Goals are about more than just you living your best life.
(Though, make no mistake, having goals and plans ARE, in fact, really important to you living said best life.)
Goals, and the plans we make to achieve them, give structure and purpose to our everyday lives that is essential for us to feel good on a daily basis.
Many people drastically underestimate the importance of goals and plans to feeling good.
Humans have a hard time consistently feeling good if we’re not purposefully engaged in forward motion.
It doesn’t have to be a magnificent obsession or huge life goal— in fact, most goals aren’t.
But having daily goals and working toward them just tends to make people happier.
It lends structure and purpose to the day that a lot of people need when they’re feeling anxious or depressed.
When your entire emotional world is chaos thanks to intrusive PTSD symptomatology, daily goals give you something else to think about and help you stay grounded in the here and now (instead of the there-and-then).
A lot of people shy away from goal setting, because it’s often associated only with career goals.
They hear “goals,” and they immediately think of someone strategizing to get a promotion or become the “best” at what they do.
Those certainly are goals (though, in my experience, many people who set those goals struggle a little with the “plan” part of the equation— they like the idea of the destination, but the journey itself kind of intimidates them).
But the goals I’m talking about here usually aren’t that ambitious.
I tell my people to always set goals in terms of what they want to feel, instead of what they want to achieve.
After all, the only reason we EVER want to achieve ANYTHING, is because we think that achievement will help us FEEL a certain kind of way.
The on-the-ground goals that we visualize are kind of psychological stand-ins for those feeling states we’re chasing.
We stand a much better chance of feeling the things we want to feel, if we get explicit about the fact that it’s the feeling we’re chasing— not the goal itself.
So often, the subject of goals stirs up peoples’ feelings of doubt and inferiority about themselves.
We tend to associate “goals” with hyper-ambitious, super-aggressive, “Type A” personalities.
Believe me: we all need goals.
Even more than that: we all HAVE goals, whether we’re conscious and explicit about them or not.
At the very least, almost all humans share an overarching goal of moving away from what feels bad and moving toward what feels good.
(Yes, sometimes it gets complicated— some people experience “feeling bad” as a specific kind of “feeling good’— but I’m talking about the broad strokes here.)
Every action we take has purpose— it’s an attempt to nudge away from pain or closer to pleasure.
We may think we’ve opted out of the “goals” equation by just not thinking about it, but that’s not true. We are all goal-pursuing animals.
Why not take advantage of the fact that setting goals and working toward them actually feels good?
Get less intense with your goals. Less ambitious. Ease up on the throttle.
You’ll discover that less overwhelming, more realistically achievable goals can actually be enormously motivating.
And you’ll discover that everyday goal-setting can be a REALLY useful tool in that toolbox of coping skills you’re assembling.
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