What are the things in our lives that give it meaning? Take a few moments to reflect and write down what is meaningful. When we can take time to reflect, it gives us an opportunity to appreciate what is already fueling meaning for us. It also reminds us that we may need to slow things down a bit so that we can enjoy the blur of meaning that is currently whizzing by us.
Over the last six weeks we’ve been practicing six of the seven happiness habits:
- Mindfulness – using a nonjudgmental awareness and being present as we move through our day.
- Gratitude – we’ve been counting our blessings and focusing our attention and thought on the positive aspects of our lives.
- Physical wellness – exercising and eating right to provide an instant boost to our happiness.
- Altruism – by practicing random acts of kindness, volunteering, and donating money to help others in need we are increasing endorphins which make us feel good.
- Authentic and vulnerable – we have the courage to be our true and authentic self so that we can open the door vulnerability and forgiveness – thereby deepening our relationships.
- Social connection – Connection is our ability to forge meaningful authentic relationships with others. It is the essences of human experience and it gives meaning to our lives; it is also the anchor to our relationships.
Through our practicing of these happiness habits, life’s meaning should already be increasing. When we find a greater sense of meaning and purpose, it allows us to experience and enjoy life more fully.
“Happiness is a set of skills that we need to learn and practice so that we can become fluent in happiness.” – Christine Carter.
We all have different interpretations of what creates, develops, and enhances meaning in our lives. Unfortunately, we sometimes loose sight of these and get caught up in the hustle and bustle of life. Was your meaning list all that you wanted it to be? If you said “yes,” you are way ahead of the curve! If you said “a little bit” or “no,” keep reading.
There is a fairly simple step to finding more meaning in our lives. Are you sitting down? Here it goes…..meaning is a function of our own perception and reaction. We can increase meaning by observing the cause and effects of our feelings and behavior and then to use that knowledge to guide our future thoughts and actions. Hum….that sounds like self-awareness. Yup, it is! Meaning is created through our own interpretations and reactions.
The seventh happiness habit also includes a review of our natural strengths. We covered strengths in a previous post. As a reminder click here.
The final step of habit seven relates to success. As we discovered with meaning, success is also subjective. Rather than read about my take on success, take three minutes to watch the 8 components to success according to Richard St. John’s from his TED Talk. I promise, it is well worth it.
Does the word goal make you scrunch your nose and give you the hebbie jeebies? Or does word goal make you think of momentous work? Typically when I talk about setting goals with others I get a reaction of total distain or I get a response of yeah, I know I should have them but man, it’s just too much work!
In the last two posts (WOOP, and Get R Done) I mentioned the value of goals in part but what I’d like to do is to calm the hebbie jeebies and to help show that it really isn’t that much work to set and work on goals. If you want success in love, life, relationships, and your career, set goals and work on them daily!
All professional athletes and successful people use goals to reach a desired state. Whether it is learning how to bend it better than Beckham, running your first half marathon, making more money, finding the love of your life, getting a job promotion, or landing your dream job, goals are the key ingredient to reach the finish line and to achieve your desired future.
“Goals determine what you’re going to be.” – Julius Erving
Goals provide focus by creating a vision to what we want. By envisioning our ideal future, goal setting can help turn that vision into reality. The act of goal setting helps us to plan the necessary steps and provides the measuring stick to know when we’ve achieved success. Goals help us to choose what we want in life, where we would like to be in a given time period and they set the road map on how to get there.
The goal setting process doesn’t need to be daunting or difficult. A hint for successful completion of goals is to tap into what intrinsically motivates you. Understanding what you enjoy doing and what you are passionate about will help you set goals that are achievable and very rewarding. If you are new at setting goals, knowing what motivates you will help you to start a life long habit of setting and achieving goals.
Yes goals equal work! Just dreaming or wishing for something to happen will never make it so (unless you are living in a Disney movie – talk about hebbie jeebies!)
Establishing and working towards your goals gives you a sense of meaning and a clearer direction. A great benefit to goal setting and achievement is that you control the direction of change in your life not others. Turn the tables on change and make it largely self-directed. Want a bonus? It’s proven that having and working on your goals will help you feel happier and stronger by being more energized and effective. Sign me up for some of that please!
When you start to think about what you want out of life it will be important to understand the why behind each goal. A goal’s why will help you to stay motivated while you are working towards the finish line. What is each goals purpose? How will your life be better after you’ve achieved it? What are the benefits of reaching the goal? Start the process with thinking about what you’d like to achieve. What will the end result look like, feel like, smell like, taste like. By including your senses it will help you to stay motivated to completing the steps (yes the work) to reach your goals.
“Though we may have desires or bold goals, for whatever reason most of us don’t think we can achieve something beyond what we’re qualified to achieve. Why, I ask, do we let reality interfere with our dreams?” – Simon Sinek
Be a realistic optimist. You will stumble and fall, you will hit the wall, and you’ll want to give up. Understanding that the road to success is a wild roller coaster ride will help you to set into play contingency plans to overcome the obstacles to reaching your goal. When we know that there will be both known and unforeseen obstacles in the way of reaching a goal, you can have the persistence to proceed in the face of difficulty.
“People with clear, written goals accomplish far more in a shorter period of time than people without them could ever imagine.” – Brian Tracy
Many people use the start of a new year to set resolutions (goals) but you don’t have to wait until then. There is no time like the present…just think, you could get a 31-day jump on everyone else if you start now!
“What you get by achieving your goals is not as important as what you become by achieving your goals.” – Henry David Thoreau
After taking in all of this information as a framework to start setting goals, here are my thoughts on how to get moving forward:
- Write your goals down. This makes your goals specific with actionable time-bound outcomes. Sound like setting SMART goals? Yup, that’s a great place to start! SMART stands for:
- S = Specific/Significant
- M = Measurable/Meaningful
- A = Attainable/Action-oriented
- R = Relevant/Rewarding
- T = Time-bound/Trackable
State each goal as a positive statement using action oriented words. Use the words “I promise” to help you stay accountable. Writing your goals down creates a contract and a way of reminding yourself what you need to do to Get R Done. Yearly I set specific health, relationship, financial and career goals. I’ve seen others also include a community, faith, and artistic goal as well; what’s important is that you write them down and put your goals in a place that you can see them daily – out of sight means out of mind.
- Create a vision for your goals. When we can wrap a vision around each goal and attach an emotional component we are much more likely to preform the work needed to reach them. Also attaching emotion helps give us the motivation and energy needed to complete the tasks that aren’t as much fun.
- Break large goals into sub-goals. Some goals are more complicated and take years to complete. Break these into smaller sub-goals to make them more manageable.
- Make a list of obstacles. Think of everything (and everyone – including yourself!) that might stand in the way of reaching each goal. Put a plan into place as to how to overcome each obstacle. This will reduce the obstacle’s influence and increase a successful outcome. Sound familiar? This is the second O in WOOP (Wish, Outcome, Obstacle, Plan).
- Block out time on your calendar to work on your goals daily. Protect this time with all of your being. Choose the best time of day where you are most efficient and focused to work on your goals – this is one of the best ways to overcome the “I don’t have time” obstacle. Also it will be important to communicate with those close to you by asking they respect this time. They can also be unofficial accountability partners and get your butt in gear when you aren’t working on your goals.
- Learn from others. Reach out to and learn from those who have been successful with your specific goal. Don’t recreate the wheel – ask for guidance and best practices on how to successfully reach your goal. Ask if there were any hidden obstacles that you should be aware of and how did they overcome them.
- Have an accountability partner. I’m a firm believer that when you share your goal(s) with others and ask them to periodically check in with you, that you will continue to perform the work it takes to be successful especially when you’ve lost motivation.
- Change your thinking and believe. Remove those limiting beliefs. They are the byproduct of information that you were told when you were young. Overcoming these beliefs can be one of the largest obstacles standing in your way of reaching your goals – recognize this and put plans into place to change that way of thinking. Believe that you can accomplish your goals. Belief is the catalyst that activates all of your mental and physical abilities and belief is what will keep you going when you’re battling obstacles.
- Create a plan. Now that you’ve written down your goal, attached an emotional component, identified known obstacles, reached out to those who have been successful with your goal, and you have an accountability partner, now you need to develop the actionable steps needed to achieve your goal. Write down the steps in detail. Take those steps and break them into daily tasks and put them on your calendar. Your biggest concern isn’t your skill, ability or intelligence – it is your commitment! At the end of each day, you can reflect upon and know that you’ve taken the actionable steps toward the finish line and success.
- Celebrate small successes! When you break your goals into smaller components, build in mini-achievements and reward yourself when you reach them. It’s important to let yourself feel good about all of the progress you’ve made. Also, it’s okay to take a day off to rest or just to goof off. One day won’t hurt your goal and it will reset your perspective by giving you more energy and enthusiasm to roll your sleeves up and Get R Done! Now et out there and set some GOOOAAALLLSSS!
“You control your future, your destiny. What you think about comes about. By recording your dreams and goals on paper, you set in motion the process of becoming the person you most want to be. Put your future in good hands – your own.” – Mark Victor Hansen