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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 April 8, 2020

11 Things Overachievers Do Differently

11 Things Overachievers Do Differently

We all know some overachievers: supermoms who manage to get online degrees between cleaning, cooking, and taking kids to practice; students who write 10-page papers when the directions call for 4; managers whose resumes look more like pages from the Guinness book of Records.

How do they do it all? How is it possible that one person can graduate at the top of their class, found an orphanage in India, run 30k marathons, write a best-selling book, travel all over the world and learn to speak Mandarin Chinese while having a full-time job?

What’s the secret of an overachiever? Here’re 11 things overachievers do differently that you can learn from.

1. They Know How to Manage Their Time

It’s pretty simple actually – you can never become an overachiever if you don’t know how to organize your time efficiently.

The great thing is that overachievers are ready to share their knowledge and time management talent with the rest of the world. Read The 4-Hour Workweek or The 4-Hour Body by Timothy Ferriss, and you’ll know what I’m talking about.

2. They Don’t Spend Hours Watching TV or Playing Computer Games

Mostly because they have better things to do, like exercising, reading, spending an evening with their family or volunteering to work in the local soup kitchen. Their philosophy is simple – the world is full of wonderful things to try, explore and experience. Watching TV is not one of them.

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3. They Are Obsessed With Perfection

Imagine Steve Jobs’ work approach and you’ll understand the level of perfection and painfully high standards that overachievers set for themselves and those around them. Often it pays off (especially if they focus on just one domain). But sometimes compulsive over-striving turns into a sure-fire road to disappointments and unfinished tasks.

Learn how to strike a balance: How Not to Let Perfectionism Secretly Screw You Up

4. They Know How To Inspire

Overachievers learn quickly that it is much easier to achieve goals through collaboration (and especially delegation). So they know how to inspire, encourage, persuade and motivate people around them. Even though they often drive their team crazy with their stubbornness and perfectionism, people quickly follow under the spell of their enthusiasm and greater vision.

Learn these 10 Powerful Ways to Influence People Positively.

5. They Set Clear Goals

The term “overachiever” itself implies that they know how to achieve goals. That is kind of hard to do if your goals are vague, unclear and lack specific deadline, which is why overachievers educate themselves, read goal-setting books, and think about the best way to approach a new task.

Although, it’s worth mentioning that overachievers usually use their time management and goal-setting skills towards competitive, “I want to kick butt” type of goals rather than self-improvement, mastery goals.

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Take a look at these tips to help you set clearer goals: What Are SMART Goals (And How to Use Them to Become Successful)

6. They Are Organized

It’s hard to imagine a disorganized overachiever, isn’t it? Their great organizational and planning skills usually serve three main purposes: keeping track of time, keeping track of progress and keeping track of achievements.

This hasn’t been confirmed by scientific research yet, but overachievers might actually get a “runner’s high” from crossing tasks off their to-do lists, and making new to-do lists.

Here’s How to Organize Your Life: 10 Habits of Really Organized People

7. They Try to Avoid Failure at All Costs

Some psychologists believe that overachievers place their self-worth on their competence, driven by an underlying fear of failure. Rather than setting and striving for goals based on a pure desire to achieve, their core motivation becomes avoiding failure. This may explain the fact that overachiever beat themselves up for even little setbacks and seemingly-insignificant mistakes.

But be aware that having a strong fear of failure can wrek havoc your productivity. So the best thing to do? Learn to conquer the fear: Why You Have the Fear of Failure (And How to Conquer It)

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8. They Love Awards

Who doesn’t love them, right? True enough, but unlike most people who like to feel acknowledged and appreciated for their efforts, overachievers are bent on collecting ‘awards’, be it university degrees, spelling bee prizes or unusual destinations.

While loving awares isn’t bad, it’s even better if you’re driven by internal motivation instead of external ones which could be quite uncontrolable or unstable: Why Is Internal Motivation So Powerful (And How to Find It).

9. They Don’t Understand the Concept of Work Hours

Don’t get surprised if you receive a work-related email anywhere between 8 p.m. and midnight. It’s something overachievers usually do and you weren’t the only one. At least 20 more emails have been sent during these hours to other people. The concepts of over-achieving and working overtime usually go hand in hand.

The downside of this is an imbalnced life, which may need to problems in other aspects of life including health and relationships. A better way is to Achieve a Realistic Work Life Balance.

10. They Rest

Overachievers might often be labeled as “workaholics”, because they often ignore bodily signs of hunger, fatigue and even a full bladder, hoping to finish just one last little part. This doesn’t mean that overachievers don’t know how to disconnect and relax.

True that they tend to work in the highest gear, but they also have enough sense to give themselves time to rest and recharge. Of course, they do it in their own overachieving way, preferring climbing Mount Kilimanjaro or hiking through the Amazon jungle to lazing on the beach.

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11. Overachievers Continuously Educate Themselves

A great quality that most overachievers have is the hunger for knowledge. They surround themselves with bright people. They know how to listen, and most importantly, they get tons of mentoring.

Despite the fact that overachievers want to excel at everything they set their minds on, they are humble enough to admit that to get on top of their game, they need help. And they are willing to pay someone to push, coach and guide them.

You too can learn How to Create a Habit of Continuous Learning for a Better You.

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Featured photo credit: Nghia Le via unsplash.com

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