Want Long-term Happiness? Look Beyond Goal Fulfillment

My Type-A readers may baulk at this title, but if you look at it through the lens of a project manager, you’ll realize that reaching a goal is actually a milestone and by definition a milestone has no duration. It’s simply a point in time. While people may experience a moment of satisfaction upon achieving a goal, the feeling can be as fleeting as a cool breeze on a hot day.

If you want to maintain a consistent state of happiness you need to first accept this reality and then commit to doing two things differently than other people:

  1. Enjoy the journey and the growth that comes from moving toward an objective, be it the corner office, a slim waistline, or a measure of charitable giving.
  2. When you reach the milestone of goal completion celebrate and quickly set the next goal. This part is key because it transforms tactical objectives into a strategic purpose. Having a personal mission and the wherewithal to see it through can be tremendously fulfilling. In the examples above it can transform a job into a career, turn a calorie count into a healthy lifestyle, and a spell the difference between making a donation and a real difference.

The secret to this is making the goal bigger than yourself…having a clear cut “because” or driving “why” that propels you to action. For example:

  • I want to obtain career success “because” it will enable me to give my kids the advantages I never had.
  • The reason “why” I skip desert and wake up at 5am to workout is that I’m aware of a history of heart disease in my family and I want to be around to bounce the grandkids on my knee.
  • I want to donate a meaningful portion of my time and discretionary income to this charity “because” I was once on the receiving end of this kindness and long to return the favor.

Admittedly this is no easy undertaking and often requires changing the way you view goal-setting. Don’t worry, you can still tick off your SMART goals to chase the basics, but if you want something more, something that leads to long-term happiness and the fulfillment of a personal or professional passion, you’ll have to think bigger. You can start by setting a BEST goal, one that goes beyond box-checking…one that allows you to become the person you were meant to be.

Need a career coach? Contact me via www.PlotlineLeadership.com.

Check out my latest book The HR Guide to Getting and Crushing Your Dream Job and follow me on Twitter at @timtoterhi or LinkedIn

 

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