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Follow Your Dreams to Joy

Way #9: Find and pursue a goal.

“Your purpose in life is to find your purpose and give your whole heart and soul to it.”-Gautama Buddha

There are all different types of goals. There are long-term goals, short-term goals, straightforward goals, and dreamy childhood-inspired goals, just to categorize a few. It is important, and dare I say necessary, to have goals. Goals are what help keep us moving forward. They help to inspire change, growth, the acquisition of new knowledge and skills, and risk taking. Without goals, regardless of how big or small, simple or complex, or tangible or intangible, we simply would be aimlessly wandering through life. Having goals does not mean that you necessarily have a concrete life plan and that you are deciding in live life in a linear fashion. Goals are for free spirits, adventurers, and daydreamers too. Goals can change, adjust, and transform into totally different goals overtime. There are no rules; it is your life and your goals.

Hana Matt explains that studies have found that, “to move forward toward a new goal releases surges of dopamine. We get joy from dopamine when there is an effort made toward a goal and a reward received for the effort. The great dopamine feeling will entice you into doing what needs to be done. Happiness comes from the engaged process and meaningful activity of pursuing goals, not necessarily from achieving them. So, enjoy the process! Change your problems into aspirations or goals. Problems cause anxiety, stress, and tension. There are debilitating, as they deplete your energy. A goal creates enthusiasm. When you are working on a project, you become a different person; you are engaged, and energy is aroused. To find your goal, ask yourself, “What do I love to do? What matters to me? What am I interested in? Drawn to? Intrigued by?”

It might be helpful to make a list of the things that you have always wanted to do or learn, places that you’ve wanted to explore, and or feelings or a mindset that you’ve wanted to obtain. You don’t want to overwhelm yourself by trying to accomplish too much too quickly. Remember, it is about the journey, not just the end destination. This is something completely personal, and that you don’t have to share with anyone, if you don’t want to. Your first goal might be to take your dog for a beach walk every day after work for sunset, or to write a book of haikus, or to learn to meditate. A goal can be anything.

So, let’s get started! The first two steps are to pick a goal and make a commitment to it. Hana Matt suggests that you start with dedicating 10 minutes a day for 45 days to your new goal. This is sufficient time to gather information, define a realistic game plan, and start taking steps forward. It is not necessary to take huge leaps; make this a manageable and pleasurable process. This should be a steady effort. Each day you will feel a sense of accomplishment, a release of the joy hormone dopamine, and one step closer to achieving your goal. You are capable of accomplishing personal greatness!

“Whenever you want to achieve something, keep your eyes open, concentrate and make sure you know exactly what it is you want. No one can hit their target with their eyes closed.”-Paulo Coelho 

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