smilingMy favourite month of the year, May, is here!

Nature is beautifully blooming, the promises of the summer ahead leave an air of optimism and people are generally smiling and more friendly in the increasingly warm sunshine.

Whatever the first 4 months of the year have been like for you, May is a perfect time to stop and take stock.

Are you on track to what you hope to achieve and experience during 2015?

There’s still plenty of time to refocus or indeed to continue enjoying the productive path you’ve already started upon, before summer holidays and some R&R may be on the cards!

Which leads me to think about the compelling benefits of having and working towards a goal.

The fact that goal setting leads to greater results is well documented. Perhaps you’ve already heard that people who set goals are 10 times more likely to reach them, and hence are typically way more successful, than people who don’t explicitly set goals.

Goal setting can feel like a lot of effort, but for most, this fact is compelling enough to make it worth it!

The less well known benefit, but arguably the more important one, is the fact that goals also make us happy!

When it comes to our happiness levels, our genetic make up matter of course, and it may not surprise you to hear that it’s estimated to make up 50% of our happiness.

Indeed, I often hear things like ‘I’m just born negative minded, an over-thinker, a worrier, a glass half empty kind of person….’

For sure, you may have a tendency or preference to be careful, analytical or erring on the side of caution, but the truth is that when it comes to our happiness levels, we’re not just born one way or the other.

Because there’s a whole 50% left for us to influence!

Well, 10% of the remaining 50% is determined by our life circumstances – some of these will certainly not be in our control. However, some may, so make your choices wisely. Who you marry, where you work, who you hang out with….

And then there’s the final 40%, which is all made up of our intentional activities.

In other words, 40% is entirely within our grasp to make the most of through making deliberate choices rather than simply going with the flow, allowing our autopilot to entirely determine where and how we spend our time.

The tricky thing here can be that we have a tendency to act on autopilot around 90% of the time. This may of course prevent the intentional activities happening as effectively as they might. What’s more, if your habits (autopilot behaviour) are not positive and optimistic, not only may you not take a lot of deliberate action, but the actions you do take may not be adding up to a positive reality either.

So let’s stop and take a look at ourselves. Then ask yourself, do I take intentional positive steps towards a happier and more fulfilled life on a regular basis?

If your answer is no or not enough, goal setting is perhaps the most effective and the most straight forward way to achieve this and part of what makes up that whopping 40% figure is the fact that goals bring us a greater sense of interest & engagement, a sense of meaning and a sense of accomplishment.

What’s more, not only do achieving your goals bring happiness but simply working towards them has proven benefits too. In fact, 35% of people say that having a goal in itself increases satisfaction and self-esteem and working towards their goal makes them happier than actually achieving them.

This scenario results in a positive cycle as the happy boost we get from having a goal increases our levels of performance and hence, helps us achieve our goals! Which explains why goal focused people generally are happier, as well as more successful at work, in their relationships and in their health.

It’s also a good idea to stretch ourselves with our goals as the sense of satisfaction will be greater when the goal is achieved.

So go on, make deliberate decisions, aim high, set ambitious (but not unachievable) goals and enjoy the happiness, and success, that follows!

Here’s to a Happy May and a Happy You!

Make the Most of Your Happiness!

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