The Most Satisfying Goals
Set a goal to feel good – but first know what that feels like.
Every good marketer knows that people don’t buy the products they sell. They buy how the product they sell makes them feel.
If you ask most people how they want to feel, they’ll say they want to feel “good.”
They want better health or improved relationships in order to feel good. They want more money because they think it will make them feel good.
What does good feel like?
The problem with wanting to feel “good” is that it’s vague and subjective. What feels good to me is probably different from what feels good to you.
For example, change feels good to me.
Change excites me. It activates new thinking in my brain and presents opportunities to learn and grow. When the outcome of something is uncertain, it feels adventurous. I become curious and resourceful. Change awakens me, keeps me from sleepwalking through life, and makes me feel alive and resilient.
For those reasons, change feels good to me.
I know that isn’t true for everyone.
A few years ago, I encountered a book called The Desire Map: A Guide to Creating Goals with Soul. The premise of the book is that everything we do — from what we eat, to how we dress, what vehicle we drive, and who we associate with — is motivated by a desire to feel a certain way.
The author suggests that if we can identify our core desired feelings (that is, the specific feelings that make us feel “good”), we can use them to guide our choices about how we spend our time, money, and energy.
Choosing experiences that allow us to feel our core desired feelings more frequently will help us feel good more often.
If I look back at what I wrote about change, there are several feelings I experience with it: adventurous, curious, resourceful, awakened, alive, and resilient.
I experience similar feelings when I travel. Not surprisingly, traveling — especially to new places — feels good to me.
A New Guidance System
To say that reading The Desire Map changed my life is an understatement.
Examining various areas of my life — relationships, lifestyle, spiritual, mental, physical, financial, professional — I explored how I wanted to feel in each. Some of the feelings I uncovered were surprising to me at first, but I was able to see overlap and patterns. From those, I identified four core desired feelings.
Once I zeroed in on these specific feelings, I was able to see why, even though I was successfully completing plans and achieving goals I set for myself, I didn’t necessarily feel good as a result.
It wasn’t that they were bad goals or faulty plans. They just weren’t producing the effects or feelings I desired deep down.
Two things happened when I began using my core desired feelings as a guide:
- It became easier to make decisions about how to use my time, money, and energy.
- I felt good more frequently.
Here’s an example of how it works.
I am blessed with a loving extended family who I enjoy spending time with. I also like to cook and entertain, so my home is often the site for our gatherings.
On the surface, when my family (who I like) comes over, and I’m able to cook and host them in my home (which I like), I should be setting myself up to feel good. Oftentimes, however, I felt flat and depleted after they left.
After identifying connected as one of my core desired feelings, I made a point to spend more time relating, listening, and connecting to my family when we were together, instead of spending the bulk of my time and energy cooking and attending to the details of hosting. I planned menus and took care of details before they arrived, so I could better connect with them while they were there.
It was a simple shift with a huge payoff.
The great thing about using your core desired feelings as a guide for how to spend your time and other resources is that it provides a decision-making framework that simplifies your choices and helps you declutter your mind.
Every yes you say is a no to something else.
When presented with different options, you can evaluate them based on whether they contribute to your feeling the way you want to feel.
This doesn’t mean you only do things that make you feel good, but you make your choices with more awareness and attention to feeling the way you want to more often.
The Gift of Attention
Sometimes the simple act of placing your attention on the way you want feel can help you generate the feeling, even if your outer circumstances haven’t changed.
When I walk outside, I typically listen to things that motivate me — a guided workout, a podcast, or other recordings. It’s not unusual for me to become so engrossed in what I’m listening to that I barely notice my surroundings.
With the awareness that feeling connected feels good to me, I consciously choose to shift my attention at times from the sound in my ears to the beauty of the sun rising in the distance or to the air dancing through the trees around me. By doing so, I feel more connected to spirit.
Sometimes I pay special attention to my breath or the different muscles in my body, noticing how they feel as I move, and I feel more connected to myself and to my physical body.
More isn’t better. Better is Better.
Awareness of the way you want to feel can also transform your spending habits.
It becomes easier to decide whether you’re wanting the feeling offered by the marketing geniuses – and if there’s another way to experience the same feeling without purchasing the product or experience being sold.
Spending shifts from a shotgun approach to one that is more targeted and effective.
You move from a general feeling of more is better to the realization that better is better.
The same awareness can be applied to what and how much you eat and drink, the clothes you wear, the people you spend your time with, and even where and how you live.
Your goals will also be more dialed in.
From a place of awareness, goal setting transforms from what feels like creating a massive to-do list (overwhelming) to an experience that is more intrinsically rewarding (inspiring).
By choosing projects with attention to the internal payoff — that is, how you want to feel when you complete them — you are in essence marketing to yourself.
You’ll be surprised how good you are at it, and how motivating your goals become.
Think about times in your life when you have felt “good,” and ask yourself why? What was it about the situation or experience that felt good? What else where you feeling at the time?
Start now to notice when you feel good. What is happening around you, and, more importantly, within you? What are you thinking, doing, or feeling that feels good? How can you generate a similar experience in other areas of your life?
The Good Life
It’s safe to say, we all want to live a good life, but good is vague and subjective.
Instead of relying on how your friends, family, or advertisers define good, do yourself a favor and discover what good feels like to you.
Then make it your goal to feel way that as often as possible.
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