Choosing goals that make us feel alive are what researchers in the field say are the ones we're most likely to keep. So how do we find, and set these goals? Martin Seligman, a positive psychology professor at the University of Pennsylvania calls this feeling of being fully alive "flourishing." In order to flourish, we need to cultivate five different elements of well-being. And believe it or not, reframing the idea of losing weight or exercising more can make them feel more like positive and exiting actions rather than something to be dreaded.
1. Positive Emotions. These can range from pleasure and comfort to enthusiasm and awe. Positive emotions can help turn threat-related responses (I can't possibly do that) into positive and optimistic thoughts (I have the resources to help me do this). Experiencing positive emotions in the midst of stress helps replenish resources that are typically depleted by stress, allowing people to keep up their normal roles and activities. Positive emotions also promote problem-solving and creative thinking. They broaden the scope of our attention and inspire novel thoughts and action which, over time, allows us to develop more skills and resources, according to authors Barbara Frederickson and Christine Branigan.
2. Engagement. This is when you are in a state of flow and time either seems to just stand still or passes in flash. You become completely absorbed the activity at hand. This is engagement. According to experts, this flow state seems to help our performance by holding our attention for an extended period of time. Experiencing this flow helps us to keep pursuing our goal. it is important, then, to approach your goals in a way that will maximize your chance of experiencing that flow state or engagement. Flow is most likely to occur when the challenge of what you are doing closely matches your level of skill. Example; if you want to write a novel but haven't ever written before, it might feel daunting to sit down and think about writing a few hundred pages. But, if you think about writing a short story first, it will get your "creative juices" flowing and who knows? That short story could turn into that best-selling novel you've dreamed about!
3. Relationships. The old saying, "Misery loves company" isn't altogether wrong. Camaraderie, or partnership, isn't just a powerful tool, it can be crucial when it comes to keeping you on track. There's a good deal of research that shows social support is an integral part of achieving our goals. Support from friends, family, and colleagues can help us overcome hurdles when we encounter them. When setting your goals or resolutions, think about how to strengthen your connections to others. If you need to, join a support group. Do whatever it takes to have at least one buddy who can talk you through all the challenges you are apt to encounter.
4. Meaning. This component is a little more-------- I take it to mean "a sense of belonging to, and serving, something that is greater than our self." Having a larger purpose than pursuing a goal just for yourself can make the challenges easier to negotiate. The end is always harder to accomplish than getting started....that's the easy part! I like to think of the end as a kind of a final exam. A few years ago, I wanted to lose a bit of weight. Losing the first little bit of weight was easy. It was even kind of fun. But after awhile, the weight wasn't coming off as easily and I was struggling to continue with my diet and exercise plan. To help me along, I didn't simply think of losing the weight for myself. I thought about how my weight loss might inspire my little brother Quigley to eat healthier and to enjoy physical activity more. Continuing with my diet and exercise plan became my final exam. It was my last big push to prove not only to me but to Quigley, Jr., that I could do this. And guess what? I passed with flying colors! And young Quigley now wants to become a personal chef and help others eat healthy when he grows up. It was a big win-win for both of us. As you set your goals, look for a larger purpose than doing it simply for yourself. Ask yourself this question, "Will my goal/resolution benefit the greater good of society?"
5. Accomplishment. The sense of accomplishment can feel overwhelming. Humans, and us frogs too, who have intrinsic motivation...to pursue a goal for its own sake...tend to exhibit more perseverance and resilience says patty O'Grady of the University of Tampa, Florida. Another study shows that people who pursue goals that either 'engage their natural interests or express their authentic personal values" more often achieve their goals than those who pursue goals that really don't interest them.
By pursuing goals that feed different aspects of our well-being we will have a far better chance of reaching our desired end-result. Think about the goals you want to achieve in 2018 and re-frame the ones that might need a little "sprucing up." How we see these goals, as something of interest to us and a benefit to others, will definitely work towards making them something we want to do rather than something we feel we should or need to do. And that's the key to accomplishing them.
Peace (and good luck!)