Personal Goal Setting Essay

This feedback helps us adjust our behavior accordingly (and when it’s rewarding feedback, our brains release dopamine, e.g. By allowing for feedback, goals let us align or re-align our behaviors, keeping us on track with our eyes on the prize.

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But at the end of the day, evidence also shows that the content of our goals may be less important to our well-being than our reasons for pursuing them.

Having the ‘right’ reason for goal pursuit—irrespective of the aspiration itself, that is—has been found to contribute to our well-being, and the opposite applies (Carver & Baird, 1998).

Let’s assume, therefore, that Jamie wants to set goals based on her passion – teaching.

Inherently, life goals need to be meaningful, and meaning is subjective.

As you may have seen elsewhere in our goal-setting articles, positive psychologists tend to draw on (at least) four main findings from his original work and the literature that followed (Locke & Latham, 2002; 2006).

We can then take a ‘nice idea’ and create some examples of setting goals from it.Charting a course for ourselves is one thing, but using our strengths to get there comes with a whole set of other benefits.Studies show that knowing and leveraging our strengths can increase our confidence (Crabtree 2002), boost our engagement (Sorensen, 2014), and even promote feelings of good health and life satisfaction (Proyer et al., 2013).Whether you’ve got no clue what you want, or you have a mile-long bucket list, hopefully, there will be something in here to get you motivated. Unlike daily routines or short-term objectives, they drive our behaviors over the long run.There’s no single psychological definition for them, and they aren’t strictly a clinical construct, but they help us determine what we want to experience in terms of our values.These satisfy the needs that stem from being human—including our psychological and self-fulfillment needs, as shown below in Maslow’s Hierarchy (1943).Source: Mac Leod (2018) Life goals based on the former might include: , for one, has many more examples that you’ll hopefully find useful.Of course, there are limitations to the generalizability of this finding—simply setting goals won’t drive the actions that lead us to success.We’ll look at this shortly, but for now, suffice to say that they give us something to commit to.And because they are personal ambitions, they can take many different forms.But they give us a sense of direction and make us accountable as we strive for happiness and well-being—for our best possible lives. We know what makes us happy, what we’d love to try out, and we may have a vague idea of how we’d go about it.


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