The Science of Achieving Your GoalsNone By Caroline Adams Miller, MAPP
A few years ago, I went back to school to get a Master’s degree in Applied Positive Psychology at the University of Pennsylvania. Until that point, I’d been working as a professional coach setting goals with clients, but my knowledge on that subject was limited to what I could find in self-help books, which wasn’t much. At Penn, I learned that there is a science to goal-setting and goal pursuit, and even that there is a well-validated theory called “Goal Setting Theory.” I also learned that there is a scientific approach to goal-setting that we can all use to maximize our chances of success. In early 2009, I published the first evidence-based book on goal-setting and how it intersects with the science of well-being, Creating Your Best Life. In it, I wove together all of the research I had found on creating success and taught readers how to apply it to their own lives. Following are some of the most important tips I can pass along to get you going:
Goal Setting Strategy #1: Take Your Emotional Temperature
There is conclusive evidence that success in life flows from being happy first – we don’t get happier because we reach our goals, we reach our goals because we start in an emotionally flourishing place. If you are pessimistic, depressed or feel that the glass is always half-empty, find ways to deliberately intervene on your mood daily until you develop the habits of gratitude, mindfulness and savoring.
Goal Setting Strategy #2: Define Your Purpose
In Japan, the word for purpose is ikigai, or "that which I wake up for". Goals that align with your life's purpose are always easier to connect with and pursue when the going gets tough.
Goal Setting Strategy #3: Ask Yourself, “So what?”
Intrinsic goals are goals that we set for ourselves, and that no one else has set for us. I ask clients the “so what?” question when they share their goals with me because I’m trying to find out the meaning behind the goal, and why their lives will be more fulfilling if the goal is achieved. When we pursue paths that call us, we are happier both in the pursuit and accomplishment of those goals.
Goal Setting Strategy #4: Write Your 10-year Plan for Your Life
For three days, write for 20 minutes