THE BLOG
01/22/2016 04:19 pm ET Updated Jan 22, 2017

Make Happiness Your Goal for 2016

Why is it that we're always trying to "fix" ourselves at the beginning of each year? Declaring that things will be different, that we'll suddenly become better human beings. As if we're somehow flawed and might finally redeem ourselves.

For those of us that suffer from perfectionist tendencies, it's as if the New Year seems to be the ideal breeding ground for our low self-esteem and inherent self-hatred, giving us permission to beat ourselves up under the guise of self-improvement.

But what if we did things differently this year? What if we dropped the struggle to be perfect and impress others? What if we just made happiness our goal? To let happiness guide us in making every decision and setting every priority.

Isn't that the truest nature and purpose of goals anyway? To enhance our well-being, satisfaction and overall happiness. If we don't believe reaching a goal will make us happier or more satisfied, why go through the trouble?

Of course, most of us are so caught up in the materialistic, ego-driven rat-race of modern society that we've lost touch with what brings us happiness. We keep climbing the corporate ladder, acquiring more things and utterly exhausting ourselves, all the while feeling an uneasy amount of discontentment and secretly wondering why something feels missing.

Does happiness even exist? And, if so, where do we find it?

Having diligently sought after this hidden gem in every possible place I could imagine, I eventually stumbled upon it in the unlikeliest of places... my heart. Like so many others, I had long ago sworn off feeling my emotions. This was new, uncomfortable and scary territory!

For those of us that accomplished most of our achievements through reasoning, logic and hard work, the thought of connecting with our soul and trusting our intuition might seem ridiculous, juvenile or even impossible. But what I learned while spending time with my emotions was that happiness can only be derived from fulfilling our soul's deepest desires. Without learning to tap into what brings us true meaning and happiness in our lives, we can't set the right goals for ourselves in the first place.

If we want to get clear on what will bring us happiness, we have to be honest and uncover the true motivation behind each of our apparent goals. If we say we want to lose weight, drop a bad habit, make more money or get more clients, we have to ask ourselves why. Why do we want to achieve that goal?

Most of us are inclined to think about this question from a logical perspective and provide a reasoned justification. But this isn't to prove our case to others, it's to get clear for ourselves. And the only way to do that is by being emotionally connected to how we really feel.

For example:

If you're wanting to lose weight, are you focused on health or good looks? Do you want to feel better in your body or do you want others to be attracted to you or perhaps even jealous of you?

If you're wanting to drop a bad habit, is it because it's unmanageable and impacting your daily life or because you're embarrassed by it or it bothers others and you want their approval?

If you're wanting more clients or money, is it because you want prestige, financial security, a new home (or vacation home), savings, retirement or something else?

The answer will be different for everyone - and there's no judgment as to each person's why. But if we're not being honest with ourselves, how can we possibly expect to reach some heightened state of happiness? Truth never arises from disillusions.

When we're honest with ourselves, one of two things will happen. Either clarity will guide us to change or redefine our goals to something that's more fulfilling or it will help us tap into the motivation and drive we'll need to actually reach our goals. Without clarity, however, we're most likely just chasing goals that will further lead us down the road of malcontent despite our outward appearance of success.

So let's resolve to make happiness our primary goal for 2016. If we do, every other goal will fall right into place. And we'll get the luxury of experiencing more satisfaction and meaning along the way.

Heather Hubbard is the founder of The Language of Joy and creator of Goals Re-Imagined. If you're ready to set goals that offer more meaning and fulfillment, sign up for her free online workshop.