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Study Finds People With Ambitious Goals Are Happier And More Satisfied

Study Finds People With Ambitious Goals Are Happier And More Satisfied

We often believe we would be happier if we are grateful enough. This might mean not pushing yourself too hard and accept what you have already/what you do not have now. That’s why sometimes ambitious people are thought to be less happy, as they are busy working on their goals. However, a study has proven the opposite. Here’s why.

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 results: The people who set ambitious goals were happier in the “long run”.

Turns out when you set an ambitious goal versus a conservative goal you end up feeling happier. After all, ambition is defined as: A strong desire to do or to achieve something; typically requiring determination and hard work.

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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, you end up getting astonishing results.

In this study conducted at the University of California-Riverside people often set goals with two 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 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 which in turn will only get you conservative results? Ambitious goals provide great results when achieved.

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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.

Goals For Personal Growth Are The Key

Let’s first define an intrinsic goal: A goal that relates to personal growth, something that is “good for the soul”. An extrinsic goal is a goal that relates to “worldly goals” or anything that has to do with money or social status.

A study conducted in 2003 at the University of Rochester requested 147 college graduates share their life aspirations and the end result. The students who set intrinsic goals, set goals such as working on personal relationships and expanding personal growth.  Whereas the students who set extrinsic goals, set goals such as fame, earning a certain dollar figure and appearance.

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The result: 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.

The Relationship Between Goals And Happiness

The findings can actually be explained by a psychological theory, the “Self-Determination Theory”, which states the three things in order for people to be happy:

  1. Autonomy: The sense of being in control of their behavior and goals
  2. Competence: Having mastery over tasks and skills
  3. Relatedness: Having a sense of belonging and connectedness to others.

Turns out, extrinsic goals (money and fame) do not meet these three criteria. Whereas intrinsic goals (goals good for the soul) nourish these psychological needs to be happy.

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When you set a goal 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?

Conclusion

When you choose to set a goal, be mindful if you’re setting a conservative or an ambitious goal. 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 chose a goal that is ambitious and most likely provide happiness, achieving your goal will be worthwhile.

Helpful Guide

Having a goal without good strategies cannot help you achieve what you want. However, with Lifehack Goal Setting System, you can efficiently attain the best result of your desire. For every goal you add, you will receive practical and useful articles that guide you through the process and achieve remarkable outcomes.

To start with, you can try these health goals:

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Tara Massan

Founder of Be Moved, Life Coach and Writer.

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Last Updated on July 18, 2019

How To Be Happy Alone and Enjoy Life

How To Be Happy Alone and Enjoy Life

Loneliness is a feeling I know very well. I live in an apartment with no one but my dog, and I don’t get a whole lot of company because most of my friends have moved to another town, got married and had a family, or simply lost touch due to life happening.

As someone who considers himself a loner, I loved the peace and quiet at first; but I found myself feeling very lonely within a few months. My space went from clean to chaos, my productivity crashed and burned, my thoughts took a turn for the worse, and I couldn’t find much interest in anything more than watching movies on Netflix.

After living a few months in a haze of sloth, I realized I had a serious problem and decided to learn how to be happy alone and enjoy my life. This article tackles 6 key things I learned along the way.

1. Take Care of Your Home

When you’re not around other people, it is easy to lose interest in tidying up your home. You might find yourself with a sky high pile of dishes and mountains of clutter everywhere you turn if you’re not careful. Even if you don’t have a roommate or company that frequently walks in your door, it is in your best interest to clean house at least once per week.

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If your home is a disorganized wreck, expect to feel stressed out as soon as you walk in the door. A clean home free from clutter will help you feel happy and organized.

2. Find Beauty in the Ordinary

If you don’t see beauty in your world, you’re not looking hard enough.

If you’re home alone and feeling down, walk outside and spend some time with nature. Watch the birds fly and admire their elaborate flight formation. Listen to dogs barking at each other in the neighborhood and think to yourself, “I wonder what they could possibly be talking about?”

Look at that big, old tree that is the size of a giant (and if you’re feeling limber, why not try to climb it?). Plant some flowers, a vegetable garden, or a small tree in your back yard.

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Go to the park, walk on a nature trail, clear your thoughts, listen to the sounds of the forest, and be in awe of the beauty that’s right in front of you.

3. Watch Out for Noisy Thoughts

Your thoughts can be your best friend and worst enemy. Have you ever noticed that if you find yourself thinking even a single negative thought, it inevitably spirals out of control until you have a nasty chorus of Mental Monsters taking over your brain?

If you find yourself thinking, “I feel so lonely right now,” it’s easy to keep that thought process going in the wrong direction until thoughts like, “I will always be alone,” or “no one will ever love me,” creep up on you.

Be aware of what you’re thinking about and stop your negative thoughts before they grow into Mental Monsters that are much harder to control.

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If you find yourself stressing out, do something that relaxes you. Light some candles or incense, take a nice hot bubble bath, perform some gentle yoga poses, or play soothing music.

4. Reduce Mindless Consumption

Being aware of world events is totally okay, but becoming addicted to the news is a sure-fire way to sink your mood.

Limit your news consumption to a small handful of articles per day because there is no reason to bury yourself in depressing news stories for hours on end.

Watching television is fine in moderation, but spending all of your free hours in front of the tube will do nothing to help you grow or feel better.

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Read a classic novel you adored in high school, go to a local community theater to enjoy a racy comedy or Shakespearean tragedy, and exercise at least every other day to keep your mind and body at the top of their game.

5. Create Something of Value

The best way to feel happy alone is to spend your time creating something that brings you joy. You could write a novel or self-help book and self-publish it on Amazon, start a blog about a topic that fascinates you, go the the park and paint a landscape to hang on your wall, or learn a new language, like German or Spanish.

Sometimes, it is hard to motivate ourselves to get to work creating at home; so if you’re feeling a lack of inspiration, pack up your notebook and laptop for a field-trip to a park, coffee shop, or downtown bench. A simple change of scenery can do wonders for your productivity.

6. Treat Yourself to a Hot Date

Who says you can’t go to a movie or eat out by yourself? I love treating myself to hot dates because I can choose to go wherever I desire without considering anyone else’s opinion.

Going out by yourself will help you become comfortable with being alone.

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Featured photo credit: Caleb Frith via unsplash.com

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