How to Set Goals Which Will Make You Happy

Oh yes it’s that time where goal setting is all the rage as the start of a new year begins. It’s also around this time that those same goals can suddenly seem daunting or lose their shiny allure. While more traditional models of goal setting focus on the “what” of a goal, Positive Psychology studies (“the science of happiness”) have shown us that it is actually much more effective and motivating to focus on the “why”.

Some goals make us happy, while others do not. This is because there are two types of goals. Extrinsic goals which relate to “worldly goods” like money, status, looks or fame, while intrinsic goals, focus inward and tend to relate to “goods for the soul” like physical health, relationships and personal growth. Extrinsic goals often don’t meet our psychological needs while intrinsic goals do. ┬áThis doesn’t mean it’s a bad thing to want something that may fall into the extrinsic category but when we work with the “why” of a goal rather than the “what” of a goal then once achieved, it will meet our inner needs and create a lasting, happiness. This being different to a goal that might bring us a short burst of glee but soon falls victim to what’s known as “hedonic adaptation” – where we adapt to things which then increases that feeling of wanting more, bigger, better and never being happy with what we achieve or acquire.

For example, say one of your goals reads “I want to buy an expensive convertible sports car where everyone admires me by x date ” you may want to look at re-framing your goal to read “When I drive, I want to experience a fast, smooth ride with the wind in my hair, sun on my face, in control and completely free”. Chances are when you do achieve that goal rather than quickly getting bored of your fancy new convertible once your brain adapts to it, your joy will be longer lasting and touch a part of you that serves your wellbeing and feeds your happiness. This is because rather than a “what” (the car itself) you pursued a “why” (a sense of freedom, a feeling of control yet carefree and at one with the elements while driving etc.).

At Yeotown we have set our sights on some great “happy” goals over the coming year that we believe will not just serve our own personal happiness but involve helping others flourish and create an authentic happiness for themselves too. We hope to welcome you at some point this year and until then, wishing you healthy and happy goals for 2016 and beyond!

Mercedes N Sieff

About Mercedes N Sieff

Perfectly imperfect Yogini in stilettos, Mercedes Ngoh Sieff is Co-Founder of the award winning Yeotown Health retreat. A long time Vinyasa Flow Yoga instructor and one of the UK's happiest and most creative teachers, Mercedes divides her time between London and Devon. Flow Yoga Mama to two baby girls and wife to an awesome guy, Mercedes is a lifestyle blogger for the Huffington Post and frequently contributes articles to popular wellbeing websites such as MindBodyGreen and Elephant Journal. She is an ambassador for Lululemon Athletica and Manduka and features regularly on ITV1, BBC Radio and in publications such as Tatler, The Sunday Times , Conde Nast Traveler, OM Magazine, Harpers Bazaar and Yoga Magazine. Mercedes is also a Positive Psychology Coach and holds a Diploma in Coaching from Cambridge University. For more on Mercedes, visit her website linked below.

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