Setting Goals: 5 Action Steps to Happiness in 2021

Happiness in 2021

The drive to do an annual evaluation and set goals this time of year is a common desire. Who doesn’t want next year to be better? I mean, seriously, who wants another 2020?! The problem is that we usually focus on a list of things we want to accomplish. Although accomplishments can be goals, often they are just markers along the path to what we truly want. What is it that we want? Happiness! If we each dig deep enough into what we want and keep asking why until we can’t go any deeper, we’ll find that achieving happiness is the end goal.

The Roadmap to Happiness

One issue of achieving happiness is that the roadmap is not a straight line. There are lots of interchanges and offramps that can make you feel lost. Maslow’s hierarchy of needs is an excellent example of looking at the path and realizing what must come first. A March 2020 article on Simply Psychology gives a modern interpretation of the hierarchy and expands upon it. Right now, many of us are in survival mode, the survival of our business, finances, health, and family. It will require getting back to basics to surmount the challenges.

The foundation of the Maslow pyramid, Basic Needs, comprises two components, physiological and safety needs. I call these survival needs, which explains why we need to satisfy these lower-level needs before happiness pays a visit. The next section moving up the pyramid, after survival needs are psychological needs, and at the top are self-fulfillment needs. Happiness can make a cameo appearance while in basic needs, but that would require being at peace with circumstances and hopeful for the future. Happiness commonly makes a supporting actor appearance somewhere in the second section and becomes the superstar at the pyramid’s pinnacle.

I have found that keeping happiness as the end-goal and then taking a look at each life component that contributes to achieving happiness works best for getting onto the right path. Start by evaluating the quality of the following areas of focus:

  • Relational – relationships with everyone from self and partner/spouse to business and transactional.
  • Spiritual – connection to whatever source gives you hope and peace.
  • Physical – health, ability, fitness, appearance, and mental stability and acuity.
  • Financial – abundance, sense of thriving, independence, professional endeavors whether employed or not, and reserves.
  • Temporal – how you spend your time.

5 Action Steps

1. Identify what it will take in each area to achieve happiness, resulting in being happy generally. What does happiness in each area look like? What does it feel like? What are the metrics?

2. Identify your roadblocks. What keeps you from achieving your goals? Evaluate external roadblocks to determine whether you can surmount or circumvent them. Internally, we need to deal with a lack of motivation and self-sabotage. Remove the internal roadblocks by keeping your goals in front of you and by bulldozing beliefs that self-sabotage.

3. Keep your eyes on the goal – literally! Do whatever it takes to keep your goals front and center. I use a daily task in ToDoIst to read my affirmations every morning, accompanied by a photo gallery of images representing my goals. I also use a digital photo frame on my desk that’s motion-activated, shows the time, calendar, and a slide show of the same images I have in ToDoIst. Do whatever it takes! Put pictures around the house if that works for you.

4. Bulldoze beliefs that self-sabotage. Every time you tell yourself that you’re not good at or can’t do something, you build a belief that supports what was a random thought. We tend to treat our thoughts as facts. Self-sabotage comes from negative or unsupportive beliefs. Whether aware of the belief or not.  Replace negative beliefs with positive and supportive ones.  Upgrade your beliefs!

  • Identify empowering beliefs that replace those that sabotage.
  • See the validity of each, by rationalizing, and write it down. Use these as affirmations for daily review.
  • Demonstrate the belief – act as if and take action! Take baby steps. Make plans. Do research. Do what it takes to inform your mind that this is the direction you are heading.
  • Maintain positive thinking. I post Motivational Quotes to my website and each of my social media accounts every day. Here’s a link to them on Instagram, where you can see a bunch of them at once. If you’d like, I can also send Positive Thoughts to your inbox every day.

5. Create and use systems to help accomplish your goals. Outlook or Google Mail and Calendar have excellent capabilities to help you stay on track. Google and Microsoft offer additional services that help with goal achievement and project management. I have found the easiest to use is a free online app called ToDoIst, referenced earlier. All the basic features are free. I paid the $36/year to upgrade, which added some nice bells and whistles. ToDoIst is a well-designed app that tracks projects and tasks with areas to add notes, attachments, photos, and web links.

What will it take for you to be at your happiest next year? Identify what needs to change that’s within your control, see it happening, and take action steps. You’ve got this!

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Cheers to all for a happy, healthy, and successful 2021!