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Happiness comes from setting goals?

”The secret of your future is hidden in your daily routine.”


A couple of days ago I read an interesting article in the Finnish newspaper Helsingin Sanomat – ”Onni tulee tavoitteista.” (Roughly translated; Happiness comes from goals.) The article is an interview with 40 year old Satu Pihlaja, a Finnish psychotherapist. At the moment she is working on a dissertation, while studying two other degrees and operating a privat clinic as a psychotherapist. In her spare time she practices yoga, sings in a rock band and spends time with her friends. (How many hours does she have during a day?!)

Setting and accomplishing goals is, however, possible for every single one of us. It can be regarded as a characteristic that can be taught. 

Satu Pihlaja does not regard herself as a ”doer”. During her teenage years she started to ask herself why she didn’t have any goals. She realized how dissatisfying it was to start studying the night before an exam. It was when she applied for the university that she understood that she won’t be accepted by chance; it requires clear goal setting and action.

According to Pihlaja, many people are afraid of setting both short and long term goals. Goal setting is avoided because one is afraid of failure, and scared to let oneself down if the goals aren’t  achieved.

”A lot of people want to quit smoking, start to eat healthier, or maybe there is a wish to expand one’s social life. However, nothing will be accomplished, if one continues to neglect setting clear goals”, Pihlaja explains.

Things not working out the way you planned is not failure. You learn from everything you go through in life. Regret, however, is a feeling that should be avoided at all costs. Be courageous. Take action. In the end it’s all up to you.


Setting a goal brings happiness


The purpose behind goal setting is to bring more happiness into life. This is done in four different ways, according to Pihlaja. Firstly, it helps us focus on the things that are important to us, in other words it helps us draw attention away from things that are irrelevant. Secondly, setting goals makes us feel alive and energetic and helps us strive for the things we wish to accomplish. Moreover, it helps us become more enduring and patient. And last but not least, goal setting makes us look for, and create, strategies in order to achieve the desired goals. Do understand that happiness is not achieved solely by achieving the goal, but through carrying out, and putting into action, one’s potential, skills and talents.


The first step is the hardest step


The hardest part is usually the decision to start. The goal might seem too big and totally out of reach, however, one should bear in mind that we’ve all been beginners. Even Bill Gates started from somewhere. We might have difficulties visualizing the end result when we’re confused where to begin. That is why it’s so important to have a detailed and precise plan written down. During those days when nothing seem to go your way it might be helpful to have an actual plan to stick to. Sometimes things don’t go as planned, simply because there is a greater plan for you, a different solution you neglected at first. Stay open-minded, and try not to become to attached to your plan.


Make it fun


It’s crucial that you don’t forget to have fun while working towards your goals. Most likely it will be a lot easier to achieve your goals if you’re enjoying what you’re doing. According to Pihlaja, striving for a well-balanced, good mood is important; tasks will become more effortless if you’re feeling motivated and inspiring. Personally I try to make the best out of every situation. At the moment I’m studying for an entrance exam. I try to make the whole process more enjoyable since it’s been a while since I studied. The book is rather comprehensive and monotonous, however, I’ve decided to give it a go. I’ve noticed how good it is to have different kinds of project to keep myself busy, and to be honest I actually enjoy having my nose in a book. Nerd.


Release stress


”Too much stress can be detrimental to our problem solving skill, and in some cases people might drastically make decisions, such as quitting their jobs or divorce from their spouse,” says Pihlaja.

According to Pihlaja, stress is first and foremost a feeling. It’s a feeling that usually arises from knowing that too much time is spent on unnecessary things. However, every one of us has the power to choose our feelings and actions. Time management is crucial. You choose where to put your focus, you choose what actions need to be done. In the end it’s all up to you – it’s your goal, it’s your life. You decide how your journey will unfold. Everyone is capable of achieving their dreams. Everyone can set and accomplish goals. Not only a select few is fortunate to live their dream life.





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