Why Goal Setting Works
So, why does the simple process of writing out goals and visualizing their accomplish-
ment, work? Although there are many theories about this, one that I have personally ob-
served is related to what is called the “reticular activating system,” an integral part of
every person’s brain and motivation process.
The Reticular System is the attention center in the brain. It is the key to “turning on
the subconscious capabilities of our creative mind.” Many believe it to be the
center of motivation. The Reticular Activating System determines
what we pay attention to. In other words, it is the part of your
brain where the world “outside” of you, and your “inside”
world of thoughts and feelings—come together and meet.
Normally, our reticular system “screens out” the mass of
information that is all around us. There is simply too much
information for us to pay attention to. Anything that is not
important at the moment, is “tuned-out.”
For example, when we are in the middle of a noisy crowd
such as might be found in an airport or at a basketball game,
we are not even conscious of the many different con-
versations going on all around us. However, if someone calls
out our name or the name of a family member, we pay immediate
attention and instantly “tune-in”. Our reticular system says that these names are impor-
tant, so we are always ready to hear them.
Goal setting is the process of telling your reticular system what is important to you, so
that it lets in information that is important to the achievement of the particular goal.
The goal comes first…
Have you ever had the experience of setting a goal, but at the time—you had no idea
whatsoever how you were going to achieve it? People who understand the inner work-
ings of the reticular process, do this all of the time. They set specific and time limited
goals (often bearing the ridicule of family members and friends) even though they have
little idea of how they are going to accomplish them. Then, sometimes