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  • Writer's pictureBrad Cunningham

The New Rules For Goal Setting

From an early age were told about goal setting, how important it is and how we should do it. We've all probably heard about SMART goals, but for many of us, we've been doing it completely wrong, missing out some vital pieces that will ensure you actually follow through on what you set out.

Now before you go tearing up the most recent goals you've written down, I want to first emphasise how important it is to write your goals down and follow the usual structure for setting your goals out.

Writing down your goals is such a powerful exercise, as it sets your intentions, your internal compass and gives direction.

In fact writing your goals or intentions down on paper turns on your reticular activating system (RAS) which is a fancy name for a small part of the brain that basically helps you maintain attention on the most important things to you at any given time.

If we didn't have it, we'd struggle to focus on one thing and achieve goals. We have all experienced this working at some point, for example if you've ever bought a new car, you probably noticed it everywhere once you purchased it, or if you plan a holiday to Europe you will all of a sudden start noticing all things associated to that destination (TV ads, conversations, billboards, posts on social media etc.).

When you write you're goals down, you are basically telling your RAS to start attracting those things into your life, which is awesome as it makes you 100 times more likely to achieve the things you've written down.

Now unfortunately this is where many people stop when it comes to goal setting, and although following the SMART model is great, and switching on your RAS will help, there are still some vital steps to follow to greatly enhance your success.

1. Understand What Your Goal Really Means to You.

When people write goals down, they will often write down the superficial stuff like; "I want to lose weight"

If they're following the SMART method they may even write down how much they want to lose, and by when.

However this is still only scratching the surface, you really want to spend some time unearthing WHY it's important to you, WHAT it's going to give you, and HOW you might FEEL when you do achieve it.

If your goal is to lose 10kg you want to write down WHY it's important, this could be:

To have more energy, feel more confident, enhance your performance, give you the courage to go for that promotion or maybe it's just to set a healthy example for your family, these reasons WHY are going to give you much more clarity around your main goal. So when things get tough, when you're not as motivated to train or meal prep you're able to draw on these things and continue to progress.

These things are also very important at the end when you do achieve the goal as it gives you some other methods of measuring your success, if you're only measuring from a physical aspect you may struggle to actually feel successful as you have only set physical or superficial checkpoints, checking in on your emotional and mental progress and having a way of measuring the success of this stuff will ensure you actually 'feel' successful when you get to the end goal.

2: Focus On Habits Not Goals

This final step is something I am always encouraging our members to do and the ones who succeed do it well.

What often happens is that people focus way too much energy and mental space on the end goal, (let's just use that example of 10kg again here) so if 10kg is the end goal, a number of things occur when you're so focused on this number alone

a) When you're checking in weekly it can be somewhat de-motivating when you only see a .5-1kg loss on the scales, because you're so focused on the 10kg loss you don't celebrate or appreciate the huge progress of losing that kilo or half a kilo. Remember progress = happiness, but if you're not focused on the progress you'll struggle to feel happy when you do make progress or even when you finally achieve the end goal.

b) When we're so focused on the bigger picture we forget the small stuff and we don't put enough importance on the small daily habits required to achieving the big goal. People who succeed make a full commitment to the habits and the lifestyle required to succeed.

When you make the commitment to the habits, it doesn't matter if you're feeling motivated or not because you do it anyway, you begin to move past motivation and into a mental space of clarity and purpose.

Daily habits need to be really simple, something you can easily achieve like 'drinking 2 ltrs of water'.

When we achieve something we get a surge of dopamine, which is a feel good hormone that we are highly addicted to, so when you're getting this surge of dopamine every day from achieving your small habits/goals you create an environment for success or basically train your brain to continue working for the reward, thus keeping you on track and achieving the end goal much sooner.

To ensure you really succeed:

What you need to remember is that we continually move the goal posts on ourselves, so often people get to their goal but still don't feel successful as they haven't checked in on their progress and celebrated their wins along the way, instead they're focused on where they are now and how far they are away from where they think they need to be, this is known as the 'horizon syndrome' as we're always chasing a goal we will never actually achieve, hence leaving us feeling unfulfilled and unhappy about where we currently are, this is why your habits and celebrating your progress are so important.

If you want to create meaningful goals and powerful habits, follow these questions:

My main goal is: (be very specific)

It's important to me because?

What will happen if I do achieve this?

What will happen if I don't achieve this?

What won't happen if I don't achieve this?

What won't happen if I do achieve this? You'll notice some confusing questions above, this is on purpose to confuse your brain and allow you to access some deeper more meaningful answers. It’s important you continue writing under each question until you cannot possibly think of anything else to write.

Then you need to write down 1 or 2 simple daily habits for each of these areas:




Lifestyle/me time

I wish you all the success.

Brad Cunningham

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