9 ways to reach your goal

Scientists say when people have goals, they feel happier and achieve more than those without them. Achieving a goal you've set produces dopamine, a neurotransmitter responsible for feelings of pleasure. Reciprocally, dopamine activates neural circuitry that makes you eager to pursue new challenges.

People without goals are just drifting. Goals provide a measuring stick for progress. Goals enhance productivity. They bolster self-esteem. And most of all, goals increase commitment, so you're more likely to achieve whatever you set out to conquer, Psychologytoday.com reports. Here is 9 ways to reach your goal: 1. Put your goals in writing. The act of writing down what you are going to do is a strong motivator. Writing down goals prevents you from leaving your goals vague. Be specific. Use action verbs. Let your goals have measurable outcomes. Specify completion dates. Also record what your reward will be for achieving the goal.

2. Make a list of obstacles. Think of everything that might stand in your way. Design a plan to reduce the influence of each obstacle and increase the chances that you will be successful in reaching your goal.

3. List the benefits of achieving your goal. Knowing exactly what you will gain from reaching your goal is a strong motivator. 4. Identify subgoals. Break down complicated plans into manageable chunks. Be specific about what has to be accomplished. Decide what you are going to do, and when.

5. Learn what you need to learn. If information or skill is keeping you from achieving your goals, determine ways to fill in the gaps, and build this into your action plan. Be willing to study and work hard to reach your goals.

6. Enlist the help of others. Find someone, a coworker or friend, with whom you share a common goal. Get someone to go to the gym with you, or to quit smoking with you, or to share healthy meals with you. A partner can help you stay committed and motivated.

7. Visualize yourself having achieved each of your goals. The more real you can make your visualization, the better. Describe your ideal life in the future. Write a few paragraphs describing what you have accomplished, and how your life is better as a result.

8. Get organized -- when you are prepared and organized, you will feel better about your ability to reach your goals. Set up a filing system, set aside your workout clothes.

9. Reward yourself each step of the way. Let yourself feel good about progress you've made. Treat yourself to rewards that will give you a lift as you accomplish each subgoal on your road to success. I.L.

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