The Science of Setting & Achieving Goals

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In this episode, Dr. Huberman discusses the science of setting, assessing, and pursuing goals. He explains the neural (brain) circuits that underlie goal setting and pursuit. Then he describes nine science-supported tools anyone can apply toward their goals. Dr. Huberman explains when and how to use goal visualization, when to use multitasking and how to use specific rewards to improve the likelihood of reaching your goals. He also explains why envisioning failures and their consequences are effective and how to set goals of the appropriate level of challenge. Dr. Huberman also explains how the molecule dopamine is used to gauge our progress toward milestones and long-term overarching goals and how to leverage dopamine for goal pursuit. Finally, he explains a unique tool called ‘space-time bridging’ that can be used to support all aspects of goal setting, assessment, and pursuit. This episode ought to be useful for anyone seeking to improve their performance in work, school, exercise, athletics, or personal development.


  • 00:00:00 The Neuroscience of Goals
  • 00:01:56 Tool 1: Learn Fast(er) by the 85% Rule
  • 00:06:04 LMNT, Athletic Greens, ROKA
  • 00:13:55 Brain Circuits for Setting & Pursuing Goals
  • 00:21:52 Determining the Value of Goals
  • 00:24:33 Psychology of Goal Setting: Assessing Value, Action Steps
  • 00:30:29 Peripersonal Space vs. Extrapersonal Space
  • 00:35:39 Visually Focusing on a Goal Line Improves Performance
  • 00:43:50 How Vision Improves Performance: Blood Pressure
  • 00:51:55 Tool 2: Use Focal Vision to Initiate Goal Pursuit
  • 00:54:40 Tool 3: Use Aged Self-Images to Self-Motivate
  • 00:59:33 Tool 4: Visualization of Goals is Only Helpful at the Start
  • 01:02:05 Tool 5: Visualizing Failure is the Best Ongoing Motivator
  • 01:07:26 Tool 6: Make Goals Moderately Lofty
  • 01:13:05 Tool 7: Avoid Goal Distraction; Focus on 1-2 Major Goals Per Year
  • 01:15:57 Tool 8: Ensure Specificity of Goals, Weekly Assessment
  • 01:19:57 Dopamine, Motivation & Pleasure in Seeking Goals
  • 01:22:43 Dopamine Reward Prediction Error, Controlling Dopamine
  • 01:34:26 How Dopamine Influences Vision & Vice Versa
  • 01:38:10 Interim Summary of Goal-Pursuit Steps
  • 01:39:50 Tool 9: Space-Time Bridging
  • 01:49:59 Summary
  • 01:51:50 Subscribe, Sponsors, Patreon, Supplements: Thorne, Instagram, Twitter, Newsletter