5 Ways to Set Goals That Will Make You Happier


Guest post by Greg Weiss, Founder of TheFirstFewSeconds.com

You’ve probably set goals for yourself in the past. Maybe you met them. But how did you feel while you were working towards them? How did you feel afterwards?  Concentrate on setting goals that make you happy – you’ll be much more likely to achieve them, and you’ll enjoy the process as well. Here’s how.

1. Set goals that make you happy now.

Avoid goals that are about your happiness 6 months from now. Choose goals that make you happy now, today, where you are. Does this mean your goal should be to watch as many Modern Family episodes as possible? Not quite. But it also means that you shouldn’t set a goal to be 50 pounds lighter and in your dream job half a year from now. Instead, perhaps you could set a goal to only watch Modern Family while walking on your treadmill – or only watch Modern Family after you’ve sent your resume out to 10 different jobs. See the difference?

TIP: You won’t keep your goals if they require you to sacrifice something now for more happiness later. We’re just not wired that way.

2. Don’t let fear be your motivation.

When your goals are based on fear, they probably don’t make you happy. Here’s an example: the rent is due, and you’re afraid you won’t be able to cover it. So you set a “goal” to make $1000 by the end of the month. And then to meet your goal, you wind up accepting a job or taking on a project that doesn’t really meet your long-term goals, and you’re miserable.

TIP: Don’t allow fear to be the driving force behind your goals. Yes, it’s important to pay the rent. But don’t equate that short-term need with your long-term goals. 

3. Don’t set goals you can’t control.

The worst goals are the ones most of us set around January 1st of each year: I’ll lose weight! I’ll make more money! These aren’t things that you can control. Instead, you can set a goal to exercise for 15 minutes daily, or apply to 15 carefully researched jobs each month. Those goals give you something to check off. You can, at any point during the month, assess how you’re doing.

TIP: It’s far more motivating if you set goals that are independent of external factors – more dependent on what is controllable.

4. Make sure your goals are S.M.A.R.T.

The best goals are S.M.A.R.T. goals: goals that are specific, measurable, actionable, reasonable, and time-oriented.

  • Specific means clarify exactly who, what, when, where, how, and why. For example: I will send my resume out to 3 jobs each day by 2 pm.
  • Measurable lets you see how you’re doing. If you’ve sent out 3 resumes and it’s not 2pm yet, you’re on schedule. If you haven’t sent out 3 resumes and it’s after 2, you’re behind. Get back on track.
  • Actionable goals give you concrete assignments – in this case, sending out a resume. (The flip side is a goal like, “Get a new job.” What’s the action you take?)
  • Reasonable goals are those that can actually be accomplished. Sending out 3 resumes daily if you’re not currently working is reasonable. Sending out 25 resumes daily is not.
  • Time-orienting your goal gives you a deadline.

TIP: If you can’t measure it, then it’s far too vague to be a goal you can attain. As the saying goes, what gets measured, gets done.

 5. Choose positive goals over negative ones.

When your goal is “lose 15 pounds,” you’re setting yourself up for failure. Beyond the fact that the goal isn’t S.M.A.R.T., it’s a negative goal, so you’re moving away from something. A goal should be about moving forward – for example, “exercise for 30 minutes every morning at 6am.”

TIP:  In addition, make a point of phrasing goals with positive language – a goal should be about you want to do, not what you want to avoid.


greg weissAbout the Author: Greg Weiss is the Founder of TheFirstFewSeconds.com.  His entire career history has focused on marketing and people, helping people relaunch and accelerate their careers.


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