Monday Motivation

5 Elements of Goals to Make You Come Alive –

and the goals stick!

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Positive psychology “pioneer,” Martin Seligman of the University of Pennsylvania shares how to develop five different elements of wellbeing from positive emotions to a sense of meaning. The more elements a person experiences while pursuing his/her goal, the more likely he/she is to be consistent with it long term (regardless of the goal itself).

  • Positive Emotions

Positive emotions can help turn threat-related thoughts (‘There’s no way I can do this’) into optimistic thoughts (‘I have the resources to do this’).

— Christian Waugh, Wake Forest University

  • Engagement

Engagement is a state of flow. When a person is completely absorbed in an experience and time appears to stand still or pass by in a flash. Flow improves a person’s performance by helping his/her ability to focus on the task at hand for an extended period.

When the activity is difficult and takes a long time to achieve the goal, it helps to experience flow.

— Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, author of Flow

  • Relationships

There is a good deal of research that social support (the tangible, informational, or emotional help) we receive from others is an integral part of reaching one’s goals.

— Shelly Gable, U.C. Santa Barbara

  • Meaning

Meaning is to belong, and serve, to something that you believe is bigger than the self.  Reflect on whether your goal serves a larger purpose.

Research in psychology shows that meaning is a strong motivating factor.

— Evgeny Osin, Russia’s National Research University, Higher School of Economics

  • Accomplishment

When you think about why you are pursuing a goal, is your first thought of an intrinsic reward (for the self) or an extrinsic reward (for others or an outside entity)?

People who have intrinsic motivation, who pursue a goal for its own sake, tend to exhibit more perseverance and resilience

— Patty O’Grady, University of Tampa

People are most likely to be effective when they pursue goals that either engage their natural interests or express their authentic personal values.

— Kennon Sheldon, University of Missouri


Additional Resource

January 2018 Happiness Calendar



Benner, C. (2017). How to choose goals that make you come alive. Greater good magazine: Science-based insights for a meaningful life. doi: Accessed on January 6, 2017.



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