Why Getting Your Goals Doesn't Make You Happy, And What You Can Do About It
I have been goal-oriented my entire life. I am not sure if it was innate or something I learned from my father, because he has always been goal-oriented too. For as long as I can remember I would set goals, achieve them, then try to set even loftier goals. I would set physical goals, spiritual/emotional goals, financial goals, you name it I would set a goal about every aspect of my life. I was under the illusion that if I set and achieved goals that it would make me happy. It is no wonder there were times when I went full out going after bigger and bigger goals or many goals at a time where I would find myself not only exhausted, but totally unenthused about what I had done after I achieved them. Interestingly enough I never questioned why I was exhausted and why I was never happy. For instance, I would literally train for months to compete in a triathlon, run over the finish line, have a moment of satisfaction, then go home and look for the next race to train for. Am I alone here? As I am writing this I am thinking how insane this sounds!
I am now 48 years old and it has taken me until just last week to realize what the let-down is all about, not for the lack of things in my life all pointing to it. A prime example is, I used to be a property manager for the very well to do (multi-millionaires and billionaires) and when people would ask me about my clientele the first thing I would say is that they are some of the most miserable people I have ever met. I would think and tell people that they have the money to spend all day long, every day, doing whatever they want, how could they be so unhappy? What the let-down is about is thinking that by setting and achieving goals that it would make me happy. Isn’t that what all the gurus and high-powered business people teach? At least that is the message that I have gotten all these years. Set goals and go after “stuff” (money, cars, the house, the job) and then you will be happy. Isn’t that what everyone wants, the “stuff”? Isn’t it the “stuff” that makes you happy? Isn’t that what all advertising is trying to sell, good looks + material things = happiness? The epiphany I came to is that it isn’t the “stuff” that makes you happy or helps you find joy, as cliché as this sounds. Stick with me here, the meaty part is coming!
What I realized is that all setting goals was doing was delaying happiness, because I thought the achievement of the goal was what was going to make me happy, so I would put off being happy until I got the goal. Or maybe even more so I equated goal achievement as happiness. What was happening was that I would go after what I thought I wanted and when I got it happiness wasn’t there. This got me to start searching for what creates happiness. Come to find out what creates happiness is inside each one of us now, we are responsible for creating it for ourselves and happiness is not attached to goals at all! For some this may sound scary or daunting, but I actually think this is empowering. Taking personal responsibility for the creation of all that is in my life is what I call exciting. Some may feel that this type of total responsibility is anxiety producing, but when you think about it, anxiety and excitement have very similar experiences physically (very different results emotionally), so I choose to call all anxiety excitement and grit my teeth into a smile.
I have learned recently that some folks say that happy and joy are two different things. According to what I have read happy is a feeling that you get from a specific event that is short lived and external (Ex. your dog greeting you at the door happy to see you, tail wagging) and joy comes from a deeper level that you tap into when you are realizing yourself (Ex. when you are truly doing your life’s purpose). Sounds pretty heady, and it is. I think that it can be whatever you want it to be. For the purposes of this article they are one in the same as they are both high-vibration energies that we can all use a lot more of in our lives and I think most people have an easier time relating to the word happy, rather than joy.
The next question that I am guessing you are wondering is how to get happiness, create joy. Well, there are a lot of ideas out there and I had been searching for a long time until I finally found what worked for me. I am sure there are other ways to find happiness, this is just how I found it. It started with learning how to visualize a certain way.
Before you get started on visualizing it helps to get clear on what you are wanting to create in your life. Suggestions for areas to create in would be relationships (romantic or friendship), career or business, health, abundance, happiness and joy, less stress, less anxiety, finding purpose, your children, any area that matters to you. Once you have decided the area or areas that you would like to create in you can begin visualizing. The visualization technique I was taught that I follow everyday has these components:
-do it once a day for 5-10 minutes in an uninterrupted space
-create all possible details-this is for the purpose of feeling the emotions of what it would be like to have what you say you want without being attached to how it is created (detachment to how whatever you want is manifested allows the Universe to find the quickest possible route)
-visualize the end results, not the journey to or how you will achieve your desires (if you release the ideas of how it is possible the Universe will provide, it may not look like you thought)
-put yourself in the visualization (be in the “movie” so you can actually see yourself living the life you want to live)
What I found from doing visualizations every day in this way was that I began my day seeing myself living the life of my dreams. I saw all the things, people and events that I wanted and felt what it would be like to have loving, caring relationships, have my financial needs met, living in the beautiful house, being an incredible parent, spending quality time with my children, having balance in work and personal relationships, helping people, driving my dream car and living my purpose in my career. It makes perfect sense that if you started every day experiencing everything that you want that it would be a great way to start the day, right? At the end of my visualization I put my hands together, as if in prayer, and I do a quick visualization of all the people in my life that I am grateful for and express my gratitude. I find starting my day this way exhilarating!
Now, you are probably thinking that what I am saying is don’t have goals? Well, nothing could be further from the truth. I do believe that having goals gives us purpose and meaning and without having aspirations life would seem stagnant. What I am proposing is that you stop delaying happiness for when you achieve the goals and live happiness now. And, because there is less pressure on the goals to create your happiness, the goals should come with ease. I live each day in joy of nature, people, and events and do everything from inspiration, which incidentally makes everything I do not seem like work!
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