My worst score on the archery range was the day I had no target.
My least satisfying year was when I had no goal.
It helps me refresh my outlook from time to time with the five basic modes of positive being. Observing them daily leads to flourishing and away from languishing. Use these five guidelines to shape your goal-setting for the new year.
- Progress towards Goals. Not only must we have goals, but we must
make progress towards achieving them. I have a friend whose goal for 15 years has been to write a book on leadership. He has made no progress, and that contributes to a sense of languishing. Write an outline for his book, and he would tilt the scale towards flourishing. A little progress from time to time is a wondrous thing. Jared Diamond calls it invention by creep (as opposed to leap)—incremental progress rather than all at once.
- Fit. Ensure that your goals require use of your strengths—goals that require use of your weaknesses and aversions invite procrastination, and sometimes they lead to health problems. A coaching client of mine aspired to be a plant manager—and made it, but he was introverted, kind, creative, and spontaneous. He had to suppress all his natural behaviors and be outgoing, tough, down to earth, and disciplined. He developed high blood pressure. I recommended to management that they move him from line management to a staff management position. They moved him to headquarters in Michigan as a VP for Research and Development, and his blood pressure smiled.
- Flow. Goals that require too little of you lead to boredom, while goals that require too much of you lead to frustration. Find ways to stay in flow by having goals that require a moderate stretch for you, and work on your skills and resources to stay on top of your goal requirements. At this moment, I am trying to integrate the Heath brothers’ (Dan and Chip wrote Made to Stick) guidelines for sticky language into this blog, which is keeping me from being bored by using new standards of writing on a topic that is second nature to me.
- Altruism. An apple a day keeps the doctor away, and a kind deed a day keeps languishing at bay. Ever notice the inner glow that follows an act of kindness?
- Relationships. Two guiding principles for nurturing important relationships: more positive emotional events than negative ones (attaboys/attagirls versus “you ignoramus”), and divvying up the onerous tasks so that one person in the relationship doesn’t get all the drudgery.
My book on happiness devotes a full chapter to each of these five modes of positive being. Observe them, and have a happy new year!