Goal Setting for True Happiness

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If you’re most people, you set goals, and when you reach them, there’s this moment of bliss. But that moment fades quickly, and you’re left feeling exactly as you were before.

While everyone’s goals may be different, the reason reaching those goals doesn’t result in a long-lasting change to your happiness level is because the goals are designed to! They’re achievement-based: make a certain salary, reach a certain career level, own a beach house or a specific car, etc.

This year, try setting goals designed to increase your base level of happiness over the long term. Here’s how!

Set Goals That Require PERMA-nent Changes

Psychologist Martin Seligman came up with the PERMA theory. With it, he identifies five ways to nurture one’s well-being.

P – Positive emotions. When goals help, you experience emotions like excitement, satisfaction, awe, hope, wonder, joy, and optimism. To achieve this, set a goal to do or see something that excites you. Maybe it’s taking a trip to somewhere you’ve always wanted to go. Maybe it’s taking a class in something you’ve always been curious about. Whatever it is, it leaves you with long-lasting benefits.

E – Engagement. This is about being present and engaged in the moment, not engaging with others. Gardening would be one example of this. If that’s not your thing, find another activity that keeps you present with enough of a challenge for your liking. If you’re an adventurer, maybe rock climbing is more up your alley! It’s about finding an activity that floods your body with positive neurotransmitters while helping you find calm, focus, and joy. You’ll know you’ve found it because it feels like time passes quickly when you do it.

R – Relationships. Studies have shown that being social and maintaining positive relationships are critical for well-being. Think of ways you can nurture your existing relationships. If you’re stuck, share that with your friends and family so they can help you brainstorm!

A – Accomplishments. When you achieve a goal, take time to reflect on your success. What did you learn? What personal strengths did you use to get there? Taking this time helps “ground in” the blissful feelings.

It’s Not Just About The Destination

For many people, short-term sacrifices are made for long-term goals. While this can be okay, if it’s detrimental to your overall happiness, you may want to re-think it. For example, people often stay at jobs they hate because retirement is only a few years – or a few decades- away. Sure, retirement may be wonderful, but there are other jobs. Sacrificing your happiness now isn’t necessary. You need to enjoy the journey to your goal, not just focus on the goal.

Financial Benchmarks Are (Mostly) Meaningless

The data indicates that the correlation between money and happiness drops off after earning $75,000/year. Beyond that, there’s little joy in earning more. If you’re focusing on wealth or a certain earning level beyond that, try to determine what’s underneath them. It’s often a fear of lack or needing to belong. Those things won’t change no matter how much you make. Instead, address those underlying emotions. You’ll be happier and have all you need to feel financially secure.

Happiness can be yours today. It’s not a pot of gold waiting for you. 

More tips on how to reach big goals and find happiness.

Has this changed the goals you’ll set this year? Let us know in the comments!

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