Crossing items off a to-do list gives the brain a dopamine bump, and that pleasant feeling encourages people to repeat behaviors. Achieving goals starts by first setting them. Achieving small goals can be just as pleasurable for the brain as achieving large goals. However, some people struggle with gaining the momentum to achieve big goals. To break long-term goals into short-term accomplishments, individuals can follow the guidelines of the STTARR model:
* See the goal–visualize it and write it down.
* Touch on something to do with the goal every day.
* Think about how the last step taken toward the goal went.
* Adjust the plan, if necessary.
* Reward oneself in small ways to maintain motivation.
* Repeat until the goal has been achieved.
Another trick for achieving goals is to use the “5D” system. Under this system, each item on a to-do list is placed into one of five categories:
- Do: Stuff that can be checked off the list today.
- Delegate: Stuff that needs to be done today or soon and can be passed along to a subordinate.
- Delay: Items that can be pushed off for now (items should not stay here for more than four days).
- Discard: Items that can be removed from the list.
- Dream: This is a big goal to achieve in one’s lifetime. This item should go on the bottom of every new to-do list going forward.