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In life, we all have goals that we want to achieve. These goals can be big or small, short-term or long-term. But regardless of their size or scope, our goals are important because they give us something to strive for. They provide us with a sense of purpose and direction, and they help us to stay motivated and focused. But what happens when our goals are challenged by circumstances? What if we experience setbacks or obstacles that make it seem impossible to achieve our goals? In these moments, it’s important to remember that our goals are still worth pursuing. Even if we have to adjust our timelines or change our strategies, we should never give up on our dreams.
There are many benefits to pursuing goals (Latham, 2004), even in the face of challenging circumstances. For one, setting and achieving goals can boost our self-esteem and confidence. When we accomplish something that we set our minds to, it gives us a sense of accomplishment and pride. This can lead to a more positive outlook on life and a greater sense of well-being. In addition, pursuing goals can help us to learn and grow. When we face challenges, we are forced to step outside of our comfort zones and develop new skills and abilities. This can make us more resilient and adaptable in the face of future challenges.
Finally, pursuing goals can help us to connect with others (Pineda & Lerner, 2006). When we share our goals with others, we can find support and encouragement. This can make the journey to achieving our goals more enjoyable and rewarding. Of course, there are no guarantees that we will achieve all of our goals. But if we keep trying and never give up, we are more likely to succeed. And even if we don’t achieve our goals in the end, we will still have gained valuable lessons and experiences along the way.
The Relationship Between Goals and Circumstances
The relationship between goals and circumstances is complex and ever-changing. On the one hand, our goals are shaped by our circumstances. The opportunities and challenges that we face in life influence the goals that we set for ourselves (Midgley et al., 2001). For example, someone who grows up in poverty may have different goals than someone who grows up in a wealthy family.
Let me open a small imaginary bracket here:
There is this hype that people learn to be bad from movies. And then they pursue bad goals. Someone who is socially, emotionally and in family matters is well mannered, cannot learn to be against the rule of law, democracy or human rights from films. So, if you observe carefully the stories of horror and action movies, you will see the following plots: In the old black and white movie the monster or the villain came from the outer space, from a different world. Then after the situation has changed and the villain came from our own world, from the cemeteries, from unfinished criminal cases, but it was already here, coming only from the past. Then the dramaturgy changes again and the story focus on the present, we now see that the villain is actually a family member. And finally, the dramaturgy changes again, only to see that the villain is actually the main character, he did it, which he only realises after researching his own past. And the point has an enlightening message, because it shows the atrocities of the modern world. And the message is that you must watch out what you do in the present, for in the future you may be held accountable of your actions!
On the other hand, our goals can also shape our circumstances (Chakraborty et al., 2017). When we set ambitious goals for ourselves, we are more likely to take action to make them a reality. This can lead to positive changes in our lives, such as better education, higher-paying jobs, and stronger relationships. Think of it! You are poor, disadvantaged and bullied today; you are tempted to be corrupt, to steal and play dirty games. Well don’t! Tomorrow can and will be better if you do not play your cards dirty.
In short, goals and circumstances are mutually reinforcing. Our goals help to create the circumstances that we need to achieve them, and our circumstances help to shape the goals that we set for ourselves.
The Role of Positive Psychology in Goal Pursuit
Positive psychology is the study of the strengths and virtues that enable individuals and communities to thrive. It has already made a significant contribution to our understanding of goal pursuit. One of the key insights of positive psychology is that our goals are more likely to be achieved if we focus on our strengths and virtues (Corbu et al., 2021). When we focus on our strengths, we are more likely to believe in ourselves and our ability to succeed. We are also more likely to take risks and persevere in the face of challenges. Of course, there are prices we will pay for being true to our nature, but in the end it’s worth it. In addition, positive psychology emphasizes the importance of having a positive outlook on life. When we have a positive outlook, we are more likely to see opportunities and possibilities. We are also more likely to be resilient in the face of setbacks.
The Importance of Health and Well-being
Finally, it is important to remember that our goals should be aligned with our health and well-being. If our goals are making us unhappy or stressed, then they are not worth pursuing. Instead, we should focus on setting goals that will make us feel good and that will contribute to our overall well-being. Do not work in a company that does not align with your values, do not take jobs that aren’t satisfying, fulfilment is not only for the very rich, remember.
In conclusion, goals are an important part of life. They give us something to strive for and they help us to stay motivated and focused, even if you need to hunker down to the grim basics and postpone the pursuit of good life until we feel safe again. But it is important to remember that our goals are not always easy to achieve. We will face challenges and obstacles along the way. But if we keep trying and never give up, we are more likely to succeed. And even if we don’t achieve our goals in the end, we will still have gained valuable lessons and experiences along the way.
Chakraborty, A., Singh, M. P., & Roy, M. (2017). A study of goal frames shaping pro-environmental behaviour in university students. International Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education, 18(7). https://doi.org/10.1108/IJSHE-10-2016-0185
Corbu, A., Peláez Zuberbühler, M. J., & Salanova, M. (2021). Positive Psychology Micro-Coaching Intervention: Effects on Psychological Capital and Goal-Related Self-Efficacy. Frontiers in Psychology, 12. https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2021.566293
Latham, G. P. (2004). The motivational benefits of goal-setting. In Academy of Management Executive (Vol. 18, Issue 4). https://doi.org/10.5465/AME.2004.15268727
Midgley, C., Kaplan, A., & Middleton, M. (2001). Performance-approach goals: Good for what, for whom, under what circumstances, and at what cost? Journal of Educational Psychology, 93(1). https://doi.org/10.1037/0022-0618.104.22.168
Pineda, R. C., & Lerner, L. D. (2006). Goal attainment, satisfaction and learning from teamwork. Team Performance Management, 12(5–6). https://doi.org/10.1108/13527590610687938