4 Reasons to Become a Goal Setting Beast

How would you like to improve your focus, concentration, motivation, and potentially become a better poker player more quickly and efficiently? I’m going to outline 4 reasons how goal setting can help you do just that!

Reason #1: Goals direct attention towards the important elements of poker, which can help you maintain focus and concentration more effectively on what it is you need to be doing.

For example, let’s say that you set a specific goal to improve your play from the big blind. Your focus will naturally be heightened for the particular skills that you need to improve, such as learning what your calling ranges should be from the big blind. In game then, you will be more focused when it’s your BB on assessing and playing your new and improved ranges. You may also find yourself paying a lot more attention to how your opponents are playing their BBs.

As a side note, Dr. Robert Weinberg's research with athletes has confirmed that the primary reason that they set goals is to provide both direction and focus to their actions both during practice as well as in competition.

The human brain was designed to be extremely teleological (or goal seeking). So give it something to work towards, and your focus and concentration will naturally improve!

Reason #2 & #3: The second reason that goal-setting works is because goals mobilize our efforts by increasing our motivation. A third and related reason is that goals prolong our persistence.

Let me explain how this can work. Let’s keep with improving big blind play as our example. Suppose you’ve outlined a study process for improvement, that you believe will require 25 hours of active study time. Such a big project might lead to overwhelm and procrastination. You might not want to work on studying your big blind play on any given day and may even find it difficult to muster the enthusiasm to do so.

However, if you divide the necessary amount of study time into short daily chunks and use that as a daily goal, you will have tasks that seem more reasonable.  So, you’ll be less likely to procrastinate. I think most people find 20 minute study sessions infinitely more doable than 2 hour ones!

Similarly, let's say you have a goal to lose 50 pounds, but it seems like an insurmountable goal. By dividing your goal into subgoals of losing only 1-2 pounds per week, you’re much more likely to stay motivated and stick with your program. It is easy to track your efforts and to see progress, when you go really small in your efforts. The overall goal is large, but breaking it down is more manageable.

Reason #4: The 4th reason goal setting works is due to the fact that setting goals often fosters the development of new learning strategies.

This is an advantage that is not often talked about, but if you think about it, goal setting encourages us to learn new strategies.

Let’s go back to our big blind example. You are going to have to come up with new strategies, in order to improve your big blind play. This might lead you to read some articles, watch some videos, or perhaps even get coaching. By doing so, you’re going to be in possession of a variety of new strategies that can help you play your big blind better.

Interestingly, there have been studies that show athletes who are high in goal-setting ability demonstrate less anxiety, higher confidence, as well as, improved performance in their competitions.

Having goals appears to influence performance indirectly through effects on various psychological states. While this type of research has not been done with poker players, I don't think it's too much of a stretch to believe that goal setting might work in a similar fashion for our benefit.

So there you have 4 really solid reasons to add goal setting to your mindset training agenda.

3 Steps to Awesome!

Have you ever noticed how when you set a goal it’s super easy to work on it for a few days or even weeks, but then you stop making progress? Ever wonder why that is? It’s because most people don’t realize that goal setting is not just a one-time thing - rather it's an ongoing process.

The first step is determining your vision. You need to identify exactly what you want to do along with why you want to do it. This is where most people stop.

But you’re really only getting started! Next up, take that goal and break it down into a series of small steps. The smaller, the better. It's easy to get overwhelmed when facing a challenging journey. By breaking your task into small chunks, you significantly decrease overwhelm and it seems much more doable.

Finally, you should take action every single day. Research shows that making small bits of progress regularly is highly motivating because it gives us momentum. You don’t have to do it all right now! Goal achievement typically comes at the end of a long and winding road.

So as you can see, the three steps work together. You simply must start the process with a clear vision. If you know your why, it’s much easier to find your way. Plus, if you don’t have a strong why, you’ll quit when the going gets tough.

So here is your assignment. Write a goal that you really want to achieve along with all the reasons why achieving this goal would be awesome. Then write every baby-step needed to make your dream a reality. Choose your daily action from this list and you’ll achieve your goal before you know it!

How Not to Use Visualization

You’ve probably heard that visualizing can help you have better results at the poker table (or in any high pressure setting for that matter). The truth is that visualization can be very effective if used properly, but most people use it incorrectly.

 

We have the mistaken notion that we should imagine ourselves playing at our best while exhibiting a calm, cool, and confident demeanor. This is all well and good except for one thing. We humans are not very good at controlling our emotions, and in a high-pressure situation, it is highly unlikely that you will remain 100% calm and confident. You might experience anxiety, frustration, and exhilaration all in a short window of time.

 

That’s because emotions are much like the weather. They are ever changing and often occur unconsciously. For this reason, they are almost entirely out of our control. The only thing we can actually control is how we act and react. That is, we get to choose our behaviors, but our emotions - not so much!

 

Before you sit down to visualize, I recommend taking the time to write out how you would like the event to go. What are you committed to achieving? Getting clear on your most valued goals and actions will pay dividends over time.

 

Next, think about the possible obstacles and challenges that you are likely to face. You can write these down, too. Writing tends to increase engagement and commitment, so that’s a bonus!

 

During your visualization session (which I recommend you do for a few minutes each day), imagine yourself playing at your best no matter what feelings crop up. See yourself clearly dealing with any obstacles and challenges that get thrown at you. Visualize yourself staying committed to your goals regardless of how you feel. You do not have to feel great to play great.

 

So that’s it for the visualization instructions! Take the time to think about how you want to behave during your next playing session and fully imagine yourself playing well despite what feelings come over you. Equanimity is the real secret to tilt-free poker and visualization can help you get there.

The "Secret" Formula for Poker Success

After having conducted 55 interviews of The Mindset Advantage Podcast I’ve learned something about what it takes to be a successful poker player. As it turns out, there are a couple of important drivers of success that are relatively easy to implement. Ironically, most of us know what these are, but we don’t prioritize them as important.

 

The first thing you need to accept is that every field has certain fundamentals or key disciplines that need to be practiced daily. Things like regular study, exercise, meditation, and eating well come to mind. Take a couple of minutes and think about your own fundamentals. What are your key disciplines that if you did them consistently would lead you to success?

 

Typically our fundamentals are easy to implement, but they are also easy to skip over. The best poker players have identified their fundamentals and they do them consistently. Successful poker players make a habit of doing the things that less successful players don’t like to do.

 

If you want to be extraordinary, look at the things that you know you should be doing but avoid because you just don’t feel like doing them.

 

For example, maybe you know that exercising regularly would build your stamina and allow you to play longer sessions, but you’ve yet to make exercise a non-negotiable habit.

 

Perhaps you know that clearing your head before a playing session is optimal for you, but you don’t like to meditate.

 

Whatever your fundamentals are, start doing them immediately. Most of us subscribe to the myth that we need to be motivated to get started. The truth is motivation follows behavior. Once you get going, you'll probably get motivated to keep going! Don’t let your feelings drive your behavior. Decide what you want and commit to doing the key disciplines that will get you there.


The secret to success is really not a secret. It’s just a matter of identifying your key disciplines and then making a habit out of doing them each day - even if it’s only for a few minutes. Just like compound interest, small actions taken consistently over a long period of time exert a compound effect. That is, they add up and can make all of the difference!

How to Learn More Quickly and Efficiently Using the Quiz and Recall Method

Before I share the #1 tip that will help you learn more efficiently and effectively, I want to tell you what psychological research has shown to be the #1 threat to learning.

 

This threat is called the fluency illusion. When I was in college, me and most of my friends studied in this fashion: we would read the book with a highlighter, take some notes, and then re-read them over and over again - usually the day before the exam! Ha! Anyone else study like that!?

 

The reason studying like this is a problem is that we fool ourselves into thinking we really know the material. The material feels familiar, so we think we have learned it on a deeper level than we actually have. When we get into a situation where we need to recall the information, however, we are not able to. Scientists call this the fluency illusion.

 

The fluency illusion is a trap! If you really want to learn a topic well, you need to find a different method. Luckily for us, scientists have studied this issue at length and there is a solution.

 

The solution is known as the Quiz and Recall Method. To really master something, you should shut the book (or turn off the video) and see if you can recall from memory the most important ideas.

 

The next time you are learning something, challenge yourself to see if you can explain the information or ideas in your own words.

 

Another way to do this is to explain it to someone else. Being able to teach a concept clearly and concisely is a great test of how deeply you understand the concept.

 

If you can recall the information you’ve been learning about with ease, that’s awesome! If not, you know that you have some more studying to do. This makes for an efficient study process because you don’t need to waste your time going back over material you’ve already learned.


To sum this up, the number one strategy for learning quickly and efficiently is to forget re-reading your materials over and over again. Instead, go for the quiz and recall method!