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Effects of Goals on Wellbeing

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The Psychology of Quality of Life

Part of the book series: Social Indicators Research Series ((SINS,volume 83))

Abstract

I discuss in this chapter the effects of goals on happiness, subjective wellbeing and positive mental health. The focus is on a variety of ways that people set their goals biased by goal valence (i.e., they set life goals that are high in positive valence). Goals with high positive valence can be set using meaningful goals, abstract goals, motivational goals, approach goals, goals associated with deprived needs, autonomous goals, and goals related to flow. They set goals that are likely to be met (high goal expectancy). They do so by choosing adaptable goals, goals that are congruent with cultural norms and personal motives and resources, goals that are realistic, and goals involving little or no role conflict. Also, they plan strategies and tactics that they execute to achieve their life goals. This is done by committing to goal attainment and persist goal pursuit in light of failure. Concrete thinking also plays an important role in goal implementation. Goal attainment results in increased levels of wellbeing and positive mental health. Goal attainment occurs through recognition of attainment and perception of progress.

“A person should set his goals as early as he can and devote all his energy and talent to getting there. With enough effort, he may achieve it. Or he may find something that is even more rewarding. But in the end, no matter what the outcome, he will know he has been alive.”

—Walt Disney (https://fairygodboss.com/career-topics/goals-quotes)

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Notes

  1. 1.

    See Kaftan and Freund (2018) for a recent discussion of how goal pursuit influences subjective wellbeing.

  2. 2.

    Some readers may feel offended reading this. The reaction is typically that this is male chauvinism par excellence. To those readers I do apologize. I support and sympathize with the feminist movement. However, having said this, there is some semblance of truth to this research. Cultural norms pertaining to gender identity are changing rapidly. Hence, this “reality” has to be qualified by making reference to the historical era, the country in question, the subcultural context, etc.

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Sirgy, M.J. (2021). Effects of Goals on Wellbeing. In: The Psychology of Quality of Life. Social Indicators Research Series, vol 83. Springer, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-71888-6_13

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