The Science of Achievement: 7 Research-Backed Tips to Set Better Goals - Scott H Young - Deepstash

Keep reading for FREE

Goal setting: the good and bad

Goal setting: the good and bad

Setting goals can change your life for the better. For example, goals can help you get in shape, improve your finances, or launch a business. But goal-setting can also make you feel miserable. Potential problems are disillusionment and burnout.

The difference between success and burnout lies in how your goals are designed.


475 reads

Aim for hard, not impossible

Psychologist Edwin Locke's research on goal-setting shows three important findings:

  • Setting goals improves performance.
  • Hard goals improve performance better than easy ones.
  • Specific targets work better than "trying to do your best."

Other research shows that easy goals lead to poor efforts, and too hard goals also lead to poor efforts. That means that goals should be challenging but not overly difficult.


271 reads

Use the 80% rule

Use the 80% rule

We can motivate ourselves to pursue our goals using the 80% rule.

Track your smaller goals (30 days goals) and track your success rate. If you're under 80%, try setting a more achievable target. If you're over 80%, try something more challenging.


336 reads

Deadlines are poison for creative problem-solving

Deadlines are poison for creative problem-solving

One exception to specific, challenging goals is creative problem-solving. Tasks that need deep thinking, such as learning or creative work, goal-setting can become problematic. These tasks require all your working memory. A stressful deadline can hurt your ability to generate a creative solution. 

One solution is to set goals to work on a creative problem for a chunk of time without expecting results. This allows you to focus on the task.


202 reads

Visualize failure

Visualize failure

Visualise the difficulties that might come up when pursuing your goal and deciding in advance what you will do. You might get sick two weeks into an exercise program. Your exams get rescheduled.

Your motivation is usually at its highest when setting the goals. Planning for difficulties can keep you from abandoning your goal when things get tough.


178 reads

Keep it to yourself at first

Keep it to yourself at first

You don't have to tell other people about your goals. 

Peter Gollwitzer found that telling people about your goals can act as a substitute for actually taking action. Announcing our goals can make us feel like we have already done something and result in putting in less effort.


212 reads

Break it down and make yourself accountable

Break it down and make yourself accountable

Research shows that we procrastinate when we perceive tasks as unpleasant.

When we set goals, our motivational hardwiring doesn't cope well with things in the future. We'll start to slack when the deadline is in the far future, and the immediate work isn't enjoyable.

  • The key is to break down your goals into smaller, daily actions.
  • Try to create an incentive to stick to the daily plan.


137 reads

Set goals you want to achieve (not only those you feel you should)

Set goals you want to achieve (not only those you feel you should)

Much of the stress from setting goals comes from goals that are not truly your own. 

External incentives, such as paying someone to complete an otherwise interesting puzzle, could dampen internal motivation. Too many outside goals make it harder to motivate ourselves consistently.

However, life-affirming goals feel deeply meaningful and easier to achieve.


183 reads



There's nothing better than a good cup of tea and a good book.

Ready for the next level?

Read Like a Pro


Explore the World’s

Best Ideas

200,000+ ideas on pretty much any topic. Created by the smartest people around & well-organized so you can explore at will.

An Idea for Everything

Explore the biggest library of insights. And we've infused it with powerful filtering tools so you can easily find what you need.

Knowledge Library

Powerful Saving & Organizational Tools

Save ideas for later reading, for personalized stashes, or for remembering it later.

# Personal Growth

Take Your Ideas


Organize your ideas & listen on the go. And with Pro, there are no limits.

Listen on the go

Just press play and we take care of the words.

Never worry about spotty connections

No Internet access? No problem. Within the mobile app, all your ideas are available, even when offline.

Get Organized with Stashes

Ideas for your next work project? Quotes that inspire you? Put them in the right place so you never lose them.


2 Million Stashers



5,740 Reviews

App Store



72,690 Reviews

Google Play

Sean Green

Great interesting short snippets of informative articles. Highly recommended to anyone who loves information and lacks patience.

Ashley Anthony

This app is LOADED with RELEVANT, HELPFUL, AND EDUCATIONAL material. It is creatively intellectual, yet minimal enough to not overstimulate and create a learning block. I am exceptionally impressed with this app!

Shankul Varada

Best app ever! You heard it right. This app has helped me get back on my quest to get things done while equipping myself with knowledge everyday.


Don’t look further if you love learning new things. A refreshing concept that provides quick ideas for busy thought leaders.

Ghazala Begum

Even five minutes a day will improve your thinking. I've come across new ideas and learnt to improve existing ways to become more motivated, confident and happier.

Giovanna Scalzone

Brilliant. It feels fresh and encouraging. So many interesting pieces of information that are just enough to absorb and apply. So happy I found this.

Laetitia Berton

I have only been using it for a few days now, but I have found answers to questions I had never consciously formulated, or to problems I face everyday at work or at home. I wish I had found this earlier, highly recommended!

Jamyson Haug

Great for quick bits of information and interesting ideas around whatever topics you are interested in. Visually, it looks great as well.

Read & Learn

20x Faster





Access to 200,000+ ideas

Access to the mobile app

Unlimited idea saving & library

Unlimited history

Unlimited listening to ideas

Downloading & offline access

Personalized recommendations


Claim Your Limited Offer

Get Deepstash Pro


75% OFF | 1-Year Pro Subscription

Claim Offer