We often believe we would be happier if we were more grateful. This might mean not pushing yourself too hard and accepting what you already have in your life. This can lead us to assume that ambitious people are less happy, as they’re always busy working on their ambitious goals instead of living in the present.
However, a study has proven the opposite.
Ambitious Goals Vs Conservative Goals
A study conducted at the University of California-Riverside compared people who set ambitious goals to those who set more conservative goals. The researchers discovered that people who set ambitious goals experienced greater satisfaction overall, despite having similar outcomes to those who set conservative goals.
It seems out when you set ambitious goals versus conservative goals, you end up feeling that you have achieved more against the odds.
Often, when we set a goal, we expect a specific result. If we set a conservative goal, we get conservative results. The opposite is true when you set an ambitious goal, as you end up getting astonishing results in the short term or long term.
In this study conducted at the University of California-Riverside, researchers pointed out that people often set goals with two main reasons in mind: expectancy and value. The expectancy portion of the goal is how likely the person will be successful at achieving their goal. The value portion relates to how good it will feel when you reach your goal.
When you set a goal, be mindful of also setting aside limiting beliefs. Goals are set to achieve something bigger than what you are currently doing. So, why set a conservative goal that will only get you conservative results? Ambitious goals provide great results when achieved.
The tricky thing about goals is knowing whether or not the goal is for personal growth or if it is a “worldly goal”. Besides ambitious goals, setting goals full of intrinsic value are great for your overall happiness. So, step out of your comfort zone when you create long-term goals, and you’ll find that your personal growth increases dramatically.
Goals for Personal Growth Are Key
Intrinsic goals are particularly important when it comes to setting ambitious goals. An intrinsic goal is one that relates to personal growth, something that is “good for the soul.” On the other hand, an extrinsic goal is a goal that relates to “worldly goals” or anything that has to do with money or social status.
A 2009 study at the University of Rochester requested 147 college graduates share their life aspirations and the end result.
The students who set intrinsic goals focused on goals such as working on personal relationships and expanding personal growth. The students who set extrinsic goals focused on fame, earning a certain dollar figure, and appearance.
In the end, the students who set intrinsic goals versus extrinsic goals experienced a higher level of happiness. Those who set extrinsic goals reported no improvement in their well-being, even after achieving their goal.
Intrinsic goals can keep you motivated and help you avoid procrastination. If you find that you slip into this habit, this Lifehack Fast-Track Class can help: No More Procrastination.
The Relationship Between Goals and Happiness
The findings related to ambitious goals can actually be explained by a psychological theory, the Self-Determination Theory, which states that there are three things people need in order to be happy in the long run:
- Autonomy: The sense of being in control of their behavior and goals
- Competence: Having mastery over tasks and skills
- Relatedness: Having a sense of belonging and connectedness to others
It turns out that extrinsic goals do not meet these three criteria, while intrinsic goals nourish these psychological needs to be happy.
When you set ambitious goals, ask yourself: How will this goal provide me with a sense of being in control of my behavior? How will this goal allow me to attain a specific mastery of a skill? Will this goal afford me the opportunity to connect with others?
When you choose to set a goal, be mindful of whether you’re setting conservative or ambitious goals. If you want big results, set an ambitious goal. If you want to feel happier when you achieve your goal, set a goal that is an intrinsic goal that satisfies our autonomy, competence, and relatedness.
Goals can be a scary thing to set and then to declare, but when you choose a goal that is ambitious and likely to provide happiness, dreaming big and achieving your goal will be worthwhile.
More Tips on Setting Ambitious Goals
- 3 Essential Steps To Set And Achieve Big Goals
- How To Celebrate Small Wins To Achieve Big Goals
- How to Set Ambitious Career Goals (With Examples)
Featured photo credit: Squarespace via unsplash.com
|||^||Science Daily: Ambitious goals equals satisfaction|
|||^||Journal of Research in Personality: The path taken: Consequences of attaining intrinsic and extrinsic aspirations in post-college life|
|||^||Contemporary Educational Psychology: Intrinsic and extrinsic motivation from a self-determination theory perspective: Definitions, theory, practices, and future directions|
|||^||Autism in Context: Autism and self-determination: the path towards successful citizenship|