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Last Updated on January 19, 2021

Why Setting Intrinsic Goals Can Make You Happier

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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.

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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.

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.

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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.

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.

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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.

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?

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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.

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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Published on September 16, 2021

What Are Process Goals? (With Examples)

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What Are Process Goals? (With Examples)

Ready. Set. Go. For years, this was my three-step mindset when it came to goals. I would reach for the moon and hope to land among the stars without feeling the pain of the fall. This approach was all or nothing, and as a result, I experienced loads of burnout and almost zero productivity. In short, my task list was filled with high-level intentions, but I hadn’t taken the time to create a map to reach the destinations. I was lost in the planning stages because I didn’t understand process goals or have any examples to follow.

Since then, I’ve learned how to embrace the journey and break my outcome goals into smaller and more manageable process goals. This approach has improved my focus and reduced frustration because I’m now working towards a surefire strategy that will take me where I want to go––I’m creating a plan of action with achievable daily targets (a process goal).

What Is a Process Goal?

A process goal is not a destination, it’s the path you plan on taking to get there. For example, if you want to become better at writing, your process goal would be to post one blog article per week and learn from the feedback you receive. The destination is a monthly goal of 12 articles.

This distinction is important because it’s easy to lose sight of the fact that these types of goals are not all or nothing. Think about it. You’ve heard it said: it’s not about working hard but working smart.

Well, a process goal is an actionable target with what we call SMART criteria:

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  • Specific – The more detailed your goal, the better. For example, instead of “I want to be fit,” you would say, “I want to lose five pounds.” Make sure your goal is crystal clear.
  • Measurable – You need a way to measure progress and success, so it needs to be quantifiable. This is where you decide what “fit” actually means for you (more on this later).
  • Achievable – If your goal isn’t challenging, then it’s not going to be motivating. On the other hand, there must be a steeper mountain to climb if you want substantial results.
  • Realistic – “I want to run a marathon” is not practical for most people. Ensure you have the time, energy, and resources (e.g., training program) required to achieve your goal.
  • Time-Bound – Your goal needs an assigned deadline or it’s just a pipe dream. There’s nothing wrong with dreaming, but what happens when the fantasy ends?

To summarize, these are the essential components of any process goal: specific, measurable, achievable within a certain time frame, and realistic.

What Is a Destination Goal?

A destination goal is a point in time when you plan to be at a particular destination. For example, if your goal is to get to represent your country at the 2025 Summer Olympics, you right need to focus on smaller increments to attain that success. On your way to that goal, you need to focus on smaller destinations. First, make the national team. Then, compete in a few events and so forth.

If you try to make it to the Olympics from the very start without any milestones along the way, it would be too daunting. On the other hand, if you focus on each milestone as a destination goal, it will all seem possible and achievable.

Process Goal Template

Let’s say you want to become a better cook. Here is one way of writing the process goal: “I will save $100 per week by cooking all my meals at home for 12 weeks.” This would be your destination (monthly), and the steps required to achieve this goal (weekly) would be:

  1. Spend one hour on Sunday planning my meals for the week.
  2. Shop for groceries after work on Monday and Tuesday nights.
  3. Cook all meals at home on Wednesdays through Sundays.
  4. Pack my lunch for work on Mondays and Tuesdays.
  5. Save $100 per week in cash by cooking at home.

This process goal will help you become a better cook by teaching you to save money through planning, shopping, cooking, packing your own lunch, and trying new recipes. It also includes a weekly reward (saving $100 in cash) that will help you stay motivated.

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Process goals encourage you to reach your ultimate goals. When you feel like you can accomplish smaller goals along the way, you gain sustainability and confidence to move forward.

In many ways, process goals are a lot like faith. Each accomplishment brings you closer to seeing the fullness of the life that you desire––it breaks through the fog and makes things clearer.

What Questions Helped Me Find My Process Goals?

After several years of setting lofty goals and becoming increasingly frustrated when I wasn’t getting the results I wanted, I decided to take a closer look at my approach.

Now, there are many ways you can do this, but here’s how I went about it. Last year, I asked myself the following questions:

  • What am I doing right now?
  • How can I get better at this?
  • Is this process goal leading me closer to my ultimate goals?

The choices I made from the answers to these questions became my process goals. They were the driving force that kept me motivated and moving forward when I wanted to give up and throw in the towel. Since then, I’ve been able to accomplish lifelong goals that I had given up on years ago. For example, I’ve been able to obtain a publishing contract, create more digital products for my business, and enjoy the moment.

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Before I broke down my goals into smaller ones, I was struggling to just get out of bed. The thought of my endless list kept me stagnant. Now, I look forward to each morning and taking on smaller projects to reach profitable outcomes.

What Are Some Process Goals You Can Try?

So, now that you understand the importance of process goals, let’s get you started with some examples that you can utilize this week:

  • Sign up for a new class.
  • Complete one portion of your project by Thursday.
  • Start walking around the block instead of running a mile.
  • Improve your writing by spending 30 minutes everyday journaling.
  • Practice your interview skills.
  • Read at least one book from the library this week.
  • Do ten push-ups each day before you leave for work.

You get the idea. These process goals don’t have to be complicated. If anything, you want to break down your plans to the point of them feeling easy or at least doable without needing a week’s vacation. By breaking your goals down into smaller pieces, you can accomplish a lot more in a shorter period. You’ll also feel more confident that you’re able to accomplish something within the moment.

It isn’t easy to continue towards your goal if achievement feels too far away. You need to celebrate the small things and embrace the process.

What Do You Need for Process Goals?

Think about how much time and money you’ve spent on new clothes, books, technology, etc. Many of us want to keep up with the latest trends and purchase the best gadgets from Apple or Microsoft. But all of these extra investments come at a steep price.

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To find your process goals, you may have to face some difficult emotions or situations bravely and confront them head-on. You might need to forgo the new outfit or the latest Mac book to meet your overall objectives.[1] Remember, process goals not only protect you from feeling overwhelmed, but they also keep you from being distracted.

Final Thoughts

You may feel overwhelmed at first when trying to set a process goal. Sometimes, just thinking about change triggers stress hormones, which only leads to more worries and anxious feelings. However, if you keep yourself focused and take small steps in the right direction, you’ll soon realize that goals don’t have to be complicated.

You can achieve your process goals one day at a time, and you can start today by breaking down your larger goal into smaller steps. It doesn’t matter if the process takes a week or six months, what matters most is that you’re moving forward and doing something to make yourself better.

Now, go on out there and achieve one of your process goals!

Featured photo credit: Kaleidico via unsplash.com

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