As you consider any habits or unhealthy behavior you want to work on this New Year, there are two questions to ask yourself before making any resolutions:

First, why do you want to reach your resolution?

What’s the purpose you want to lose weight, quite smoking, or give up caffeine?

I imagine you believe it will make you happier and more fulfilled. For many people, enhancing our well-being is a major reason we make lifestyle changes.

Secondly, what’s going to help you follow through and achieve your goals?

Positive psychology can offer us some insight and a potential solution to both of these questions.

Pleasure, engagement, and meaning have been show to be unique predictors of well-being.

Pursuing pleasure by experiencing frequent positive emotions has been shown to increase well-being.

Engagement can be seen when we are absorbed and engrossed in a challenging activity that takes our full focus and attention. This ‘flow’ experience has been shown to enhance well-being.

As well, when our life is experienced as purposeful, significant, and meaningful it can promote well-being.

These are three distinct pathways to happiness that all offer benefits. Though, when it comes to achieving success and reaching our goals they may have different implications.

The process of achieving your goals will not always be pleasurable. In fact it may be quite difficult and tedious.

Achieving your goals and having pleasure and enjoyment are two different things.

So, when setting goals this year, make them meaningful and engaging, and be prepared that the pursuit will not necessarily be very fun.

Set goals that are challenging and that you are interested in. Be willing to stretch your skills and further develop your talents.

Set goals that help you build relationships and that give you a sense of purpose and value.

According to an article in The Journal of Positive Psychology (2010), “Engagement and meaning are also related to a host of other positive psychological concepts, such as enhanced self-efficacy, mastery, and social connections.”

When your goals are meaningful and engaging they will likely bolster your internal drive and sense of confidence, and they just might enhance your well-being.

Meaning and engagement will not only help you to be happier, but may even provide you some support in achieving your goals.

Photo credit: krystian_o


Schueller, S. M. & Seligman, M. E. P. (2010). Pursuit of pleasure, engagement, and meaning: Relationship to subjective and objective measures of well-being. The Journal of Positive Psychology, 5 (4), 253-263.



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APA Reference
Wilner, J. (2011). Make Your Goals Engaging and Meaningful this New Year. Psych Central. Retrieved on March 31, 2015, from



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