failure is the best way to motivate towards goal pursuit and achieve goals. The amygdala in our brain is involved in anxiety, fear and worry and also in goal-setting circuitry. One-trial learning teaches us to move away from things we fear than towards things we want. Therefore, it is important to avoid failure rather than focus only on winning. Significant, aggressive yet realistic goals are important, but at the same time, one needs regular deep sleep for mental functioning and goal achievements. Setting easy goals does not push one towards achieving them, but impossible goals are, of course, unrealistic. Therefore, setting moderate goals with specific plans and foreshadowing failure can help achieve any kind of goal.

    • Setting Challenging yet Realistic Goals for Optimal Recruitment of Autonomic Nervous System.Focus on one to three major goals per year, avoid contamination of mental space with too many goals, and moderate goals are best for successful achievement in life.

      Set goals that are challenging yet realistic for optimal recruitment of the autonomic nervous system and ongoing pursuit of the goal. Goals that are too easy or too lofty do not engage the neural and vascular systems needed for effort and motivation, resulting in quick abandonment. To bias goal achievement, limit options and focus on one to three major goals per year. Life may be complicated, but it is crucial to not contaminate mental and visual space with too many goals. Update goals under different contexts and remember that how we perceive a goal depends on whether we are rested and other aspects of our life are going well. Moderate goals are best for success in goal achievement.

    • The Importance of Concrete Plans and Visual Sparseness in Achieving GoalsCreating a specific and detailed plan, regularly assessing and updating progress, and minimizing visual distractions can increase the likelihood of achieving goals. Companies harness visual attention to boost sales.

      Having a concrete plan with specific action steps is essential to achieving goals. The more specific and detailed the plan, the higher the probability of achieving it. Visual sparseness in the environment also helps us focus and behave better. Multiple interleaving goals require systems that allow isolation of those goals in a very rigid way. Assessing progress and updating concrete plans weekly can ensure a higher probability of meeting those action steps. It's important to control our visual attention by putting fewer things in front of us, and companies use this to their advantage by stocking shelves with many options to draw attention and increase sales.

    • Understanding Dopamine and MotivationDopamine is the molecule of motivation, released in response to positive and unexpected events. We can leverage its reward prediction error by setting milestones and updating our action plan, as depletion inhibits the ability to pursue goals.

      Dopamine is the molecule of motivation that sits at the heart of our motivational state to seek out goals and pleasure. It is released in response to positive and novel events that happen unexpectedly. Lesser dopamine is released when we anticipate something positive, and when the positive thing happens, there's a smaller increase in dopamine. We can leverage dopamine reward prediction error to try to reach our goals by setting milestones. It is important to update our action plan weekly based on our performance in the previous week. Depletion of dopamine in humans inhibits the ability to pursue or go through the series of action steps to achieve pleasure instead of inhibiting the ability to experience pleasure.

    • Setting Realistic Milestones and Consistent Progress Assessment for Successful Goal-Seeking.Break goals into manageable milestones, assess progress consistently, reward yourself for successes, and avoid dwelling on failures. Understand the role of the dopamine system in reward prediction and error to make better choices about setting milestones and evaluating progress.

      When pursuing goals, it's important to set realistic milestones and assess progress at intervals that you can maintain consistently. The subjective effects of behavior are essential for goal-seeking, and our sense of progress and success is under our cognitive control. We should reward ourselves cognitively for successful pursuit of our goals and avoid constantly thinking about failure. It's subjective, but we can make progress assessment objective by sticking a tractable schedule of assessing weekly. The reward schedule for the dopamine system is susceptible to the subjective effects, and we must understand reward prediction and error to make better choices about placing milestones and progress assessment.

    • The Importance of Dopamine in Achieving GoalsTo maintain motivation, reward yourself with positive feedback and evaluate progress regularly. Be cautious of using dopamine supplements and instead focus on consistently activating the dopamine system through goal achievement.

      To stay motivated and on track, it's important to anticipate and prepare for failure. Reward yourself with cognitive feedback consistently when you reach your goals to keep your dopamine system activated. Dopamine is critical for motivation and readiness to pursue our goals. The dopamine system is like a wave pool and consistent waves of dopamine are needed to reinforce the motivational states. Supplements and drugs that increase dopamine should be used with caution. Instead, focus on positive feedback and evaluate your progress regularly to keep the dopamine system activated. Dopamine also plays a role in visual attention and restoring dopamine can help reinforce visual focus.

    • Techniques for Increasing Motivation and Engagement towards GoalsUse behavioral tools like goal setting, action planning, and visualizing failure to engage neuroplasticity and modify neural circuitries to increase motivation. Supplements can aid focus, but use of techniques and tools help recruit chemical and neural systems towards goal pursuit.

      Focusing your visual attention and using behavioral tools can help increase motivation and engagement towards specific goals. Setting moderate and challenging goals, concretely planning actions, and visualizing failure can all aid in goal pursuit. Using the visual system to move from focusing on peri personal space to extra personal space, and back again, can also help increase flexibility and control over attention and perception. While certain supplements like L-tyrosine and caffeine can aid in focus, behavioral tools should be utilized first to engage neuroplasticity and modify neural circuitries. By using these tools and techniques, one can recruit chemical and neural systems in the brain and body that put us into a state of readiness and pursuit towards achieving our goals.

    • Practicing Space-time Bridging to Improve Focus and PerceptionBy practicing space-time bridging, you can improve your ability to allocate and manage your time effectively. This technique helps in sharpening your visual system while bridging space and time, making it useful for achieving goals.

      Practicing space-time bridging, where you focus your visual attention on different stations with varying amounts of attention on internal and external environments, can help improve your ability to carve up time and better achieve your goals. The process involves closing your eyes and focusing on your internal landscape, gradually expanding your attention to external stimuli. Practicing this technique for 90 seconds to three minutes can help you develop better focus, perception and awareness of your surroundings. The underlying science behind this technique helps to sharpen your visual system and effectively bridge space and time, making it a useful tool for setting and achieving your goals.

    • The Power of Space-Time Bridging in Goal SettingBy breaking down long-term goals into intermediate milestones and using our visual system to map to different timeframes, we can stay motivated and focused on achieving our desired outcomes. Moving between different visual stations and assessing our progress can greatly benefit our pursuit of goals.

      Focusing our visual attention outside of our body and orienting to different locations in space can help us effectively set and reach our goals. By breaking down goal setting into intermediate milestones and assessing our progress, we can use our visual system to map to different timeframes and engage our reward systems. Space-time bridging is a practice that can help us maintain long-term goal orientation while staying focused on immediate goals. An ability to move between different visual stations can greatly benefit our pursuit of goals and our overall success. By using our cognitive systems and reward systems to orient to different locations in space, we can carve up time and achieve our desired outcomes.

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    Dr. Casey Means: Transform Your Health by Improving Metabolism, Hormone & Blood Sugar Regulation

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    GUEST SERIES | Dr. Matt Walker: Improve Sleep to Boost Mood & Emotional Regulation

    GUEST SERIES | Dr. Matt Walker: Improve Sleep to Boost Mood & Emotional Regulation
    This is episode 5 of our 6-part special series on sleep with Dr. Matthew Walker, Ph.D., a professor of neuroscience and psychology at the University of California, Berkeley and the host of The Matt Walker Podcast. In this episode, we explain the connection between sleep and mood, emotional regulation and mental well-being.  We explain the role of rapid eye movement (REM) sleep in processing emotions and emotional memories and why sleep deprivation causes agitation, impulsivity and emotional reactivity.  We also discuss why sleep disruption is a hallmark feature of PTSD, anxiety, depression, suicidality, and other psychiatric conditions.  We explain protocols for improving REM sleep and other sleep phases in order to harness the therapeutic power of quality sleep to feel calmer and emotionally restored. This episode describes various actionable tools to improve sleep for those struggling with mental health or mood and those wanting to bolster their overall state and well-being.  The next episode in this special series explores dreams, including lucid dreaming, nightmares and dream interpretation. For show notes, including referenced articles and additional resources, please visit hubermanlab.com. Thank you to our sponsors AG1: https://drinkag1.com/huberman Eight Sleep: https://eightsleep.com/huberman LMNT: https://drinklmnt.com/huberman BetterHelp: https://betterhelp.com/huberman InsideTracker: https://insidetracker.com/huberman  Momentous: https://livemomentous.com/huberman Timestamps (00:00:00) Sleep & Mental Health (00:01:09) Sponsors: Eight Sleep, LMNT & BetterHelp (00:05:14) Emotions & Sleep, Amygdala (00:17:27) Emotional Memory & Sleep (00:25:48) “Overnight Therapy” & REM Sleep, Noradrenaline (00:29:13) Sponsor: AG1 (00:30:27) Sleep to “Remember & Forget”, Trauma; REM Sleep (00:38:27) Hinge Analogy; Motivation, Impulsivity & Addiction (00:47:08) Tool: Improve REM Sleep, Social Jet Lag, Alcohol & THC, Addiction (00:56:18) Sponsor: InsideTracker (00:57:23) Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) & REM Sleep (01:06:53) Noradrenaline & REM Sleep, PTSD & Prazosin (01:09:40) Addiction, Non-Sleep Deep Rest (NSDR); Liminal States (01:16:46) Anxiety & Sleep, Mood vs. Emotions (01:23:50) Deep Non-REM Sleep & Anxiety, Sleep Quality (01:28:51) Tool: Improve Deep Non-REM Sleep, Temperature; Alcohol (01:34:56) Suicidality & Sleep, Pattern Recognition; Nightmares (01:46:21) Depression, Anxiety & Time Context (01:51:24) Depression, Too Much Sleep?; REM Changes & Antidepressants (01:57:37) Sleep Deprivation & Depression (02:01:34) Tool: Circadian Misalignment & Mental Health, Chronotype (02:04:05) Tools: Daytime Light & Nighttime Darkness; “Junk Light” (02:13:04) Zero-Cost Support, Spotify & Apple Reviews, Sponsors, YouTube Feedback, Momentous, Social Media, Neural Network Newsletter Disclaimer

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