July 22, 2022 | Barb Carr

SMART Goals to Happiness: Create a Sense of Direction

SMART happiness

Welcome to the second post in our monthly series, “The Psychology of Happiness,” (leading up to the Global TapRooT® Summit, April 26-28, 2023). Today, let’s talk about how to get SMART about achieving happiness through Eudaimonia. Aristotle used the term, Eudaimonia, to describe the highest good humans could strive toward – a life well-lived.

Eudaimonia is a type of happiness activity that takes a little effort to do but the road to achieving it includes knowing your goals and then focusing your skills on them. If you are reading this because you want to find a deeper purpose for your life, setting goals is one way to get there. The more goal-directed you become, the more inspired and purposeful you feel . . . and the happier you are.

So, how can you approach goal setting with ease to achieve Eudaimonia? By making your goals SMART.

SMART Goal Setting

In our 5-Day TapRooT® Advanced Root Cause Analysis Team Leader Training, we teach attendees how to use the SMARTER matrix. The SMARTER matrix helps incident investigators develop better corrective actions. We can use this same idea to develop personal goals to achieve happiness.

We’ll modify the acronym a little and use the following formula for creating SMART personal goals: Specific, Meaningful, Achievable, Realistic, and Time-bound, and take it even further by adding the “ER” to SMARTER: Evaluate and Re-adjust.

Here is how it’s done.

“S” – Get Specific

Without specifics, a goal is just a dream. Write down your goals and get as specific as possible. For example, research proves that getting outside every day in nature is good for our physical, emotional, spiritual and mental health. That’s a BIG happy boost to daily living in exchange for minimal effort! So initially, you might write this goal down, “I will spend more time outdoors.” But “more” is too general. Get specific. “I will spend 30 minutes outdoors every day.”

“M” – Meaningful

Remember, goals take effort. So how can you sustain the effort? By doing something that is meaningful to you. Do your goals match up with your core values? Are you firm on what your core values are? Take our 10-minute quiz and discover the foundation all your goals should spring from. Write your core values statement, make decisions based on it, and change the trajectory of your life for the better. (Do it!)

Smarter Goals

“A” – Achievable

Making a goal achievable is important to avoiding roadblocks that tempt you to abandon the goal. For example, in our “get outdoors more” goal, if you are pulling your car into the garage every night after work and not leaving the house again, you need to figure out how to make staying outside 30 minutes a day achievable. You might list some activities that make it acheivable like this, “I will read outdoors on the porch.” “I will walk the dog around the block instead of letting her out in the yard by herself,” “I will create a flowerbed to work in.” “I will shoot some hoops with the kids in the driveway.” (Notice how one good habit leads to other benefits like reading more, exercising with the dog, beautifying the home, time with the kids.)

“R” – Realistic

Is your goal in harmony with other aspects of your life? A goal like getting outdoors one-half hour a day is realistic for many of us, but what if your goal is to write a book and you have a day job, significant other, kids, pets, and a host of other responsibilities? Sometimes it’s important to keep a goal in mind but wait for life to offer a more realistic time frame, such as when the youngest goes to college or when you can reduce your full-time day job hours to part-time. Is the goal realistic for you at this time in your life? If not, can you make adjustments to make it realistic at some point?

“T” – Time-Bound

You are much more likely to achieve your goals if you put a deadline on them. “I will start working on my goal to get outdoors more on Monday. I will enjoy 30-minutes of outdoor time between 6 and 9 pm every weeknight, on Saturday mornings and Sunday afternoons.” Schedule time to pursue your goals in your calendar so they are a time-bound priority.

“E” – Evaluate

As you move toward your goal, make sure you take time to evaluate your progress. This is especially important for long-term goals. However, even small goals easily achieved in the short-term (like spending time outdoors) require consistency. If you are not evaluating if you are staying on track on a daily or weekly basis, goals are easily tossed aside and forgotten.

Adapt and Be Flexible

“R” – Re-adjust

You may find after a couple of months of pursuing a goal that it feels unmanageable. Don’t quit – re-adjust! Flexibility and adaptability are very important to helping you be successful. Don’t give up, find a different approach. Maybe getting out 30 minutes a day is too much initially. How about twenty minutes a day? How about ten? How about two weeknights and the weekends?

Keeping a notebook and making your personal goals SMART will ensure you stay on track and enjoy the happiness of success.

Eudaimonia is not a pain-free existence

I hope this post has prompted you to think of one or two goals you can start pursuing today. Achieving Eudaimonia does not mean you will achieve pain-free existence. Eudaimonia is also not the same thing as the pursuit of happiness so don’t feel like a failure for having a bad day. Happiness is elusive, and it ebbs and flows. Chasing it can create the opposite effect.

Eudaimonia, on the other hand, means trusting in our goals even though we may feel some discontent along the way. It is creating opportunities for happy moments. Hopefully, when we look back on our lives, we will find that our lives were, indeed, well-lived, and we enjoyed many happy memories from the effort we made to achieve SMARTER goals.

Now, how about a SMART plan to join me and my team at the beautiful Margaritaville Lake Resort, Lake Conroe-Houston, Texas, April 26-28, 2023? Also, learn more about the psychology of happiness by joining my keynote session at the 2023 Global TapRooT® Summit.

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