Updated: Apr 3
Setting and achieving goals that inspire and motivate us will increase our happiness. It's scientifically proven.
Research has consistently shown that setting and pursuing goals gives us purpose and direction. They help us move forward in life, enjoy new experiences, contribute to a greater sense of fulfillment, and boost our confidence.
While most of us have set and achieved many goals in our lives, the process isn't always something we enjoy or look forward to. But what if you could super-power your goals to add more happiness to the process and our lives?
Here are three proven ways to do just that.
Set love-driven goals that inspire and motivate you
A surefire way to experience greater happiness is to set love-driven goals that inspire and motivate you. Love-driven goals can be inspiring and motivating and they can also not be inspiring and motivating, so it's important to make the distinction.
One way to do that is to create a simple checklist to ask yourself:
Is my goal:
A love-driven goal is driven by something you love, the love you have for others, a passion, love for yourself, or love for your community.
Does it inspire you, lift your spirit, fill your heart, nurture your mind?
Does it motivate you to take action, get moving, get creative, or grow?
To pursue a goal you don't need all three but know that if you do have all three checked off, the goal will contribute to a greater sense of happiness and fulfillment.
If you have not checked off all three, how can you add that element to your goal? How can you add more love, more inspiration, more motivation, and more fun?
2. Celebrate along the way
Now that we have amazing, love-driven goals that we are inspired and motivated by, we can set benchmarks and celebrate each subgoal we achieve.
The act of achieving our benchmarks or subgoals--even without celebrating them--triggers positive emotions. According to Timothy A. Pychyl, Ph.D., in his Don't Delay column in Psychology Today, "positive emotions have the potential to motivate goal-directed behaviors and volitional processes (e.g., self-regulation to stay on task) that are necessary for further goal progress or attainment."
"Progress on our goals makes us feel happier and more satisfied with life (our subjective well-being, SWB, increases)," he notes, adding that when we see the progress we are making, we "prime the pump" resulting in increases in our subjective well-being which prompts further action and progress.
While the positive emotions we get from achieving our benchmarks make us feel good and contribute to our overall happiness, why not add more joy to the process? We can do this by having a mini-celebration each time we achieve a subgoal or benchmark on the way to our big goal.
For example, if your objective is to buy a new home, you can set the following benchmarks:
🔲 Save 10% of the purchase price for a downpayment
🔲 Save 20% of the purchase price for a downpayment
🔲 Select the neighborhood we want to live in
🔲 Get pre-qualified for the loan
🔲 Find the home we want
🔲 Make an offer that gets accepted
🔲 Close the deal
Each time you achieve one of these benchmarks or subgoals, enjoy a mini-celebration. We want these to be smaller in scale than what you will do once you achieve your overall objective, but you want them to be fun and rewarding for yourself and those on the journey with you. For example:
You could go out for pizza when you achieve 10% of the purchase price, or even better, make pizza at home with family and/or friends with some fun music playing!
When you successfully get pre-qualified for the loan, you could do a happy dance with your family and make cupcakes or cookies.
When you make an offer on the house that gets accepted you could drive to the beach, go to the pool, go ice-skating, or build snow/sand people while singing goofy songs or enjoying some good ol' jazz standards.
Each benchmark we achieve along the way helps build our confidence in the direction we're going and enhances our sense of fulfillment. By celebrating these benchmarks, we are injecting fun, joy, social engagement, love, and inspiration into our journey all while increasing our overall level of happiness.
As you go along, imagine yourself achieving your end goal and how you'll feel. More importantly, as you go along and work toward each subgoal, indulge in the happy feelings of achieving each benchmark.
To help you with this process, download my free gift to you of my Love-Drive Goals Worksheet where you can write-down your goals, each subgoal, why you want to achieve this love-driven goal, and the planned celebrations along the way! 😃 You can download them to print or upload them into your GoodNotes. In addition, I invite you to sign up to receive our free Smiling Meditation intro workshop! It will guide you through a happyness-charged visualization meditation!
This may seem like a bit much for some of you but, research has also demonstrated that immediate rewards predict adherence to long-term goals.
"Overall, whereas delayed rewards may motivate goal setting and the intentions to pursue long-term goals, a meta-analysis of our studies finds that immediate rewards are more strongly associated with actual persistence in a long-term goal." --Chicago Booth Professor Ayelet Fishbach, University of Chicago Booth School of Business, “Immediate Rewards Predict Adherence to Long-Term Goals."
3. Set goals that stretch your limits and push you to grow
According to Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, a psychologist, distinguished professor, author, and researcher who identified and named the concept of flow in his book, Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Performance, “The best moments in our lives are not the passive, receptive, relaxing times . . . The best moments usually occur if a person’s body or mind is stretched to its limits in a voluntary effort to accomplish something difficult and worthwhile.”
“The best moments in our lives are not the passive, receptive, relaxing times . . . The best moments usually occur if a person’s body or mind is stretched to its limits in a voluntary effort to accomplish something difficult and worthwhile.”--Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi
Whether we achieve our goal or not, by reaching beyond our perceived limits we will grow, increase our happiness baseline, and create new opportunities for greater happiness.
This is why to "Grow" is Happiness Habit # 6 in our Happiness Framework. When we grow, we are giving ourselves the opportunity to expand our minds and spirits, have new experiences, make new connections, and simply squeeze more out of life. That--in and of itself--will bring us greater joy and increase our happiness.
Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Performance by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi