Goals, by their very nature, are set with the future in mind. They’re what we plan to achieve later on.

But what if we told you that by reflecting – right now – on what reaching those goals would actually look and feel like, you’d have a much better chance of achieving them?

Imagine that your goal is to travel to Italy. Mentally, step into a time machine and travel six months into the future, the day after you’ve arrived and achieved your goal. What do you feel, taste, hear, see? Perhaps the Italian sun warming your face, the taste of spaghetti al pomodoro, the smell of fresh basil, the clink of glasses, the sight of you, sitting outside a little trattoria tucked away on a cobblestoned street. You get the idea.

It may sound hokey, but the benefits of imagination are actually based in science and can just as easily be applied to work-related goals. Perhaps you want to be promoted, be more organized, or head up an R&D team for an amazing new product? Imagining success will help get you there.

Clever Companies Understand Goal Setting

Clever companies are leveraging the neuroscience of successful goal setting. They understand that the goals you’re likely to achieve are the ones you can see and feel yourself achieving.

Imagining a mini movie of your goal makes it part of your brain, and thanks to neuroplasticity, your brain then starts to create mental pathways. You’re more likely to achieve the goal because you’re connecting the dots way ahead of time.

But imaging just any goal doesn’t mean you’ll get there. Two additional criteria are needed to make them stick.

First, the goal has to be meaningful to you personally, not goals we’ve inherited from someone else. Secondly, the goal should invoke positive feelings. Emotions move us into action; telling your brain this is something to pay attention to. Emotion creates ‘stickiness’; we’re more likely to store that goal in our hippocampus – our brain’s personal iCloud or library system – so we don’t forget it.

Setting goals that evoke your senses means setting yourself up for success. So next time you set a goal, get in that mental time machine and really soak in that feeling of success.

Noesis delivers neuroleadership consulting and training to organizations handling everyday change and major transformation initiatives. We help our clients scientifically improve leadership.