The next intentional activity from The How of Happiness is committing to your goals. Recall from my earlier blog that it’s these intentional activities and habits that can account for as much as 40% of our happiness. The first intentional activity was expressing gratitude, the second was deliberate optimism, the third was to stop overthinking and comparing ourselves to others, the fourth was practicing acts of kindness, the fifth was social support, the sixth was coping with stress, the seventh was learning to forgive, the eight was increasing flow, and the ninth was savoring the positive.
I have to confess that although I consider myself very happy, I don’t consider myself a goal setter. I’m not sure why, but the fact that my MBTI type preference is INTP might have something to do with it. But I am big on commitment, and I personally derive more pleasure from the process of committing to a goal than from the accomplishment of the goal. Here are six reasons why that is true (pp. 206-208):
- Commitment to a goal provides a sense of purpose and control
- Making progress on meaningful goals can buttress our core self-evaluation
- Goal commitment adds structure and meaning to our daily lives. “It grants responsibilities, deadlines, timetables, opportunities for mastering new skills, and for social interaction” (p.207)
- It helps us to master the use of our time
- Commitment to a goal during times of crisis can compel us to examine our most important priorities and help us cope better with problems
- Commitment requires and builds community. Almost any goal you can think of will involve relationships with others to accomplish well, and the purposeful engagement with others is itself a source of pleasure.
Five years ago I was having a casual conversation with a colleague at work and he mentioned that he ran two marathons when he was in his forties. I don’t know what it was, but I decided then and there that if he could do it, so could I. I learned as much as I could about running, both through reading and by joining running groups. When I train for a marathon, every single day of my life for 18 weeks is somewhat ordered around my running. Sometimes my daily feedback says “well done!” and other times it is “that’s ok, be thankful for what you did today, there is always tomorrow.” I’ve run eight marathons and as many half-marathons in that time, had a blast, and made a lot of great new friends along the way. The pleasure is in the pursuit.
Work is a marathon, not a sprint. Stay healthy; if you get hurt you can’t finish. You WILL hit the wall, but remember, your preparation will get you through it. Pace yourself, and try to do those last six difficult miles even better than the first six. Enjoy the ride, and reach out and touch all those folks along the course that showed up to cheer you on.
And don’t forget to smile for the camera at the finish line.
About the Author: Bret L. Simmons
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- Goal Setting: A Few Anecdotal Observations. « Bret L. Simmons | August 14, 2009