It's a Chicken and Egg thing: Goal setting and happiness


I think we can all agree that the ultimate goal in life is to be happy. And we are happier when we're kind, compassionate, healthy, forgiving and think we have a purpose.

For me, none of these things come naturally. I have to work at each one of those things on the list. I'm sure I'm not alone since I'm pretty sure none of us are perfect.

So setting goals helps me lay out a clear line of how to be a better person, how to grow and steps I can take to get there.

But I've been thinking a lot lately about how I make goals and some of them stick, but some of them perpetually seem to fall through the cracks.

I get disappointed and frustrated in myself when I see the same themes or goals popping back up on my "to achieve" list.

I'll think to myself "Why should I put this back on the list, when it seems like I have an inability to hold myself to it anyway?"

I know I'm hard on myself; I'm perpetually nit-picking at things I'd like to improve on or learn or achieve. Goals setting in this respect can be counter productive. I know this. And I know It's easy to be unmotivated when you are hard on yourself, when you allow yourself to think, "I'm falling short of the mark."

This obviously isn't a good sort of sprial pattern of thinking to get sucked into. In fact it's the direct opposite of being happy by self-fulfillment and the pursuit of happiness.

So for me, staying motivated is just as much a part of goal setting as it is goal "execution." Otherwise I run the risk of throwing the towel in completely when for example come June I realize I still haven't been able to stick to that "get up earlier" plan I set in January. I have to believe in myself; I have to give myself an infinite amount of chances to get "it" right.

After a lifetime of mastering a really, really strict and judgemental inner conscience, I've learned this:

The first rule of goal setting is you make the rules, no one else.

Goals are only good for your own happiness when you realize that you are your own judge.

So deep down I know, for much of my life, I'll have so many of the same goals - but it's not a bad thing. You can always "be healthier" you can always "be kinder" and you can always, always learn more. So what if you have to remind yourself of it every so often? I leave that sort of sublime, in utero achievement to people like the Dalia Lama and even he I'm sure would tell you the same thing; the pursuit of happiness first of all starts within, and from a purpose driven life - so I guess even he's working at it daily.

I've got a lot to say on the topic (naturally) and so I've broken it up into a bit of mini series. For whatever reason I was struck by the philosophical bug this week and I thought I'd lay it out, blogsphere style.

Part Deux?

Staying Motivated

In the meantime though, do you set personal goals? and what do you do when you find you aren't reaching them?