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Can setting goals make you happier?

Many factors are known to be associated with psychological well-being. However, it is much less clear whether those factors actually cause well-being and, hence, whether there is any practical value in trying to manipulate those factors to increase well-being. The proposed study addresses both the theoretical and practical issues by testing the effectiveness of an empirically-derived, brief psychological intervention to increase well-being in a non-clinical, unselected sample. The intervention focused on developing goal setting and planning (GAP) skills, which are known to be linked to well-being, potentially have widespread effects, and are amenable to intervention. Within a quasi-experimental design, participants received three, 1-h, group sessions (Study 1) or completed the programme individually in their own time (Study 2). Those taking part in the intervention, both individually and in a group, showed significant increases in subjective well-being, compared to their respective control groups not receiving the intervention. The results provide preliminary support for the view that (a) goal setting and planning skills have a causal link to subjective well-being and (b) that such skills can be learned to enhance well-being.

Source: “Increasing well-being through teaching goal-setting and planning skills: results of a brief intervention” from Journal of Happiness Studies

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About Eric Barker