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Rod Webb

Glasstap Limited

Director and Co-Founder

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Are Goals, Success and Happiness Compatible?


We’re at that point in the year where a lot of goals fall by the wayside. We might already have missed at least one of those gym sessions we committed to five weeks ago, dry January might have become moist January and that cake, well it needed eating. (I’ve only got one slice of Christmas cake left, so I’m going to need a new excuse very soon!)

This got me wondering about the relationship between, goals, success and happiness and whether the three are always compatible companions.

Goals and Happiness:
Let’s look at the link between goals and happiness, for example. 

I always have goals. Even at the weekends, I have in my head a list of things I want to achieve. But, whilst I’ve achieved a lot of goals, my life is also littered with those that have been narrowly missed or missed by a gap about the size of space. 

One thing this has taught me is that goals only make me feel good if I achieve them. When I fail to achieve goals (often the ones my heart wasn’t really in, for one reason or another) the ‘rewards’ are too often guilt, disappointment, self-blame and a sense of failure – none of which are exactly conducive to happiness. 

Goals and Success:
So, what about the relationship between goals and success? I consider 2020 to be one of my most successful years ever, both professionally and personally, and yet, as a team we missed almost every goal we’d set ourselves in January. 

I consider it successful because, as a team, we demonstrated a commitment and resilience I’m proud of. We launched a whole new library of training materials for remote delivery. We introduced a 32-hour working week that has become a standard part of our contracts giving everyone a better work-life balance. And whilst we did take the offer of a bounce back loan as a precaution, we repaid that within the year. 

Outside of work, I stopped procrastinating over dreams of a life in France - and made it happen. 

So, perhaps, goals aren’t always the best measures of success? Of course, you could argue that we simply replaced one set of goals for others, and in some cases, this is true. Often though, we were simply responding to events in the moment.

Success and Happiness:
What about the link between success and happiness? Too often, I think, success is measured by the power of more; more money, more status, more possessions, more followers... So, it would seem natural to assume that having more will inevitably bring happiness. But, if I were to think about my own successes, none of those things I’ve listed are going to make the list. Success, for me, is measured in experiences and achievements. 

Things like training my young unhandled horse without ever using a whip or bit, or writing a short story that made me laugh out loud, even if I’m the only one. 

Professionally, I took the long way round to discover that, for me, success can’t be measured in monetary terms; childish dreams of becoming a millionaire hold no power. Instead, it’s about being able to successfully balance fulfilling, enjoyable home and work lives. And it’s about creating a business that has a positive impact on my family, the team, customers, charity and, hopefully, society.

Perhaps, as a society we tend to look at the relationship between success and happiness wrongly. Perhaps, in fact, happiness is one of the few true measures of success. 

My thinking has led me to the conclusion that goals aren’t always the only measure of success, and success doesn’t always mean happiness. 

So, what are your goals for 2022? Do they really reflect what success would look like to you? If you’re not sure, perhaps a good place to start is to think about what will bring happiness and fulfilment.

And even if you’ve established goals that really matter, perhaps you still need to give yourself permission to let go of any that become demoralising, which sap energy from more worthwhile pursuits or which become irrelevant or unachievable. 

Because, in the end, happiness and success might just come from your agility.   

If you’d like to help others explore goals and what success means - perhaps linking this to resilience - there is a lot of material in Trainers' Library designed to help you achieve that.

Author Profile Picture
Rod Webb

Director and Co-Founder

Read more from Rod Webb

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