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Last Updated on January 19, 2021

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.

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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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Last Updated on June 9, 2021

Finally Reach Your Goal with the 6 A’s of Change

Finally Reach Your Goal with the 6 A’s of Change

Many of us set goals for ourselves at the start of each new year. Some of us choose to set specific goals such as losing a certain amount of weight by a certain date or decreasing the amount of carbonated drinks we intake.

While others choose more general, less specific goals such as be more organized, be healthier, or manage time better.

Whatever your goals or New Year’s resolutions are, there almost always seems to be the assumption that we won’t keep our New Year’s resolutions by the end of the year. Most of the changes we wish to make are positive habits we hope to incorporate and establish in our everyday lives. Your belief that these goals are not attainable may actually be influencing your ability to make a change.

Our problem is that we tend to focus on the obstacles that may be placed in front of us that can prevent or hinder our goal attainment rather than focusing on the actual process towards attaining those resolutions. Some models like the Stages of Change Model, also known as the Transtheoretical Model, are great guides to assist with understanding our levels of change.

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So, how do we ensure we meet our goals and resolutions before another ball drops (literally and figuratively)?

With the Six A’s of Change!

1. Awareness

As the old saying goes, the first step towards change is admitting that change is necessary. Being aware and acknowledging that change is needed is the first step towards tackling a goal. It takes strength to understand that change is needed. Believe it or not, some people don’t realize when change is needed. This change can be external while others can be internal. It truly takes a sense of mindfulness to become aware that change is warranted. Mindfulness practice can be beneficial establishing awareness towards needed changes in your life. If you are at this step, give yourself a pat on the back! You are one step closer towards your goal.

2. Assessment

If there is something in your life you wish to change on a permanent basis, it may be helpful to attempt to understand the origin.

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For example: let’s say you have a certain behavior you wish to change. Assessing where the behavior may stem from can be beneficial to your goal attainment. Sometimes, establishing an origin is difficult and/or impossible to achieve and that is ok, but it doesn’t hurt to try.

The key is to attempt to assess the origin. Sometimes the root of the problem or not knowing the root can hinder growth or progression towards goal attainment. In theraputic practice, this is known as a psychodynamic approach. If you are able to find an origin or contributor of behavior, it’s important not to identify origin of behavior as an excuse but to better understand where that behavior comes from so you can begin to work on tackling the behavior and the origin to assist with permanent results.

Another part of the assessment stage is to understand and assess your why! Why do you want or need this change? Determining your why will assist in keep you motivated towards change.

3. Accountability

Stay accountable! One way to keep yourself accountable towards your resolutions and goals are to write them down. Write your goals down some place you can see them every day. I like to carry around a notebook that are designated towards my catergorized goals. My goals range from financial goals, personal goals, and business related goals. Each month I re-assess my goals to ensure that the goals I made in January of a new year don’t end up transfering over into other months or worse, years!

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Another way to hold yourself accountable is to tell someone. Your close friends and family can’t hold you accountable towards your goals if you don’t tell them. Having a supportive environment is helpful when attempting to make change.

4. Activation

In the activation step you are taking action. Activate measurable actions towards change.

For example, your New Year’s resolution may be to “be more organized in the mornings.” Some action steps you may activate include going to bed earlier, making the bed in the morning, and planning and prepping meals or outfits before bed.

The activation stage should feel like homework. This is a cognitive behavioral approach in which you implement or activate measurable steps towards change. These are all measurable action steps that you can activate to establish adequate change in habits that will ultimately assist with your goal attainment.

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5. Analyze

Once you have activated measurable goals the next step is to analyze. Is everything in your activation step assisting with attaining your ultimate goal: “to be more organized in the mornings”?

If you ask any business owner or entreprenuer, analyzing results and outcome measures is key towards success. If you don’t assess analytics within your own goals it will be difficult to determine if adequate change has actually been made. Ask yourself, are there some additional action steps that need to be activated in order to truly attain change? Am I being held accountable? Could I be doing more?

6. Attain

Lastly, attain! Ensure that you are not only obtaining the necessary activation steps but that you have attained your initial goal successfully. If you need to go back to step 5, that is ok. In this step, you have established adequate change and are sure that you have attained your goal(s).

So, there you have it, The 6 A’s of Change: Awareness, Assessment, Accountablity, Activation, Analyze, and Attain! Don’t be afraid of change! There is often a negative connotation that comes with the thought of change. However, change is truly the only thing in this world that remains constant. Let’s make 2017 the year we actually keep our New Year resolutions. Always remember, “Change begins in your mind.”

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Featured photo credit: Aline de Nadai via unsplash.com

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