Mastery Goals


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By Niel Malan - Business Coach. Discovered by Player FM and our community — copyright is owned by the publisher, not Player FM, and audio is streamed directly from their servers. Hit the Subscribe button to track updates in Player FM, or paste the feed URL into other podcast apps.

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Full Transcript

[The following is the full transcript of this Vlog: “Mastery Goals”

Hey everybody Niel Malan here, South Africa’s number one business coach and welcome to the next episode of our video blog on Thanks for tuning in. It’s good to be with you today. In the last couple of episodes we’ve been talking about some distinctions regarding goal achievement and I guess achievement overall. And today I want to share with you a really, really important distinction that’s recently been made regarding goal achievement.

Have you ever wondered why some people tend to set these goals, make progress and then tend to stop? And then, a year later set the same goals again, makes some progress and then stop again and then eventually never start again. Whereas some people tend to achieve virtually all the goals that they set for themselves, have you ever been curious about this? Have you ever been curious about this in your own life maybe? Well listen I’ve got good news for you. If goals, achieving goals and accomplishing objectives is important to you I have a really, really good and important distinction for you.

So let me lead by telling you something that I learned from my mentor, a guy called Anthony Robbins. Who’s just a beautiful man. He was such an incredible inspiration in my life.

A couple of years ago, in fact probably the year 1999 if I recall, I went into a nine day programme of his called ‘Life Mastery’ and this was at Kona in Hawaii in a place called the Hilton Waikoloa Village. It was the most magnificent experience of my life, it was incredible. We had three thousand, three and a half thousand people there rocking and rolling for nine days solid. It was an unbelievable experience. And of the many things that I learned at this programme, I’ve learned something from Tony that I’ve never ever forgotten. Tony Robbins was talking about this whole idea of people achieving goals hoping it’s going to bring them happiness and it doesn’t. And he was saying that most people misunderstand the purpose of setting goals. He said, “The purpose of setting a goal is not what you attain, it is who you become in the process of achieving it.” You know and for some reason it’s always stuck with me. I always thought wow isn’t it beautiful that the purpose of setting goals is the growth that you go through as a person and the learning and the expansion of your own consciousness. And the transcendence we spoke about last week when you are on the pursuit of a goal, rather than the attainment of the goal itself. I’ve never ever forgotten that. Now two or three years ago I really made a study of self-discipline, willpower and accelerated achievement because I had kind of a bit of a private research project going on. You know I’ve been reading personal development books and I’ve been studying all the big names, all the gurus for the better part now of twenty-five years. And I started getting curious, is there any science to really back up many of the popular theories. So for example, is there scientific evidence that visualisation produces results? Is there scientific evidence that affirmations produce results? Is there scientific evidence to say that people can become pervasively more optimistic than what they were? I just got curious what does the science say. So what I did is I started studying a brand of psychology called positive psychology. I started studying also neuropsychology; neuro-sociology and I started studying a whole bunch of sciences that are backed by proper science. And I once came across the study about goal achievement that completely blew me away. And this is what I want to talk to you about today. So ladies and gentlemen, drum roll. Without any further ado, I want to talk to you today about the difference between a mastery goal versus an outcome goal.

If you’ve read any literature on goal achievement, no doubt you’ve heard about SMART goals right. Everybody writes about Smart goals. You know the goal has to be specific, it has to be measureable, it has to be attainable, it has to be realistic, it has to have a timeline right. So that’s kind the sum total goal achievement literature out there. If you read anything of goal setting, I promise you people are going to write about SMART goals. Now I’ve been curious about the subject I just told you about, is there any scientific evidence that setting a SMART goal leads you to a greater probability of achieving your goal and the answer is absolutely not.

Now I know you must be going ‘what!’ Have people been lying to me all this time? You know it’s not that people have been lying to you all this time, there are aspects to the SMART goal setting methodology that are true. It’s better to be specific than to be vague, absolutely. It’s better to be realistic than to be completely unrealistic. Although you know I also have a philosophical disagreement with it because usually your unrealistic goals move you, they inspire you. If I had to say to you set a realistic goal, how much inspiration is there in that? Come on! You know what I mean. So, so I don’t know. But, so there’s aspects to the SMART goal setting methodology that are true. But here’s a couple of disturbing bits of research that a lot of people have never heard of about and I never did until I found out.

So the first is, popular wisdom says that you have to visualise your goals in such vivid details like you are experiencing it right now. And you have to say your affirmations in present tense. So instead of saying, “I am going to make a million dollars” you say, “I’ve made a million dollars.” Right, so everything is present tense. Do you know what the science says about this? It says that your chances of achieving a goal is less than if you don’t. I know. Here’s why, I’ll explain it to you from a neurology standpoint and I’ll try my best to keep it simple.

The neurotransmitter in our brain that is responsible for motivation is a neurotransmitter called dopamine. This is also the neurotransmitter responsible for focus. So norepinephrine and dopamine primarily are the two neurotransmitters responsible for focus and goal attainment right. The neurotransmitter serotonin and the other neurotransmitter oxytocin, those make you feel good. Those are the feel good hormones, neurotransmitters. What usually happens is when people are in a craving state, in other words they still want something. The dopamine receptors in your brains are activated and your body is pumping out dopamine so that you can stay focused, and driven and inspired and follow through. And the instant you achieve your goal, instead of having more dopamine and norepinephrine manufactured in this beautiful thing called your brain, more serotonin and sometime oxytocin gets manufactured. Which is a satiety hormone; it kind of makes you feel good. And guess what? It takes away the motivation for goal achievement. So when you realise, when you visualise in vivid detail I’ve achieved this goal your brain cannot discern between what’s real and what’s imagined. And as a result of this the science says that; don’t shoot me I’m just the messenger. The science says that people lose their motivation to follow through and they lose their drive.

So there’s one myth dispelled for you. Have you watch ever Mythbusters on TV? Well welcome to Malan’s mythbusters right. Got you on this one. Now it’s not all bad news, here’s the good news. There’s a wonderful, wonderful social scientist called Carol Dweck who wrote an unbelievable book called ‘Mindset’. I really suggest you pick it up. And in this book Mindset she talks about how people’s’ performance over time is hugely influenced by whether they have a fixed mindset or a growth mindset. A fixed mindset is what most people have. They think in terms of absolutes. They think in terms of black or white, up or down, dark or light, success or failure. Either I achieved my goal or I failed at achieving my goal. It doesn’t take into account progress or learning. It takes; it judges thinks based on success or failure. When people have a fixed mindset, huge amount of procrastination. If you find yourself procrastinating on something, listen I never want you to call yourself a procrastinator ever again. Because nobody pops out of the wind and say, “Whoa look we’ve got ourselves a procrastinator over here” that just is ridiculous okay. There’s no such thing as a procrastinator, there are things that you procrastinate on right. I mean you’re not going to procrastinate on eating a chocolate cake, no. No motivation required that happens naturally right. But writing you book, procrastination. Do you know why? Because it’s a fixed mindset. There’s success or failure involved in the thought process. When people think in terms of growth, success or failures are possible. Think about it, if I realise that whatever I do it is it going to be a learning experience. I’m either going to learn what works, I’m going to learn what doesn’t work. But I’m doing it for the sake of growth I cannot succeed, I cannot fail either I can only make progress. They found that when people have the growth mindset they will have much less procrastination; significantly greater levels of resilience and follow through, self-discipline, willpower, focus, joy, inspiration, everything improves when you focus on mindset of growth.

And this is where I want to encourage you for this year, 2017. Remember I said this is your year. This year I want you to focus on what I call a mastery goal as opposed, and mastery goals, as opposed to outcome goals. A mastery goal focuses on the skills that you learn an outcome goal focuses on what you get at the end of being good at that skill.

The moment you focus on a mastery goal, I want to get good at this, I’m going to focus on my skill set, I want to become more of this less of that, you focus on behaviour. You focus on your personal development, you focusing on character, you focus on your own strengths, you focus on development, progress rather than perfection. I promise you absolutely everything will change. If you look at the greatest golfers in the world, if you look at Tiger Woods. Very much a growth oriented mindset. You will find in all the literature he’s constantly looking for that little bit of improvement and the success is a by-product of having mastery goals. And let me tell you one of the benefits of having a mastery goal versus outcome goals, you’re happier. Because you don’t have the fear of not achieving your goal all the time. And you don’t have the fear of failure all the time. In fact, you approach life with a childlike sense of anticipation of wonder of you know just excitement. Because learning is fun, learning is joyous learning is tremendously satisfying.

So there’s my little tip for today as far as goal achievements concerned. You will achieve ten times more this year if you focus on mastery goals and opposed to outcome goals. Go check out Carol Dweck’s book, it’s magnificent.

Please remember, like our Facebook page, share this with friends of yours if you feel this was valuable. Please share it. Sharing is caring. And until we chat again next week remember work hard, love openly, live fully and try something new today.

14 episodes