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Science-Backed Brain Hacks to Crush Your Goals

Dream it? Now do it.

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We're almost halfway through January, which means you're almost two weeks into your New Year's resolutions. Oftentimes, this can be the hardest point of a New Year resolution -- the point when you transition your goals into habits. But understand that they will get easier with time, all it takes now is persistence and motivation

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Related: The 17 Rules These Entrepreneurs Say You Should Break in 2017

If you're having a little trouble right now, don't worry. Here 7 tips that will help you keep pushing. 

1. Get bold.

Want to push your performance to the max? Make a stretch goal, rather than one that’s easily attainable. Penn State psychology professors found that big, lofty goals are correlated more strongly with improved performance than small goals. The higher the bar, the harder we push.

2. Narrow your focus.

So you want to pitch 20 new clients, build out the product line, and scout a second location? Time to pare down that to-do list. In a study in the Journal of Marketing Research, participants who picked just one goal achieved success at nearly double the rate of those who chased two or three at a time. 

Related: These 4 Books Changed These Leaders' Lives and Businesses for the Better

3. Grab a pen. 

Got a goal? Write it down. In a study at Dominican University, people who wrote down their objectives achieved roughly 50 percent more than people who merely thought about them. 

4. Think in ranges.

A study published in the Journal of Consumer Research shows that setting a goal within a range (say, raising revenue 8 to 10 percent) makes you more likely to stick with it than if you aim for a flat number. Even better: “You’ll be more likely to try to set a goal again in the future,” says lead researcher Maura Scott, a professor at Florida State University. 

5. Map it out.

A goal is great; a game plan is even better. In a study in the Journal of Applied Psychology, participants who spent two hours mapping out how they planned to achieve specific goals were more likely to find success. The researchers wrote: “Goal clarity increases persistence, making individuals less susceptible to the undermining effects of anxiety, disappointment and frustration.”

6. Enlist a friend.

An accountability buddy can work just as well in the boardroom as it does at the gym. Research shows that when people share weekly progress reports with a friend, their likelihood of success of reaching a goal climbs to 76 percent.

Related: 6 Easy Ways to Make Your Workspace Happy, Productive and Organized

7. Cue the immediate gratification.

Our brains naturally want to push off daunting tasks and let our future selves deal with them (the psych term for this is “present bias”). But a 2016 study in the Chicago Booth Review offers a way around your inner procrastinator: Give yourself small rewards in the near future and spur greater achievement of long-term goals. A slice of cake every time you cold-call an investor? A Friday night Netflix binge every week you advance the ball on your big goal? Whatever keeps you inching toward the finish line! 

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