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Improve Health and Happiness by Setting and Pursuing Goals

Goals Energize Us.

During my three years at the Simonton Cancer Center, we always impressed upon patients that energy is essential to healing and that the act of pursuing goals can be extremely energizing. Setting goals helps us conceptualize our reasons for living and get clarity on what gives our lives meaning and purpose. In terms of health, it is important to be able to wake up in the morning and look forward to spending the day pursuing a goal that is important to us.  For those of us living with chronic medical conditions, once we have a purpose for being, we are more motivated to do whatever it takes to get well. In other words, the will to live is strengthened by working toward something. The future and the present appear more positive when we set goals. Setting goals helps many people commit to engaging in healthy behaviors. Goals provide a sense of control over our lives and create environmental mastery rather than complacency. Going after what we want means we believe our lives have value. The single most important reason to have goals is that they help us to live with more aliveness, presence, and intentionality.

 Working toward personally valued goals improves health and happiness.

Research psychologist Laura King

O. Carl Simonton, M.D.

found that, after just a few weeks, people in her study who spent twenty minutes a day journaling about their most deeply held goals reported less depression and fewer medical complaints than people who spent twenty minutes a day simply recording the details of their daily lives in a diary. Although achieving the goal has its own benefits, the act of working toward it is what is most conducive to health.

Think of a time in your life when you lacked goals. How did you feel? Did you lack enthusiasm for life? Was your energy low? Compare that with a time in your life when you had passion to pursue a goal. I would love to hear about your experiences.


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