New Year’s is a time people often set goals for themselves for the upcoming year, and science has proven that setting goals—whether you reach them or not—improves your productivity, satisfaction and perspective. Mental health expert Emily Rivera says creating goals engages the reticular activating system within our brain, which organically promotes the engagement and attention necessary to recognize the steps and opportunities that help us reach our goals. If we don’t set goals we fail to get the benefits of using this part of our brain, and can therefore get more easily distracted and lose the motivation needed to create the life we want. Additionally, setting a goal helps establish a system of accountability as well as helps measure progress over time. If you do not meet your goal, that’s ok too. Rivera says failing makes us actively discern between what worked and what didn’t so we can try a different, more efficient way the next time. Also, licensed marriage and family therapist Jenny Black says failing and learning from it might provide more value than continually achieving as sometimes failing delivers us something we need rather than what we want—and teaches us an essential lesson in acceptance in the process.
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