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Goals … What Goals?

As part of Live Happy’s special series 90 Days to a Happier You, we’ve gathered experts from around the country with unbeatable advice about how we (and you!) can change habits and live better in 2016. Below is part one of Chris Libby’s ongoing blog series as he attempts to set goals with the help of coach Caroline Miller.

Drifting through life …

I have never really relied on goals to map out my life, and it has seemed to work out for me so far. I imagine a lot of people are just like me: believers in serendipity, too busy to stockpile feats for our lifetime highlight reels. Who has time for that? When I discussed this 90-day project with my wife, a goal-setting go-getter, she was puzzled that I don’t set goals for myself. “Every morning when I wake up I set my goals for the day,” she says. “What is the first thing that you do when you wake up in the morning?”

“Open my eyes,” I reply. And therein lies the problem. I need to look at goal setting from the right perspective. As Martin Seligman says in his book, Flourish, one of the key ingredients to a life well-lived is the accomplishment of great things for the sake of doing them. In his theory of well-being, my life aligns well with his PERMA acronym: I recognize my positive emotions; I try to fully engage in the activities that I enjoy; I have great relationships; and I look for meaning in everything I do. The one letter that has eluded me so far is the ‘A’ for achieving. Without the A, I just have PERM.

Self-reflection time

Yet, I have achieved things, right? Self-reflection time: I somehow convinced an amazing woman to spend the rest of her life with me; we have a great kid; I like my job as the section editor for an innovative magazine; I own a home, and so on. These extraordinary things just happened as I walked through my life without bothering to make plans. Now, when presented with this challenge, I find that there is a better way to live my life and improve my happiness at the same time.

My first step, find a coach. Caroline Miller, a Masters of Applied Positive Psychology grad, author of Creating Your Best Life and a world-renowned speaker/expert on goal setting agreed to work with me. Great! If anyone can help me with goals in my life (or lack thereof), it’s her. We connected by phone, and I immediately felt at ease telling a complete stranger about all the things I haven’t done. As we walked through Chris Libby’s Easygoing Guide to Life, we found that I may be a “be-er” and not a “do-er.” I live in the present, yet need to ensure I’m not limited by procrastination or fear. I’m a curious person who treats people fairly, but I am not much of a risk-taker and may not approach life with the greatest amount of enthusiasm. That’s fair, and I also don’t have the energy for a rebuttal. 

Kicked from my comfort zone

At Caroline’s suggestion, I took the Character Strengths survey from the VIA Institute on Character. The results were spot-on with what Caroline had told me about myself: humor, curiosity and kindness are among my top strengths, while bravery, zest for life and purpose showed up toward the bottom of my list. Man, no wonder she is so successful. What a reality check. It’s time to take a whiff of the smelling salts and get out of my comfort zone. So, at Caroline’s suggestion, for starters I’ll write an essay about a time when I believe I was at my best.

Over the next 90 days, I plan to turn myself into a bona fide goal-oriented guru, and by chronicling my journey here, I hope others can benefit as well. I am excited about this new adventure, and if the goal is to live my best life possible, then onward I must go!

Read Chris's second blog here, and his final blog here.

Chris Libby is the section editor at Live Happy.

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