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Only Idiots Do SMART GOALS: The Science of Goal Setting In 2021

If one does not know to which port one is sailing, no wind is favorable.*"

Seneca, the OG high-performance-guru, philosopher, and stoic uttered those profound words around the time the New Testament was being written.

About 1800 years later another cool cat said much the same thing:

If you don't know where you are going, any road will take you there.”

(Do you know who said that and when? Let me know and I'll send you a little special sumthin' sumthin'.)

Seneca’s point is that setting goals is key. Without goals you can work like crazy, grind all day, and spin your wheels with nothing to show for it but exhaustion and frustration.

But jotting down just any ol' goal in a notebook you then throw into a desk drawer for a year—or three—doesn't just magically cures what ails ya.

You’ve got to set the right goals, and set goals the right way.

The question is, how do you do that?


[Order Steven Kotler's new book, The Art of Impossible: A Peak Performance Primer]


The good news is there is solid neuroscience that shows us how to do goal setting correctly and, as luck would have it, in this week's episode of Flow Research Collective Radio, Steven Kotler, Dr. Brent Hogarth and Rian Doris discuss the science of goal setting as it relates to kicking off 2021.

You’re going to love it.

Here’s just some of what you'll learn:

  • Why the “R” in SMART goals destroys your results.
  • How big you should make your goals (and how big is too big).
  • The 3 types of goals and how to set and achieve each type.
  • Why NOT aiming big is physically bad for you.
  • Why it's old school to share your goals.

Go Here To Listen To The Full Episode On How To Set Better Goals


Hey. Are you still here reading instead of listening to the episode?

What's that?

You think using the word "idiot" is a bit harsh?

You think I should either explain myself or check myself before you click to listen to the entire episode?

You know what?

That's a fair request and I'm a fair guy.

But is it also fair to assume that you're here reading my stuff because you're interested in achieving more, faster, with less effort, more fun, and less stress, and that in today's day and age we should speak as adults and cut to the chase?



I can see we're going to get along just fine.

So here's a little more info on what you'll learn in this episode and why "realistic" goal-setting is for idiots.

Your Mind Wants—Needs—Hard Goals

You don't understand yourself because you don't know yourself and a big part of yourself is your brain, which you don't know jack-diddly-squat about, okay?

We could go on forever discussing the brain, but the important thing to realize is that your brain wants to keep you alive.

An important ways it does so, insofar as goal setting is concerned, is by filtering, which is done based on fear and...goals.

Fear Filtering

Your brain filters by fear first because the things we fear as humans are usually the things that can harm and/or kill us, so it makes sense to start here.

However, we allow our caveman brains to exert too much control over our 21st century brains, which holds you back from getting into flow and reaching the stars.

So if you can reduce, eliminate, and/or move beyond the fear you'll notice you have access to more new information, which is what you need to achieve your goals.

Goal Filtering

When you're not living in fear your good goals will also help your brain filter the massive volume of information thrown at you every second of every day in the "real world."

Goals are part of the story you tell yourself and when your goals are appropriate and sufficiently scary, they can and will propel you to greatness.

However, there is a recipe for goal setting that includes three levels that encompass the seven neural networks of drive, all of which—and more—are discussed in this one-hour, nine-minute, 27 second podcast that can change your life forever.

Will you now please give it a listen?

Market like you mean it.
Now go sell something.


*I'm in talks with the Free Research Collective to fill their role as Head of Content Marketing. This post is based on their podcast, "Flow Research Collective Radio," which is led by Steven Kotler.