The Link Between Happiness And Goals

June marks the beginning of the summer, and often, a slower pace. The first part of the year is done and dusted, and we get a chance to rest from the frenetic pace of May, but also to reflect on how we’re tracking in the first part of the year.

As we prepare for Summer Fridays and trade heels for sandals, are you also checking in on yourself and those goals you set back in January? If you’re changing out your wardrobe and schedule, it’s worthwhile to take 30 minutes to assess your goals at the midway point of the year.

1. Center yourself

Grab your phone, notebook or vision board—whatever you created at the beginning of the year to capture your ideas for 2023, as well as anything you might have that has captured the work you’ve done so far (a journal, your calendar, etc.). Once you’re settled comfortably with this information and something to take notes on, take a big breath. Remember: nothing needs to be completed at this point, and wherever you are in the process is OK. The point of this exercise is to reflect and realign if necessary. So, whether you’ve accomplished everything or nothing on your list, you’re right where you’re supposed to be.

2. Be curious

Take a look at the goals you outlined for yourself and note any steps you took toward them. Let’s say your goal was to finally take that trip to Italy. Did you look at flights? Check out hotels? Make a Pinterest board of the Italian food you want to eat? Write that down! If your goal was to get promoted this year: did you have a conversation with your boss about your plans? Take on a new project? Speak up a meeting? Attend a networking event? Make a note!

If you realize you spent a lot of time in the first part of the year working on objectives that were not in the goals you outlined, write that down, too. Maybe someone in your family got sick and you had numerous caregiving responsibilities. Maybe a new (or old) client absorbed more of your time than you expected. Or maybe your friends talked you into a trip to Mexico! These are important elements, too.

3. Find your happiness

Once you have an idea of how you spent your January-May, go back through the list and reflect on each item to determine if you enjoyed them, they added value, or you did them because you felt you had to. Maybe you can use happy or sad face emoticons, different color highlighters, or make a separate list of the things you enjoyed. Choose a method that works for you.

4. Set yourself up for success

With this clear idea of the items that brought you joy, consider whether you need to revise your goals for the rest of the year. Don’t we want to focus our time and energy in the areas that bring us happiness? Maybe that means planning more trips close by, spending time with family, or taking on new projects. How can you edit your priorities for the second half of 2023 to include more activities that will bring you delight?

For those items on your list that don’t bring you joy, but you feel should still get done—say cleaning the garage, creating a meal plan each week or working toward that promotion— how can you approach them differently? Could you hire someone to organize your garage? Can you outsource the meal plan to your partner? Is there a way to gain the skills you need for a promotion by capitalizing on your strengths?

If none of these options excite you, ask yourself if these items really must happen this year. Consider whether you’re willing to spend time in ways that don’t make you happy, even if they’re for a good cause, and decide if they stay as a goal for the remainder of the year.

If your goals are shifting dramatically or there are significant barriers in your way, it may be worth going through this process each month for the remainder of the year, rather than waiting until the last days of 2023. This will allow you to better track your priorities—and ultimately, your happiness.

We’re more likely to make time for our goals and accomplish them if we enjoy them. Set yourself up for success by assessing the level of joy you can create, while also putting out an amount of energy that feels right. Because at the end of the day, it’s better to cultivate happiness in your life than check a few things off a list.