How many goals do you have? You may have a personal goal, health goals, educational goals, work goals, or even financial goals. You likely know that setting goals increases performance. It also increases your likelihood of success. But did you know that goals can also increase happiness?
Goals make us feel good
When we set a goal we are demonstrating faith in ourselves. We believe that we have the ability to reach the goal. This belief feels good. It is empowering.
In attaining our goal, we often have to overcome obstacles. This builds creativity, strength, and courage. As we persist, as we recommit ourselves to our goals, we build our resilience. Reaching our goal may feel great. Yet even without accomplishing our goal, we can experience positive emotions. Knowing how hard we worked can reinforce a positive sense of self.
Not all goals are equal
Research has shown that the type of goal we set is important. Some goals significantly increase our happiness. These are goals linked to personal growth, interpersonal connection, and contribution to a community. The more our goals bring us closer to other people, the better.
Many of us plan our goals using the SMART system (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Time-Bound). This is a good way to start. But there are other key factors in setting goals.
- The goal must feel personal, important, and interesting.
- You must set the goal; an outsider cannot impose it.
- The goal must be intrinsically motivated, not extrinsically. In other words, it is not based on impressing other people or fulfilling their needs. It is based on fulfilling or expressing a personal desire.
- The goal must be to reach, not prevent, something. For example, we can set a goal to get a good mark in school or to not fail. The goal of ‘getting a good mark’ will be more effective in contributing to our happiness.
- The goal helps us build effectiveness or mastery.
- The goal helps shape a sense of purpose.
These key factors increase the likelihood of the goal improving your life and making you feel good. They also influence the chances of you reaching your goal.
This week we will dig deeper into how to help our kids set goals. We will also look at research and best practices that set our kids up for reaching their goals.
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