Striving Toward Goals = Happiness
Life changed her plans
Writer Erin Zammett Ruddy faced an uncertain future, at age 23, when she was diagnosed with cancer. She states in her piece, Do You Need A Five-Year Plan?, Self magazine, For all my planning, suddenly I didnt know if Id be alive in five years. The good news is, Ms. Ruddy survived her ordeal, and through it all she reevaluated her life plans, I realized that some of the things I thought were most important to me didnt quite make the cut anymore.
Is its time to reevaluate your plans?
Goals Make Us Happy
The happiest people have clear-cut goals, one 15 year study found of 3,500 people by Melbourne University. In the study, people had both short-term and long-term goals, in diverse areas, including friendships, volunteer work and their love life.
If you dont devise a plan, you may end up living by defaultletting things happen to you, instead of making them happen, states author of Creating Your Best Life, Caroline Adams Miller. Sonja Lyubomirsky, Ph.D. and author of The How of Happiness says, To become happier in a lasting way, you need to keep working toward meaningful goals. Ms. Ruddy points out in her article, Notice she (Ms. Lyubomirsky) says work toward them rather than achieve them. In other words, we dont have to set a list of goals and expect to achieve every one of them. Rather, its about the job of striving, and Ms. Ruddy goes on to say that, Dreaming up new challenges keeps giving us hits of happiness.
We tend to become set in our ways, comfy in our little daily routines, and yet we feel more alive when an interesting challenge walks into our lives. These challenges help us to look beyond the normcareer, more moneyto meaningful, almost tangible positive changes we can make towards a better existence. Sounds good, but where do you start?
Write Your Way to Happiness
A University of Missouri in Columbia study suggests by simply writing down a few dreams, you can feel significantly happier and healthier in a few months.Writing down an intention puts a nugget in your subconscious, which sets you on a path to achieving it, reports Kennon Sheldon, Ph.D., professor of psychology at the university.
Some studies suggest that once we make solid goals, we then begin to seek out ways to achieve them. The best goals will usually extract us from our cozy comfort zones, according to the Leadership IQ, a think tank in Washington, D.C. And when we achieve those goalsor at least strive toit feels great when we eventually succeed.
Here are helpful tips from Do You Need A Five-Year Plan?:
- Remembering past accomplishments can help you feel more competent and confident, traits that can predict if youll lead a contented life.
- Set a timer for 10 minutes, then list everything you want to accomplish in your lifetimedont hold backlist even the craziest things! Focus on: if there is unfinished business to complete, classes or skills you want to acquire, or ways you want to give back to others.
- Reflect on your list and ask yourself if youre exactly where you are today, 5 years from now, which of the goals on your list would you have regretted not pursuing? The answer will help you edit your long list to the most meaningful goals.
- Try to figure out why certain goals are important to you. Make sure its something you want, not what others want for you.
Now, Make it Work!
Approach goals in a positive way, not establishing avoidant goals such as, I should stop eating cake so I wont get fat. Those types of goals will leave you with a sense of dread, not hopeful anticipation. Instead, rephrase that goal: I am going to start eating healthier.
And remember, there are times when some goals just arent attainable, or need to be revised in some waythats ok. Dont set completely unattainable goals eitherthose can wreck havoc on your personal health. For example, if youre deathly afraid of heights, you wont be putting on your list you want to climb Mt. Everest!
Go out and strive towards your goals!
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