I have been focusing over the past few years on helping people achieve Big Goals, but thought it might be worth exploring why we, as humans, need Big Goals.
A study by the Department of Psychology at Royal Holloway College, University of London found that “people who could identify a goal they were pursuing were 19 % more likely to feel satisfied with their lives and 26 percent more likely to feel positive about themselves”.
How do you feel when you achieve something you did not think you could achieve ? Something that scared you, something that pushed your limits, something that meant sacrifices and pain ? Do you feel proud ? Do you feel complete relief ? Do you feel emotional ? Do you feel amazing ?
I listened to Geraint Thomas being interviewed as he won the Tour De France. He was emotional, excited, speechless – he couldn’t believe what he had achieved, but knew how hard he had worked to get there over many years.
When we achieve a Big Goal it creates feelings and emotions in us like nothing else in life.
The Science of the Brain
Our brain releases chemicals, called neurotransmitters to change the way we feel. There are 2 main chemicals linked to the achievement of Big Goals:
1. Dopamine and Endorphins
“Any kind of novelty or excitement drives up dopamine in the brain, and dopamine is associated with romantic love” Helen Fisher
Dopamine is the chemical that is released when you achieve something significant. It is like a reward drug from your brain. It creates that fantastic feeling you get when you achieve a goal. The bigger the goal, the higher the risk, the harder you have worked to achieve it so the more dopamine that you brain releases. It is that “feel good” feeling we search for when we are putting in all the work to achieve our goals.
After you jump out of a plane and land safely, it is dopamine that is released. When you step on stage to make an important speech to 100s of people and you get a standing ovation, it is dopamine that is released.
It is also the chemical released in large amounts during sex. Vaughn Bell called it the Kim Kardasian of molecules!
Dopamine, like all narcotics can be addictive. Which is why achieving Big Goals can be addictive. This is a good thing for most of us, as it drives us to seek out the next Big Goal. For some it can be dangerous.
There are many wing suit parachutists that have gone from free falling, to base jumping, to wing suit
jumping in the search for more and more dopamine, but unfortunately 50% plus die in their efforts.
The same is true for free divers or big wave surfers.
So Dopamine is the chemical release we seek when we are on our journey towards Big Goals.
Endorphins are the chemicals that are released when we are excited or nervous. It is described as being natures morphine to numb pain or relieve stress. However, because it feels good when it is released it gives us a reward feeling for pushing ourselves. It excites us to have the energy and motivation to push on.
It is also released in large amounts during sex.
It is different to adrenaline which is pumping when we do something that triggers the fight or flight response, whether we are doing something new or we are just scared. Adrenaline gets you to step over the start line.
Endorphins create the reward for being brave enough to do so.
The relevance to Big Goals is similar to Dopamine. The Bigger the struggle on the journey, the more you are pushing yourself outside your comfort zone, the more Endorphins are released.
Therefore the first reason that we need Big Goals is that our body rewards us with great feelings from 2 powerful chemicals that are released in direct proportion to how Big the Goal is and how much you have stepped outside your comfort zone.
So what Big Goal will you go for now? If you know your next Big Goal and you want to find a structure or formula for achieving it then please read my book Yucan: Achieve any Big Goal using the 7P formula for success or come to my London Workshop on 30 th January 2019.
Wishing you every success on your Big Goal Journey.