Whose Goals are You Chasing?

Updated: Dec 10, 2019


As the New Year approaches, many people begin setting New Year's resolutions. In addition to these goals people set for their new year, many also set short term and long term goals...5 year and 10 year plans. But the question is, are you setting healthy goals for yourself? Are they worth pursuing? People often spend many years pursuing and attaining goals only to find out that once achieved, the satisfaction is short lived, or that the goals really weren't worth pursuing in the first place. They realize too late, that chasing these goals didn't result in the happiness, satisfaction, or well being the goals had promised. Why is this?


All goals are NOT created equally. There are intrinsic goals and extrinsic goals, learning goals and performance goals, socially prescribed goals endorsed by society and social institutions, and then there are goals that are more in alignment with one's authentic selves. Many goals people pursue are extrinsic in nature, focused on outperforming others, or inconsistent with one's passions, interests, and authentic self. Thus, pursuing these goals may result in cognitive dissonance and unhappiness, burnout, and decreased psychological well being, even if they are achieved.


Whose goals are you chasing? Are they your own, or are they socially prescribed goals that you have exchanged for your own authentic goals? Are they intrinsic goals that deal more with developing close and reciprocally caring relationships with family, friends and community members? Do they help promote a sense of mastery and competence? Are the self chosen or are these goals feel coerced or pressured ? Or are they extrinsic goals--in other words, are they materialistic in nature--emphasizing fame, fortune, power, beauty, and popularity? really chasing the right kinds of goals?


Studies have repeatedly shown that the pursuit and even the attainment of extrinsic goals undermine motivation--they encourage a more extrinsic form of motivation rather than intrinsic motivation that is based on inherently enjoying the task or activity at hand. As such, pursuing these goals can lead to exhaustion and burnout but worse, these goal pursuits can undermine our psychological well being because they can conflict with satisfying our innate psychological needs.



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