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Goal Hack from World Record Performers

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| “You can generate tremendous momentum and reach your goals faster than you ever thought possible.”

How can you achieve your goals? Especially the big ones, like your college application essays, research or a big personal project? Actually, many of the strategies that some of the world’s greatest performers use are accessible and relevant to us as well. These are powerful goal accomplishment hacks that are backed by neuroscience and social psychology.


  • One specific tool you can use to achieve your goals
  • How some of the greatest athletes in US history achieve their goals
  • How to reach your finish line faster while exerting less energy
  • What Narrow Focus is and why it’s crucial for your success
  • How the Ivy League Challenge can help you achieve your goals

     And so much more.


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Welcome to the Ivy League Prep Academy podcast, where we help you make a meaningful impact in your communities and get accepted to your dream university. Becoming the person that Ivy League schools recruit is more enjoyable and meaningful than you ever imagined. Come find out why.

Welcome back, everyone. To Day. We're going to discuss how you can achieve your goals.

Maybe it's your college essays or the term project or research paper that's making your life miserable. But whatever it is for you today, I'm excited to share some goal accomplishment hacks that are backed up by neuroscience and social psychology. By the end of this podcast, you'll have at least one specific tool you can use to achieve your goals and the scientific understanding you need to use it.

So we begin with Luke Aikens, who, in July of 2016, jumped out of an airplane flying at 25,000ft without a parachute. Jumpers are away. Jumpers are away.

They're off. At 18,000ft, the oxygen mask will come off. Okay, so he is so high up that he needs an oxygen mask for the first 7000ft of this jump.

It's important to know that this is not his first jump. Okay? Aikens worked on stunts for Iron Man movies. He had made thousands of jumps over 18,000.

According to Wikipedia, he was a pilot, a base jumper, a skydive instructor, an advisor for the US. Parachute association. And he trained us.

Navy Seals. So this is not the first time that he had jumped out of an airplane, but this was the first time he had ever jumped out of a plane without a parachute. Momentarily, we'll see his jump team pull their shoots, and that means Luke is all alone for the rest of the way.

Now, at that height, Luke Aikens can see mountain ranges, but not trees or houses or the net that would catch him at the bottom and allow him to live. So he used a GPS unit in his helmet to make sure he was moving in the right direction. And then, once he could see the lighting for his net, he narrowed his focus and blocked off everything else.

With no parachute, no wingsuit, no Iron Man suit, nothing, that net was his only chance for survival. There goes the shoots. Luke is on his own, and the crowd on the ground looking up, they have a visual on him right now.

As an elite bass jumper with over 18,000 dives of experience, luke used his unwavering focus to survive this jump from the troposphere down to Earth without a parachute. Now, perhaps less dramatic, but in my mind, no less inspiring, is the way the greatest female distance runner in American history used focus to win her races and set world records. And Joni, who's overcome many difficulties and is probably one of America's very best athletes of all time, is really deserving of this.

545 for the last mile. No doubt that it's painful now, but as all those joggers note the goal is now within sight, so the pain is secondary. She is just concentrating on rhythm, rhythm, keeping it smooth.

Joan Benoit Samuelson was the first gold medal winner of the first Olympic women's marathon in 1984. She has won dozens of races since then and set world records. When you ask her how she does it, she talks about finding a target, setting her mind to it, and overtaking that target.

Once that target has been overtaken, she sets her mind on a new one. So as she's running, maybe she sees some pink shorts way up ahead, and she decides to fixate on those pink shorts. And she focuses on them, blinding out everything else until she's reached it and passed them.

And as soon as she's past the person wearing the pink shorts, she sets her mind on a new target and continues moving forward and listen to the crowd as she emerges. And and when you ask her about how she was able to set world records and win so many marathons and just be an outstanding world class athlete for so long. Joan talks about training, of course, but also this one strategy, this one hack that allows her to focus better than other people and allows her mind to support her body in moving forward.

Now, Luke Aikens and Joan Bonoy are special people who obviously trained for years to become the best at what they do. But it turns out that their strategy is not only useful for elite athletes, you and I can also benefit from this effort around focus in surprising ways. Emily Balcheris is a social psychologist who teaches at New York University.

Her research focuses on people's perception of the world and how their motivation, their goals, and emotions influence it. She recently published a book entitled Clearer, Closer, Better how Successful People See the World. In this book, she emphasizes that her research shows that adopting this strategy, the strategy of only focusing on one thing and ignoring everything else, leads average people like you and me to move faster towards our goals and to get there with less stress, feeling less tired.

She calls this narrow focus. And, of course, we discuss this in great detail in Pillar, one of the Ivy League Challenge set yourself up for success. In this pillar, we help students align the body and mind to support your higher ambitions.

But simply put, here's what you do if you're in a race. Look ahead to something in the distance, something that catches your eye, a building, a stop sign, someone's pink shorts. It doesn't matter what, but create a spotlight in your mind and shine that spotlight at the distant target.

Then focus all of your attention on that, excluding everything else. In fact, develop blinders for yourself. Imagine that you have put blinders on.

Now, according to Balchettis, it will take you about 17% less exertion in other words, 17% less energy to walk or run that distance. And when ankle weights were applied to participants and they ran this distance, not only did they report less physical exertion to finish their goal, they felt like the finish line was actually closer. She goes into a lot of detail in her book, but she says the narrowed focus of attention produced a feeling of proximity.

And that illusion of proximity actually motivated these people to walk 23% faster, and they didn't hurt as much. So when your project or essay has become a burden, a task that you find hard to motivate yourself to do, use narrow focus. If the net is the only thing that will keep you alive, focus on it with blinders until you have safely landed.

Developing this skill, by the way, while you're still in high school, will be helpful later in life when you want to earn a promotion or start a business or solve a problem in your community. So for you, that net might be sending off the best possible college application. But getting there will require focusing on the next important task until it is accomplished, and then moving on to the next and the next.

And if you need to finish your individual assessment in math, set aside and block out time for it. Then put the spotlight of your focus on that task and blinders for any distractions. Use positive selftalk and healthy habits like water, like stretching, et cetera.

All the things we talk about in pillar one of the Ivy League challenge. And then go focus on your math individual assessment until it's done. You can build incredible momentum this way and do outstanding work.

When you achieve your stretch goals, celebrate with a victory lap. She's just run 26 miles. 385 yards.

He's going to run it the 400 meters. You got this. And now I encourage you to go out and use this strategy to focus your energy, focus your mind, so you can make a greater impact within your sphere of influence.

I'm proud of you and I believe in you. Go make your impact.