Goals are important in life. They motivate you to grow and reach higher potential and they provide deep satisfaction when they are accomplished. Much dissatisfaction and stress in life comes from unachieved goals.
To avoid this dissatisfaction and instead experience a sense of deep fulfillment, it is important to set the right type of goal.
In Positive Psychology, different types of goals are identified. There are 2 in particular I want to look at here. End-State Goals and Process Goals.
An End-State Goal, also known as an Outcome Goal, is a goal that, once it is achieved, no additional action is required. An example is “cut the grass” or “bike for 20 minutes”.
A Process Goal requires continuous action. This goal frames a standard that should be maintained. An example is “staying healthy”. The individual with this goal is required to continue to perform certain actions to stay healthy and reach the goal, such as eat well and exercise daily. There is an ongoing involvement of the individual.
Now, there is no right or wrong goal, but some goals are more effective than others in creating the desired change…you just have to know what you truly desire.
For example, an individual may decide that they want to "lose 20 pounds”, which is an end-state goal. While this may not be wrong, what they truly desire may be to keep a healthy body weight, which is a process goal. This process goal helps to create healthy actions that turn into healthy habits that achieve the desired change.
You might be thinking, “What of it?”
Well, let’s look at what happens when we have outcome goals where a process goal would be more appropriate.
Many of us live our lives pursuing the next end-state goal we think will make us happy, such as “finish school”, “get a job”, “get married”, “get promoted”, “have a kid”, “retire”. While these goals are not bad or wrong, they probably don’t deeply fulfill you because you never really get what you truly desire, evidenced by the constant pursuit of the next outcome goal to try to attain the same desired state: happiness.
Chasing the next thing, the next outcome goal, in order to be happy is tiring and discouraging and leaves you, ironically, unhappy because these are end-state goals and “staying or being happy” is a process goal.
(Alan Watts speaks to this point in this video, even though he doesn’t specifically mention “goals”.)
By setting “be happy” as your goal, you will take certain actions that turn into constructive habits that actually achieve the desired change, not its opposite.
What are these “certain actions?”
Well, I’m honestly not trying to keep these actions hidden from you, but this blog would be too long if I included them here. But we share them in our other blogs and in our coaching and trainings. If your (process) goal is to “be happy”, I encourage you to start one-on-one coaching with us so you can set in motion certain actions to achieve your goal…for real this time.
Here’s to conquering stress.
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