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How to Set Life Goals That Ensure Success and Happiness

How to Set Life Goals That Ensure Success and Happiness

If you want to be successful and happy you have to set life goals. Why? Because life goals give you focus, motivation and vision. They help you to formulate action plans and implement the steps you need to take. Without them you are lost. Moreover, seeing and experiencing yourself achieving the steps toward reaching a goal, can be motivating in itself and builds confidence in your ability to hit your target. Research suggests that setting life goals for ourselves and progressing towards them, also fosters well-being. Perhaps because our happiness is intertwined with having a sense of meaning, hope and purpose in life.

So which type of goals work best and how should you set them specifically?

Studies have shown that there are two types of goals:

1. Intrinsic goals: According to positive psychologist Tim Kasser and colleagues, intrinsic goals ‘are those that are inherently satisfying to pursue because they are likely to satisfy innate psychological needs for autonomy, relatedness, competence, and growth’. They depend on satisfying one’s own basic psychological needs rather than relying upon the judgments or approval of others. Examples of these goals include self-acceptance, forming social connections, studying further and physical fitness.

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2. Extrinsic goals: These types of goals on the other hand, are focused on attaining rewards and/or praise from others. They are a means to an end, not inherently rewarding in and of themselves. Examples include financial wealth, fame, or popularity. People often pursue extrinsic goals under the assumption that these goals will bring them happiness, but evidence suggests otherwise.

Researchers speculate that intrinsic goals lead to greater happiness because, in the pursuit of these goals, people have positive experiences along the way that support their happiness.

Now that you understand the significance of setting intrinsic goals to your well-being, ask yourself the following:

# What are my values?
# What do I dream of achieving?
# Who am I really?
# Have I a mission in the world?
# And if so, what do I stand for?
# What would I do to defend my mission?

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Success is about giving the fullest expression to your dreams, your hopes, your aspirations and your values. You need to strive and work in alignment with these things. It is not about living by the measures of: other people, class, race, parents demands and society wants. You have to have a sense of mission. The opinion of others can deprive you of oxygen and the space you need to explore your vision. Each one of us is unique and success is finding that mission, so cut yourself some slack. Think about what you could do other than you are doing now to be the true expression of yourself. What would you do differently, if you had the courage to truly accept yourself?

It can’t be stated enough that the goals of true personal success and happiness can never be imposed upon you by organisations, bosses, family or friends. They must spring from your heart and inner desires. You will know when you are on the right track when you have discovered what you truly want. This is often accompanied by strong emotion and feelings of liberation.

How to Do The Best Possible Self Practice

Take a moment to close your eyes, relax and imagine your life in the future. Visualise your goals. Make them live, give them colour, turn up the volume. If they give you a feeling, where and what is it. What is the best possible life you can imagine? Consider all of the relevant areas of your life, such as your career, academic work, relationships, spiritual life, hobbies, and health. What would happen in these areas of your life in your best possible future? Now for the next 15 minutes, write continuously about what you imagine this best possible future to be.

Remember to always state what you want in the positive. If you state something in the negative, you are running away from rather than truly embracing the message that your heart gives you. You are like a ship leaving a harbour with no real destination. You need to move clearly towards your goals, whether they are short term or long term.

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It may be easy for this exercise to lead you to examine how your current life may not match this best possible future. You may be tempted to think about ways in which accomplishing goals has been difficult for you in the past, or about financial/time/social barriers to being able to make these accomplishments happen. For the purpose of this exercise, however, focus only on the future—imagine a brighter future in which you are your ‘best self’ and your circumstances change just enough to make this best possible life happen.

This exercise is most useful when it is very specific—if you think about a new job, imagine exactly what you would do, who you would work with, and where it would be. The more specific you are, the more engaged you will be in the exercise and the more you’ll get out of it. Be as creative and imaginative as you want, and don’t worry about grammar or spelling.

Why You Should Try it

Sometimes discovering our goals in life can be a challenging task. But research suggests that building optimism about the future can motivate people to work toward that desired future and thus make it more likely to become a reality.

This exercise asks you to imagine your life going as well as it possibly could, then write about this best possible future. By doing so, research suggests that you’ll not only increase your happiness in the present but pave the way for sustained happiness down the line.

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Why This Practice is Useful

By thinking about your best possible future self, you can learn about yourself and what you want in life. This way of thinking can help you restructure your priorities in life in order to reach your goals. Additionally, it can help you increase your sense of control over your life by highlighting what you need to do to achieve your dreams

To set real and tangible goals, always consider them in terms of the impact on others and whether they are capable of inspiring. Ultimately, selfish goals are empty and meaningless. They will not inspire your heart in the long term. Consider what your goals will enable you to offer your fellow people. Do they make sense and help you attain a building block in your life and career and could you achieve more for yourself and humanity?

Goals form your life and create desire. Sometimes realism sets in and you have to readjust. However, you can still hold onto them. If you discover weaknesses simply consider what you can do to turn them into strengths. Never lose sight of your life goals because not only are they achievable, they are what your dreams are made of and we all need to dream, don’t we!

Featured photo credit: BK via flickr.com

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Last Updated on July 16, 2019

7 Powerful Habits To Win In Office Politics

7 Powerful Habits To Win In Office Politics

Office politics – a taboo word for some people. It’s a pervasive thing at the workplace.

In its simplest form, workplace politics is simply about the differences between people at work; differences in opinions, conflicts of interests are often manifested as office politics. It all goes down to human communications and relationships.

There is no need to be afraid of office politics. Top performers are those who have mastered the art of winning in office politics. Below are 7 good habits to help you win at the workplace:

1. Be Aware You Have a Choice

The most common reactions to politics at work are either fight or flight. It’s normal human reaction for survival in the wild, back in the prehistoric days when we were still hunter-gatherers.

Sure, the office is a modern jungle, but it takes more than just instinctive reactions to win in office politics. Instinctive fight reactions will only cause more resistance to whatever you are trying to achieve; while instinctive flight reactions only label you as a pushover that people can easily take for granted. Neither options are appealing for healthy career growth.

Winning requires you to consciously choose your reactions to the situation. Recognize that no matter how bad the circumstances, you have a choice in choosing how you feel and react. So how do you choose? This bring us to the next point…

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2. Know What You Are Trying to Achieve

When conflicts happen, it’s very easy to be sucked into tunnel-vision and focus on immediate differences. That’s a self-defeating approach. Chances are, you’ll only invite more resistance by focusing on differences in people’s positions or opinions.

The way to mitigate this without looking like you’re fighting to emerge as a winner in this conflict is to focus on the business objectives. In the light of what’s best for the business, discuss the pros and cons of each option. Eventually, everyone wants the business to be successful; if the business don’t win, then nobody in the organization wins.

It’s much easier for one to eat the humble pie and back off when they realize the chosen approach is best for the business.

By learning to steer the discussion in this direction, you will learn to disengage from petty differences and position yourself as someone who is interested in getting things done. Your boss will also come to appreciate you as someone who is mature, strategic and can be entrusted with bigger responsibilities.

3. Focus on Your Circle of Influence

At work, there are often issues which we have very little control over. It’s not uncommon to find corporate policies, client demands or boss mandates which affects your personal interests.

Gossiping and complaining are common responses to these events that we cannot control. But think about it, other than that short term emotional outlet, what tangible results do gossiping really accomplish? In most instances, none.

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Instead of feeling victimized and angry about the situation, focus on the things that you can do to influence the situation — your circle of influence. This is a very empowering technique to overcome the feeling of helplessness. It removes the victimized feeling and also allows others to see you as someone who knows how to operate within given constraints.

You may not be able to change or decide on the eventual outcome but, you can walk away knowing that you have done the best within the given circumstances.

Constraints are all around in the workplace; with this approach, your boss will also come to appreciate you as someone who is understanding and positive.

4. Don’t Take Sides

In office politics, it is possible to find yourself stuck in between two power figures who are at odds with each other. You find yourself being thrown around while they try to outwit each other and defend their own position; all at the expense of you getting the job done. You can’t get them to agree on a common decision for a project, and neither of them want to take ownership of issues; they’re too afraid they’ll get stabbed in the back for any mishaps.

In cases like this, focus on the business objectives and don’t take side with either of them – even if you like one better than the other. Place them on a common communication platform and ensure open communications among all parties, so that no one can claim “I didn’t say that”.

By not taking sides, you’ll help to direct conflict resolution in an objective manner. You’ll also build trust with both parties. That’ll help to keep the engagements constructive and focus on business objectives.

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5. Don’t Get Personal

In office politics, you’ll get angry with people. It happens. There will be times when you feel the urge to give that person a piece of your mind and teach him a lesson. Don’t.

People tend to remember moments when they were humiliated or insulted. Even if you win this argument and get to feel really good about it for now, you’ll pay the price later when you need help from this person. What goes around comes around, especially at the workplace.

To win in the office, you’ll want to build a network of allies which you can tap into. The last thing you want during a crisis or an opportunity is to have someone screw you up because they harbor ill-intentions towards you – all because you’d enjoyed a brief moment of emotional outburst at their expense.

Another reason to hold back your temper is your career advancement. Increasingly, organizations are using 360 degree reviews to promote someone. Even if you are a star performer, your boss will have to fight a political uphill battle if other managers or peers see you as someone who is difficult to work with. The last thing you’ll want is to make it difficult for your boss to champion you for a promotion.

6. Seek to Understand, Before Being Understood

The reason people feel unjustified is because they felt misunderstood. Instinctively, we are more interested in getting the others to understand us than to understand them first. Top people managers and business leaders have learned to suppress this urge.

Surprisingly, seeking to understand is a very disarming technique. Once the other party feels that you understand where he/she is coming from, they will feel less defensive and be open to understand you in return. This sets the stage for open communications to arrive at a solution that both parties can accept.

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Trying to arrive at a solution without first having this understanding is very difficult – there’s little trust and too much second-guessing.

7. Think Win-Win

As mentioned upfront, political conflicts happen because of conflicting interests. Perhaps due to our schooling, we are taught that to win, someone else needs to lose. Conversely, we are afraid to let someone else win, because it implies losing for us.

In business and work, that doesn’t have to be the case.

Learn to think in terms of “how can we both win out of this situation?” This requires that you first understand the other party’s perspective and what’s in it for him.

Next, understand what’s in it for you. Strive to seek out a resolution that is acceptable and beneficial to both parties. Doing this will ensure that everyone truly commit to the agreed resolution and will not pay only lip-service to it.

People simply don’t like to lose. You may get away with win-lose tactics once or twice but very soon, you’ll find yourself without allies in the workplace.

Thinking win-win is an enduring strategy that builds allies and help you win in the long term.

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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