How to Set a Goal and See It Through

How to Change Your Mind to Change Your Brain to Make Change

by David Krueger, MD

None of us have problems setting objectives, it’s actually accomplishing them that’s the problem. We talk about change so much in our lives. We want to break bad habits, we want to learn new things and we want to improve our lives it all boils down to change. But how do we actually do it?

To simply stop doing something is not complete change. Of course change always starts with abstaining from or commencing something, but that is only a beginning. To actually instill change takes a lot more effort. You need to reprogram your mind to do something completely new.

We are not hard-wired for life. Creating new skills involves fundamental changes in the brain and it can even alter your genes. Believe it or not, when we change our minds, we change our brains. Neuroscience validates how powerful real change is.

The Right Way to Change

In order to change any part of ourselves, we need conscious practices and effective tools. We are faced with new choices each and every day, and we generally react based on our experiences. The caveat that comes with change is this: You have to diminish preprogrammed responses and look at every situation as a new experience. In other words, a new story has to replace the old one.

There are no short cuts, but there are effective methods to accelerate your transformation – that’s what I’m here for.

Identify the Markers

In every voyage, there are clear signposts. And when it’s a voyage in your mind, the signposts are there too. When setting a new goal for yourself, it is imperative to aim for the markers. Many people believe that a massive change can happen in one single bound – wrong! Change happens over the course of several clear goals. Let’s take a look at five markers.

Precisely specify the goal and agenda

Clarify your agenda so that it is clear, specific, and simple. If the goal is not clear, the agenda and strategy will not be either. Be very specific about a goal—e.g., ‘get into shape’ is not a goal, it is an outcome. Saying ‘lose 5 pounds in 2 months,’ is a much better goal.
Maintain focus on a specific issue until you have clarity. If there is no focus on an agenda, there can be no focus on success.

Determine what needs to happen

Identify what you need to do to further the goal of your agenda. This clarity will catalyze your approach from this point forward. For example, if you feel overwhelmed at work with the amount of tasks, clarify one issue that can be dealt with within the next day. These are called ?specific action exercises? and they will initiate a model for the next steps.

Convert obstacles into intentions

Internal obstacles such as fear and doubt can get in your way. But there is one very important factor to remember here – they are personal creations. You create your own fear, you create your own doubt, and so on. These internal obstacles can be very helpful if you know how to use them. Convert a fear into an intention. For example, if you are afraid of flying, an intention might be to get on an airplane. That may sound drastic, but these are the turning points in your mission—it takes hard moves to achieve hard results.

Highlight the solutions

Once you form a plan and immerse yourself in the process, problems dissolve into the possibilities. You will only be able to see this once you are into the process take my word on this.

Anxiety is a marker

With any new experience, anxiety and trepidation are expected. Think about it—you are in new territory, without familiar landmarks. You are making decisions that go against your gut instinct and you feel vulnerable. Anxiety is a sign of major progress. Again, don’t let this internal obstacle stifle you—use it to your advantage and keep on going.


This system is one template for change. Continue to focus on your goals and strategies to get there. Remember, most of us don?t have a problem setting goals, but only the best among us complete them.


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Author Geneen Roth lost everything to Bernie Madoff. Read her comments about The Secret Language of Money.