old_Setting your goals

So let us begin our journey to happiness. At the very start of the journey, we should decide on “what exactly we want to achieve”. One normally does not start a journey without knowing where to go. Imagine turning up at the airport and the airline agent says, “Where do you want to go” and you say “I don’t really know”! In a similar way, it is good to think a little about what you want to achieve from this website. In psychological terms, “the things you want to achieve” can be called “goals”. It is important to have goals so that you can check your progress over time to see if you are achieving those goals. If you achieve your goals then you can feel good about it and set new goals to achieve. On the other hand, if you have not achieved your goals, you can see what changes you can make so that you will achieve those goals in the future. However, it is important to take care when deciding what your goals should be. Goals that are not chosen carefully may actually decrease your motivation to achieve them. But do not worry, as I will explain in a simple way, how you can choose appropriate goals.

One of the most important things when deciding on goals is to make sure that those goals are ones that you can realistically achieve in the time and other resources available to you. For an example, say you have suffered from unhappiness for decades. A probably unachievable goal is to say, “ over this weekend, I will sort out all my problems and by Monday I will be the happiest person on earth”. Then when Monday comes and you realise that you are nowhere near your goal, it will demoralise you and you may even give up the whole effort.

On the other hand, if you make goals that are realistically achievable, you are more likely to be successful in achieving them, making you feel that you are progressing. So in our example, perhaps a better goal than “I will the happiest person by Monday”, could be, for you to say, “this weekend I will aim to think less about myself and think more about my wife’s mental well being and will aim to surprise her with some flowers!” This is hopefully a much easier goal to achieve and when you accomplish it, you will feel good and a bit happier. Of course, there is more to happiness than just giving your partner some flowers! What I mean is, you do not need to achieve your final goal immediately. Instead, you can make small realistic goals, and then when you achieve them, you make new realistic goals, and move forwards. Eventually, you will reach your final goal, which in perhaps in our example will be happiness in your marriage. As another example, suppose you are someone who sits all day on a sofa and does not do any exercise. You then decide for your well being, to start daily physical exercises. An unrealistic goal might be “I will go to the gym everyday for three hours”. This initial goal is so high, you may not even get up from your sofa. Perhaps a more suitable goal might be, “to start with, for the next week, I will aim to walk for half an hour every day in the park”. Once you achieve that, you will feel good and will be motivated to make new goals, such as increasing your walking to one hour every day. Then when you achieve that, you might make another realistic goal, which at this point, might be to go to the gym for half an hour. It is very important to make your goals realistic. I have seen plenty of self-help books and websites that promise unrealistic goals, which while being nice to read, don’t really help you in real terms. A series of small realistic goals that you can achieve with the energy and time that you have will ultimately take you to your final goal.

When making goals, try to be as detailed as possible when describing your goals. For an example, the goal, “I want to be happy at work”, while nice, is not really detailed enough and is somewhat vague. What exactly do you mean by “happy at work” ? However, imagine that, in your work life, your anxiety is something that makes you unhappy. Then a better goal might be something more specific than “happy at work”, such as, “I want to be less anxious at work”. Suppose, at work, meeting your boss is what makes you really anxious. In that case, a better goal would be, “to be less anxious when I meet my boss”. When you make goals that are specific, it is easy for you to see if you have achieved those goals or not. So in our previous example, after a few weeks, you can easily check your goal of “to be not anxious when I meet my boss” by looking back at how you were when you recently met your boss. If you were calm before him, you can say to yourself, “I have achieved that goal!”. If not, you can then think, what can I do to improve the situation so that I can achieve the goal in the future.

So before you proceed in this website, do try and think of some simple goals that you hope to achieve.

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