Three Ways Goal-Setting Can Improve Your Self-Esteem

Lauren Kukawinski Goal Setting

It’s no secret that goal-setting can help better your physical health and productivity but, did you know that it can also help your mental health and your confidence?

It’s a joke in our office about how Nicole and I live by our checklists. For every task in our office- from opening accounts to wrapping up our weeks on Fridays- we have a detailed checklist that we work through. As we have dug more into the benefits of goal setting through our 100 Days Challenge, I have found that there are some very good reasons why we have become co-chairs of the Checklist Fan Club. We might not have realized it, but our checklists actually serve as goals that we accomplish throughout the day and studies have shown that goal-setting has some major benefits for our mental health and self-esteem. 

Goal Setting makes you feel good. 

Dopamine is the “feel good” neurotransmitter that our brain releases every time we get or achieve something we desire, and science has shown that our brains give us a hit when checking off to-do lists. It’s also been shown that by breaking your goal down into “bite size” steps, you get a hit of dopamine every time you accomplish an action item. Not only does this make you feel good on the way to achieving your goal, but it actually encourages your brain to want to repeat the corresponding behavior meaning, you feel motivated to keep working towards your goal. 

Goal Setting encourages you to take better care of yourself. 

We are busier than ever and, in the midst of that business, it is easy to get caught up in just getting through the day. This focus on just surviving often means that self-care is put on the back burner. If you make taking care of yourself a priority and set goals such as drinking more water or starting a meditation practice, it actually causes you to take a more intentional approach to self-care. As you accomplish actionable steps on the way to achieving your overall goal, those dopamine hits will keep you motivated helping make your goal and your self-care a lifelong practice. To help you with your self-care goals, the University of Michigan released a “Weekly Motivator” that can help you start building better self-care practices for a lifetime. 

Goal Setting increases your chances of success.

Not only has science shown that goal setting is linked to feelings of self-confidence, motivation and autonomy (Locke & Lathan, 2006), a study by psychologist Gail Matthews in 2015 showed that when people wrote down their goals, they were 33% more successful in achieving them.  Those of us who have tried and failed at achieving our goals in the past know the disappointment that comes with that. However, if we change our tactics and implement a plan, we can change our outcomes and our feelings about ourselves. Intentional goal-setting where you write down your goals and create an action plan for them is more likely to result in feeling like a success, and who doesn’t want that? 

Through our dedication to our checklists, Nicole and I have seen the benefits of conscious goal-setting in our every day lives without even realizing it. However, it is important to note that in order to see the benefits of goal setting, you need to lay the foundation of success by setting SMART goals. Our checklists help us break down a larger goal into smaller, more manageable steps, keep us accountable, and make us feel good along the way. Now, pardon me while I go and check writing this blog off of my checklist for the day. 

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Locke, E. A., & Latham, G. P. (2006). New Directions in Goal-Setting Theory. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 15(5), 265-268.