How to Choose Happiness-Building Goals
by coach Andrea Taylor
Goals give you purpose and a chance to accomplish something that matters to you. But did you know you can choose types of goals that are proven to increase happiness?
Different types of goals exist. Some are much more likely than others to boost happiness. Let’s look at some research so you can use sound strategies to build your happiness.
Competitive versus Non-Competitive Goals
A goal is competitive when its outcome produces winners and loser. For example, if you set the goal to get a promotion, it’s a competitive goal. If you succeed, there are others who did not get the promotion. A 2007 report published in Social Indicators Research by B. Headey explained that competitive goals reduce happiness.
As for non-competitive goals, the research showed that they increase happiness. If you make a goal related to improving family life, making friends, or contributing to your community, you will raise your happiness. Because these goals create no losers, they also spread happiness to others.
Non-competitive goals can also be described as sustaining because they get you to build relationships, show appreciation, and renew yourself.
Goals that drain you are similar to competitive goals. When you’re going after more possessions and approval, you’re left wanting more even when you succeed.
Intrinsic vs Extrinsic Goals
Another way to look at goals is to figure out if they are intrinsic or extrinsic. C.P. Niemiec and colleagues reporting in the Journal of Research in Personality explained that intrinsic
However, self esteem goes down for people going after extrinsic goals, like seeking wealth and fame. The same researchers found that those goals are linked to anxiety and depression.
Happiness is Contagious
Goals that increase your happiness also improve the feelings of those around you. Happiness is contagious!
D. Goleman explained this phenomenon in 2006 in the publication Educational Leadership. Mirror neurons in our brains help us share each other’s emotions. We are hardwired to mimic what we see in others. Our happiness produces a positive feedback loop in others.
Become a Happiness Champion
For more inspiration on how to choose happiness-building goals, become a Happiness Champion in the Happiness Goals Countdown. You'll learn about ten specific goals that have been proven to boost happiness leading up to the new year (sort of a happy spin on New Years resolutions). Add these to your "happiness list" and have a happier 2015!