The Power of Goals

As teachers, we so often do this with our own students and help them to set learning goals for themselves, but how often do we actually practise what we preach and work on setting our own goals? I can certainly say that I never really consciously set goals for myself until this year when I commenced my coaching studies and am currently working through some personal and professional goals with my own coach!

David Myers and Ed Diener, who are two supporters of the positive psychology movement (which if you know me, I am a huge supporter of and am super passionate about this area of work!), said that “Happiness grows less from the passive experience of desirable circumstances than from involvement in valued activities and progress toward one’s goals.” Does this quote not sum up how powerful goal setting is for us as human beings, if happiness is our ultimate goal and the ultimate currency that we should be measuring our lives on?

Goal setting is probably one of the most compassionate thing that we can do for ourselves. Goals are indispensable to a happy life – to be happy, we need to identify and pursue goals that are both pleasurable and meaningful.

We are so often taught that what we want in our lives is because of something that we’re lacking. How many of you have ever thought to yourself “If I’m not happy, then I should strive to get something to make myself happy.”? I sure have fallen into that trap, and has it done me much good? Not really… It’s so important that through the goal setting process, we allow ourselves to dream and set goals from a place of abundance, rather than a place of lack.

All our feelings come from our thoughts. There is no happiness that we’re going to find in the future that we don’t already have now. If happiness comes from our thinking, then achieving something or gaining a future goal at some future moment is not going to increase our capacity for happiness, and this you must understand. So the point of having goals is not so we can achieve them and be happier than we are today. The reason to have goals is because our purpose on this planet is for us to evolve into the best version of ourselves. And the way to do that is to constantly be asking ourselves to bloom in a bigger and better way and goals are the best way for us to do that.

So what really is the purpose of goals in our own lives? The proper role of goals is to liberate us, so that we can enjoy the present. Goals really give your brain a direction. They create a deliberate focus for your brain. The brain is like an unsupervised child. It will go on thinking thoughts that may be very detrimental, that may be hurting us, that may be causing us to go in a direction that we want to go. When we are focusing on a goal, something that we want, having our attention and our deliberate concentration on that tells the brain what to do. It provides the brain with structure and supervision.

More often than not, it’s not so much on attaining goals as it is on actually having the goals. It is the process of striving after goals – rather than goal attainment per se – that is crucial for happiness. The primary purpose of having a goal – a future purpose – is to enhance enjoyment of the present. Goals are means, not just ends. For sustained happiness we need to change the expectations that we have of our goals: rather than perceiving them as ends (expecting that the attainment of them will make us happy), we need to see them as means (recognising that they can enhance the pleasure we take in the journey). When goals facilitate the enjoyment of our present experience, they indirectly lead to an increase in our levels of well-being every step of the way, as opposed to a temporary spike that comes with the attainment of a goal. A goal enables us to experience a sense of being while doing. We are human beings after all, not human doings!

So, to end this post up today, I just have a couple of questions for you to reflect on:

  • Do you allow yourself to dream?
  • Do you think about the future?
  • Do you plan on what you want to create?

If something is stirring in you to set yourself a goal or a few goals to keep your focus for the remainder of this year and into next year (on any area of your life!), please do not hesitate to contact me, or even better still, book in a FREE 20-minute consult with me via this link. I am more than happy to be your cheerleader and your accountability buddy, and to support you through this goal setting process!

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