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Why Setting Intrinsic Goals Can Make You Happier

Why Setting Intrinsic Goals Can Make You Happier

Happiness is what we all strive for in life and our goals can help us get to the level of happiness we want. Going after goals and dreams is what makes life interesting, gives us a sense of achievement and allows us to grow into the person we ultimately want to be.

However, the types of goals we set have a huge influence on whether or not they allow us to become happier in ourselves. It comes down to two types of goals – extrinsic and intrinsic. Extrinsic goals relate to external influences such as money, fame, status or anything that requires validation from others. Intrinsic goals relate to yourself; your personal growth, health and relationships with yourself and others.

While we would all like to be rich and admired, having these as our sole motivators does nothing for our subjective well-being and happiness in the long-run unless it happens to be an added outcome to your intrinsic goal.

For example, an extrinsic goal would be someone going to university to get a degree so they can get a good job that pays a massive salary. An intrinsic goal would be someone going to university because they want to learn new things, to get a job they love and make a difference in the world. It’s important to realise your motivations for your goals and whether they are driven by outward influences or whether they come from a passion within.

If this has made you question what your true motivations are and you feel a little confused, then here are some ways to get down to the nitty gritty and find out what your true intentions are.

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Understand What Happiness Is

Many people are disillusioned by what happiness is, how to achieve it and how to make it last. Take money for example, many people believe that having more money will make them happy but this is a big myth. Yes, it may bring relief, more opportunities and happiness, but it soon wears off. As humans we tend to adapt to external things – they may bring us happiness but once we’re used to them we go back to normal and start wanting something more.

This is why external things can’t make us happy – happiness has to come from within. To be truly happy, you don’t need money, fame or status and you don’t need validation from other people. Anything that goes towards your personal development permeates you and changes your being, your thoughts and your mindset. This is why choosing goals that are centred around your growth and what truly makes your heart sing will create the fundamental basis for a happy life.

Ask Yourself The Why As Well As The What

When you go about setting your goals it’s important to really think about why. Deeply questioning yourself will bring up any hidden thoughts and beliefs that are taking you down the wrong motivational path.

Say, for example, you want to lose weight – why do you want to lose weight? Is it because you want people to accept you? Do you want to appear more attractive to others? Do you have a belief that people who weigh less than you get more opportunities or validation? Or is is because you want to feel healthier? You want to be able to run 10km? You feel it will make you a happier and more energetic person that will positively affect your life and those around you?

Finding out the source of motivation towards your goal by questioning the reasons behind them will give a clear indication of whether it’s an intrinsic or extrinsic goal.

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If you find that most of your reasons are extrinsically motivated then consider why that is and if you should really go ahead and strive for that goal. Re-think your priorities and put yourself and your personal growth first.

Recognise Your Limiting Beliefs

So you realise your goals may be a bit on the extrinsic side but you’re not sure how to move forward. Sometimes when we have goals that seek validation or are linked to anything external, it often comes from limiting beliefs that we have. Limiting beliefs are those pesky voices in our heads that tell us we’re not good enough, feelings of low self-esteem or a sense of needing to prove ourselves to others.

These all came from past experiences which we have somehow kept with us despite them being completely invalid in the here and now. The problem with these is that they can be the driving force behind major extrinsic goals. For example, you had a parent that never showed praise or love so you have a sense of need to always prove to people that you’re good enough – you have to keep going for that high-end job that pays the big bucks to show everyone that you can do it.

It’s these ingrained beliefs that need to be examined and shifted. Once you realise that what’s happened in the past is in the past and no longer holds water in the present moment, you can start to shift your perspective on those important opinions of yourself. You will then start to realise what you truly want without the limiting beliefs holding you back.

Ignore Opinions And Ideas That Don’t Align With Your Own

Another culprit of extrinsic goal-setting is our constant need to be accepted by society. So many of us live our lives in a way that fits in with the world around us. This can stop people from living the life they truly want and instead go after things that are safe, normal and inline with everybody else’s opinions.

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For example, perhaps your life goal was to settle down, get married and have children but not because that is what you truly want but because that’s what’s expected in society. Perhaps you went to university to get that degree because that’s what all your friends or your siblings did. It’s important to think carefully about why you’re going after a particular goal – ask yourself, would you still be going after the same goal if it wasn’t socially accepted?

Make sure that your goals aren’t influenced by what others think or expect from you. At the end of the day, they won’t make you happy and you don’t want to wait until you’ve achieved your goal to realise this.

We all deserve to be happy. What we do in life will ultimately create our sense of self, allow us to feel we’ve made a difference in the world (including our own world) and master our personal growth so have a think about your goals, your motivations and stay on your true path to happiness.

Can’t wait to set your goals but are clueless about what to do first?Lifehack Goal Setting System can give you the insights!

What is that?

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A hearty system that makes every small progress counts.

How would it help?

For every goal you add, you will receive practical and useful articles that guide you through the process and achieve remarkable outcomes.

What’s better than embarking on your goal setting journey by keeping yourself healthy first?

Check the following six goals and subscribe the ones you need!

Featured photo credit: David Marcu via stocksnap.io

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Jenny Marchal

A passionate writer who loves sharing about positive psychology.

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Last Updated on September 18, 2020

13 Helping Points When Things Don’t Go Your Way

13 Helping Points When Things Don’t Go Your Way

For the original article by Celestine: 13 Helping Points When Things Don’t Go Your Way

“We all have problems. The way we solve them is what makes us different.” ~Unknown

“It’s not stress that kills us, it is our reaction to it.” – Hans Selye

Have you ever experienced moments when things just don’t go your way? For example, losing your keys, accidentally spilling your drink, waking up late, missing your buses/trains, forgetting to bring your things, and so on?

You’re not alone. All of us, myself included, experience times when things don’t go as we expect.

Here is my guide on how to deal with daily setbacks.

1. Take a step back and evaluate

When something bad happens, take a step back and evaluate the situation. Some questions to ask yourself:

  1. What is the problem?
  2. Are you the only person facing this problem in the world today?
  3. How does this problem look like at an individual level? A national level? On a global scale?
  4. What’s the worst possible thing that can happen to you as a result of this?
  5. How is it going to impact your life in the next 1 year? 5 years? 10 years?

Doing this exercise is not to undermine the problem or disclaiming responsibility, but to consider different perspectives, so you can adopt the best approach for it. Most problems we encounter daily may seem like huge issues when they crop up, but most, if not all, don’t have much impact in our life beyond that day.

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2. Vent if you have to, but don’t linger on the problem

If you feel very frustrated and need to let off some steam, go ahead and do that. Talk to a friend, complain, crib about it, or scream at the top of your lungs if it makes you happy.

At the same time, don’t get caught up with venting. While venting may temporarily relieve yourself, it’s not going to solve the problem ultimately. You don’t want to be an energy vampire.

Vent if there’s a need to, but do it for 15 to 20 minutes. Then move on.

3. Realize there are others out there facing this too

Even though the situation may be frustrating, you’re not alone. Remember there are almost 7 billion people in the world today, and chances are that other people have faced the same thing before too. Knowing it’s not just you helps you to get out of a self-victimizing mindset.

4. Process your thoughts/emotions

Process your thoughts/emotions with any of the four methods:

  1. Journal. Write your unhappiness in a private diary or in your blog. It doesn’t have to be formal at all – it can be a brain dump on rough paper or new word document. Delete after you are done.
  2. Audio taping. Record yourself as you talk out what’s on your mind. Tools include tape recorder, your PC (Audacity is a freeware for recording/editing audio) and your mobile (most mobiles today have audio recording functions). You can even use your voice mail for this. Just talking helps you to gain awareness of your emotions. After recording, play back and listen to what you said. You might find it quite revealing.
  3. Meditation. At its simplest form, meditation is just sitting/lying still and observing your reality as it is – including your thoughts and emotions. Some think that it involves some complex mambo-jumbo, but it doesn’t.
  4. Talking to someone. Talking about it with someone helps you work through the issue. It also gets you an alternate viewpoint and consider it from a different angle.

5. Acknowledge your thoughts

Don’t resist your thoughts, but acknowledge them. This includes both positive and negative thoughts.

By acknowledging, I mean recognizing these thoughts exist. So if say, you have a thought that says, “Wow, I’m so stupid!”, acknowledge that. If you have a thought that says, “I can’t believe this is happening to me again”, acknowledge that as well.

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Know that acknowledging the thoughts doesn’t mean you agree with them. It’s simply recognizing the existence of said thoughts so that you can stop resisting yourself and focus on the situation on hand.

6. Give yourself a break

If you’re very stressed out by the situation, and the problem is not time sensitive, then give yourself a break. Take a walk, listen to some music, watch a movie, or get some sleep. When you’re done, you should feel a lot more revitalized to deal with the situation.

7. Uncover what you’re really upset about

A lot of times, the anger we feel isn’t about the world. You may start off feeling angry at someone or something, but at the depth of it, it’s anger toward yourself.

Uncover the root of your anger. I have written a five part anger management series on how to permanently overcome anger.

After that, ask yourself: How can you improve the situation? Go to Step #9, where you define your actionable steps. Our anger comes from not having control on the situation. Sitting there and feeling infuriated is not going to change the situation. The more action we take, the more we will regain control over the situation, the better we will feel.

8. See this as an obstacle to be overcome

As Helen Keller once said,

“Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through experiences of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, vision cleared, ambition inspired and success achieved.”

Whatever you’re facing right now, see it as an obstacle to be overcome. In every worthy endeavor, there’ll always be countless obstacles that emerge along the way. These obstacles are what separate the people who make it, and those who don’t. If you’re able to push through and overcome them, you’ll emerge a stronger person than before. It’ll be harder for anything to get you down in the future.

9. Analyze the situation – Focus on actionable steps

In every setback, there are going to be things that can’t be reversed since they have already occurred. You want to focus on things that can still be changed (salvageable) vs. things that have already happened and can’t be changed. The only time the situation changes is when you take steps to improve it. Rather than cry over spilt milk, work through your situation:

  1. What’s the situation?
  2. What’s stressing you about this situation?
  3. What are the next steps that’ll help you resolve them?
  4. Take action on your next steps!

After you have identified your next steps, act on them. The key here is to focus on the actionable steps, not the inactionable steps. It’s about regaining control over the situation through direct action.

10. Identify how it occurred (so it won’t occur again next time)

A lot of times we react to our problems. The problem occurs, and we try to make the best out of what has happened within the context. While developing a healthy coping mechanism is important (which is what the other helping points are on), it’s also equally important, if not more, to understand how the problem arose. This way, you can work on preventing it from taking place next time, vs. dealing reactively with it.

Most of us probably think the problem is outside of our control, but reality is most of the times it’s fully preventable. It’s just a matter of how much responsibility you take over the problem.

For example, for someone who can’t get a cab for work in the morning, he/she may see the problem as a lack of cabs in the country, or bad luck. However, if you trace to the root of the problem, it’s probably more to do with (a) Having unrealistic expectations of the length of time to get a cab. He/she should budget more time for waiting for a cab next time. (b) Oversleeping, because he/she was too tired from working late the previous day. He/she should allocate enough time for rest next time. He/she should also pick up better time management skills, so as to finish work in lesser time.

11. Realize the situation can be a lot worse

No matter how bad the situation is, it can always be much worse. A plus point vs. negative point analysis will help you realize that.

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12. Do your best, but don’t kill yourself over it

No matter how bad your situation may seem, do your best, but don’t kill yourself over it. Life is too beautiful to worry so much over daily issues. Take a step back (#1), give yourself a break if you need to (#6), and do what you can within your means (#9). Everything else will unfold accordingly. Worrying too much about the outcome isn’t going to change things or make your life any better.

13. Pick out the learning points from the encounter

There’s something to learn from every encounter. What have you learned from this situation? What lessons have you taken away?

After you identify your learning points, think about how you’re going to apply them moving forward. With this, you’ve clearly gained something from this encounter. You’ve walked away a stronger, wiser, better person, with more life lessons to draw from in the future.

Get the manifesto version of this article: [Manifesto] What To Do When Things Don’t Go Your Way

Featured photo credit: Alice Donovan Rouse via unsplash.com

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