How to set “Happiness” Goals for a Life of Joy


We all set some kinds of goals, resolutions, wishes or dream projects in life at some point.  But are they really goals you love, or a list of “I have to do this whether I like it or not” types of goals?

The art and science is in how you develop them for yourself to create goals that contain happiness and passion in your life.   We’ve had some of the best scientists, doctors and all around fascinating people on our shows and so we’ve been able to take the “best of” their tips that we now use for ourselves.  These tips can help you to create real meaningful, deep goals that can bring you true inner happiness.  Because life really is about the journey and not just the destination, right?


Set The Mood

We like to carve out a specific amount of time away from distractions.  Light a candle, play some nice music or whatever it takes to center yourself so you can hear your own true inner voice.   Let your thoughts flow freely without editing to find your true core of feelings.

Prepare a stack of papers and pens to use.  Get creative to make it fun.  Here’s a sample list to help you focus on the basic categories you will need to write down.  The different steps you will follow and all the tips will follow below this chart.

Sample Chart:

Activity Feelings I Get From This Specifics/Times/Dates Calendar
  1. More time with family
Happiness, warmth, love, care Everyone home for dinner and breakfast, No phones at meal time, new adventure night every week Entered
  1. Meditation
Calm, warm, relaxed, focused Commit to every morning by getting up earlier to start the day Entered
  1. Gratitude
Happy, elated, joyful, positive Daily entries and/or review of gratitude journal each morning and night Entered




Step 1:  Reflect Kindly

Reflect back on your year or project and write down those things that worked well for you.  Think about all the good things that you’ve accomplished or did for others.  Write down all the good things you have done and the kudos you received from others.    Then next to each of these, write down the positive feelings you felt from each of these wonderful accomplishments.  You will be using this later as you move towards your new goals.



Step 2:  Letting Go

Now on a new sheet of paper, ask yourself which things you want to let go of from your past so you can move forward with a clean start.  It could be as simple as less time distracted on your computer/phone/Facebook, or the limiting beliefs you may have about yourself or others.  These are the things that make you feel “bad” or uneasy inside.

Once this is completed, take this list and symbolically get rid of it by tearing it up, burning it or crumpling it up and tossing it away.  Away from your current life and thoughts that you don’t want to carry forward any longer.  This can really work:  try it!

Step 3:  Building More Happiness

As you build this new list of goals, it’s important to keep in mind that of all the studies we’ve reviewed over the years contain some core items that count most as factors of happiness for everyone around the world:

  1. Relationships with friends, family and spouses including those at work.
  2. Gratitude for everything you DO have in your life.
  3. Living in the moment.
  4. Service to others.

As you move through the rest of these steps, keep these 4 principles in mind for your own life story.    You want to have more and more of these items in your life as part of your goals.

Writing your goals and linking them to how you “feel” is very important.  Look back at what you wrote down for step 1.  Take a cue from the things that made you feel good about yourself and add them into your new goals and add how you might increase those feelings daily.


Step 4:  Be Specific

As you write these new goals down be as specific as you can.  Take them all to the next level of the “how” will you do it and by what timeframe or time of day.  For instance, you may want more joy or happiness in life but be specific.  Does that mean to spend more time with family and friends?  Can you make an adventure day with your children or friends that you don’t already do?  Adding in more of what you do love can expand your sense of happiness overall.  It gives you something to also look forward to.  What can you do on a daily basis for yourself?

Again, focus on the basics as well.  The 4 sources of happiness we mentioned earlier do matter when you are thinking of building your list.

At the end of the list we like to take all the goals and make sure to calendar in the ones we can so that we see them every day.


Step 5:  Daily Pleasure Goals

Here’s where your daily gratitude can help.  Even on a tight budget there are things you can do to center yourself and appreciate what you do have around you.  It’s great to schedule in some times where you can write down the things you’re grateful for and to schedule some into your daily life.  As cliché as it sounds, a walk outside while really looking around you can up your happiness level as much as any antidepressant can.  This is proven by many studies.

Also ask yourself, what’s the little pleasure I have that I need to keep in my day every day?  Even if it’s as simple as that special cup of coffee, make sure to budget that in with time to actually enjoy it.

Step 6: Overall Health Goals

Here you will want to include your physical and mental well-being.  This goes beyond diet and exercise.   Think about activities that also give you movement and joy.  If you don’t feel you’re eating right, put in the actions to get a book on health or talk to a nutritionist or take a group cooking class if you like meeting new people.  Put some specifics on how you can start to look for information that works for you.

One thing that started us on our way came from Mariel Hemingway who told us to just at least start with your breakfast to make a change.  Start with a good solid green and berry shake each morning to get the right nutrition in to feed your body and your brain.  It’s helped us tremendously!   Then you can start on the other meals in your life to add in good nutrition to be your best.   Focusing on eating only whole, real foods will help you a lot.  Add in more vegetables every day.  It can also help your moods.

Studies have shown that eating right and getting in 20 minutes of activities per day can up your happiness quotient tremendously.   Find some ways that you can incorporate some fun into these activities too.

There are also the negative things that you know don’t make you feel so good like alcohol or toxic people.  Identify these and make a plan on how to limit them in your life.

Step 7:   Seek Peace Goals

Peace doesn’t come naturally to everyone and it’s something you need to seek out in your life for balance.   Bringing the scientists back in, it’s proven that meditation or prayer helps people to manage the today’s truckload of pressures and stress.  Also talking to others helps to take that load off.

As Dr. William Arroyo said on our show:  “Everyone experiences worry and anxiety, but if that’s your primary mood, then it’s probably excessive.  You might want to consult with a spouse, a partner, a trusted relative or member of your congregation or you may want to seek professional help.  A little bit of anxiety is normal and useful, but not to the degree where it interferes with your well-being.”

When we talked to Marianne Williamson about what she would advise to people that find it hard to fit in meditation she just said “It’s not hard when you think about the fact that those few minutes can set you up to have a lot of overall happiness then it’s worth it.”

You can look on our site under resources to find some free guided meditations you can try.  You may need to try a few to find one that resonates with you.  We love Transcendental Meditations which you can learn as well.

Step 8:  Relationship Goals

In order to increase your happiness within your relationships you have to get outside of your own idea of what that relationship needs.   Ask the people you want to be closer to about what a “good” friend, partner or spouse means to them.  Ask what kinds of things they do enjoy about you (or the ones they don’t if you can).   Sometimes we all feel we’re expressing our love and care the way the other person should understand.  Unfortunately that’s not always the case.

Communicating this way allows you to know what matters to them so you can keep this in mind for the future to increase the happiness levels of your relationships.  It’s important that you do the same.   If your husband feels that taking out the trash displays his love but you really need words, let him know in a kind and gentle way.  Be specific here too.


Step 9:  Accentuate the Positive Goals

A very interesting study we read talked about how the human mind has been programmed over the years to look out for danger.  All of us here are walking the earth because our ancestors were the smart ones that paid attention to those signals and survived.  The other ones that may have been calmer may have become a tiger’s meal.  So our brains are hard-wired to pay attention to anxiety and problem solve when there may not even be a problem.

We talk with our guests about “Neuroplasticity” which is the brain’s ability to re-program itself.  Here is where you can put some positive new pathways into your brain to overcome the natural tendencies many of us have to go to the negative.

Even in these tough times, there are things you can look at daily with gratitude to remind yourself that there are things to be thankful for all around us.   As Brian says, when feeling down and negative “just change that channel” in your mind to something positive.  Eventually the brain moves towards that positive feeling more and more!

A good step here would be to have a journal of “go to” gratitude statements that you can review and add to each day.


Step 10:  Service Goals

As mentioned earlier, service to others is a major source of happiness, proven in many studies.  So if you aren’t already volunteering, this is another reason for you to give it a try.   Donations are great, but volunteering your own time and talents are better for you and the recipient.

These days many are in need and it means so much to the people that are lonely.  You can brighten someone’s day much easier than you think.  Although it may seem like just another “to do” on your list of many things, we guarantee it will be worth your time and give you more happiness in return.

Step 11:  Review

Once you complete everything noting the feelings you get from them, make sure to calendar them so that you see the actions you need to take.  Also make a short list of everything that you can post somewhere so that you can see them daily and review your activities.

When making new decisions on things you need to do in your daily life, ask yourself if these new things fit into the way you want to feel overall.   This sometimes makes it easier to just say no to certain items that won’t give you any joy.

You’re never really done with these and that’s a good thing.  Plan to review and revise these as often as needed to keep your goals alive and to grow and make more happiness for yourself!


We hope you find these steps helpful and that they work for you in forming your new goals for a life that is more fulfilling with joy and happiness!  Let us know how it turns out for you too.


We’d like to thank a few of our guests here for sharing their best tips that we’ve put into this system:  Dr. William Arroyo, Mariel Hemingway, Marianne Williamson and my supportive husband and family for keeping me focused on what really matters!

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