The Problem With Goal Setting and How to Overcome It to Ensure You Hit Your Goals.
A Blog by Pádraic Ó Máille.

Make no mistake about it. Goal setting works dynamically.

Anyone who’s ever minded a child will be aware of that dynamic.

I’m minded of a time many years ago when I was taking my son Oige for a pre-lunch Sunday stroll to whet his appetite. As we sauntered out the ‘Prom’ we happened to pass another father and child combination except that this child was gorging gustily into a 99 ice cream cone.

‘I want a cone like that’ stated Oige reasonably.

‘Later love’ I replied equally reasonably.

‘I want a cone like that now’ roared Oige, loud enough for others to hear and look.

‘You can’t have a cone now because it’s too close to your lunch’ I explained logically, rationally and assertively.

As he leaped from the baby buggy and proceeded to scream and roar on the ground I moved quickly to avert the attention we were receiving by whispering closely into his ear.

‘You can have a cone like that now but don’t tell your mother.’

Psychologists refer to this process as ‘cognitive dissonance.’ Artists and entrepreneurs prefer to call it ‘creative tension.’ Oige didn’t know what it was called but even at two years of age he’d mastered how it worked.

The first fact to be aware of about your brain is that it’s a teleological (as in television) machine. It’s constantly dealing in pictures. And typically, it likes to focus on just one single frame or picture at a time. Therefore, when there’s a conflict about which picture to focus on your brain activates it’s awesome creative mechanism.

When you think about it, it happens all the time. You see an outfit / car / house that you’d really like (future picture) but current reality (present picture) is that you’re stoney broke and can’t possibly afford it. And that dissonance or tension kicks in and you become aware of a myriad of ways of acquiring your goal.

The quirk of nature, and the paradox of goal setting, is that your brain is also a ‘forgetting machine.’ Whilst we do have on occasion magnificent and lofty goals our brains are absolutely hard wired to the present moment.

This explains why at times you have a goal (future ideal picture) of creating the perfect body but you get waylaid by the temptation of the cheese and onion crisps followed by a few cool beers (present moment.)

Robert Allen, and his son Aaron, make this point wonderfully in their new book ‘The Four Maps of Happy Successful People.’ They explain that ‘one moment we can be totally clear on what we want, why we want it, and exactly how to get it, and the next moment we forget completely and slip back into our old unproductive routines and thought processes.

‘The latest neuroscience (plus a lot of common sense) shows that our brains really, really don’t like change. They like to keep doing things the way they’ve always done them. If we try to change, our brains try to rebound back to old behaviours and thought patterns. They boomerang. If you’re reading this (and you’re human), it’s likely that your normal thought patterns often lead you to procrastinate, fail to reach goals, lack direction and clarity, feel overwhelmed, overstressed, and lost in chaos.’

‘The secret of long-term behavioural change is to be in that big picture state of mind as much as possible—not just once each year with New Year’s Resolutions, not only when the sunset falls just right behind the sea, and not just when we look into the eyes of a newborn.’

‘The answer is simple but very deep: We can’t really stop our brains from being long-term forgetting machines—it’s something we just have to accept and live with—but we can overcome the problem by turning on a daily “reminding machine.” We can keep telling our brains, in powerful ways, exactly how we want them to think, to view the world, and to approach and overcome challenges. The most successful people in the world have the same brains as everyone else, but they choose to be in control. They don’t let their forgetting machines determine how they view situations—they tell their brains how to react to the world, and they do it as part of a routine, every single day.’

There you have it. A BFO. A Blinding Flash of Obvious.

We’ve been preaching it in SMÁCHT since the day we started.


I was steeped lucky to read ‘The Four Maps of Happy Successful People’ on holiday in the south of France two weeks ago. I began the simple daily discipline of mapping my goals and I’ve got to tell you that already I see the difference.

So much so that I’ve created my own SMÁCHT MAP to dramatically and explosively help you become a happy and successful person. It appeals to the six operating systems of your brain.

It’s visual. It’s true. A picture is worth a 1000 words to your brain.

It’s tactile. Your brain recognises powerfully and instantly your own handwriting.

It’s reminding. It puts your salient key goals centre stage each day and prevents them getting dissipated by the assault of ‘current temptations.’

It’s questioning. Ultimately the process of thinking is nothing more than a process of asking and answering questions. In order to change the quality of your life you need to change the quality of your habitual questions. The SMÁCHT MAP poses seven critical questions that will literally turbocharge your happiness and success.

It’s quick. Your brain responds to speed. You can complete the MAP in less than 10 minutes a day.

It’s habit forming. I began MAPPING on September 2nd and I now actually look forward to doing it daily. Already it has become a habit. Your brain is intrinsically lazy and loves habits. This may well become one of the most valuable habits in your business and life.

I look forward hugely today to meeting up with four members of the first SMÁCHT group we ever had – Patricia O’Donnell, John Webb O’Rourke, Damien McDonnell and Padraig Smith – to share SMÁCHT MAPPING with them.

If you are interested in learning and developing a habit that could transform your business and life contact me on or 0035387-2647817 for a free chat.