Q: People say we must find our passion in life and know the one thing to which we dedicate our life. Is that really necessary- to know one thing to dedicate our life to?
There is nothing absolutely right or wrong here. Individuals differ. For some, it could be a single goal /cause that overpowers everything else and to which they dedicate their lives; but for several others it could be a set ofvalued goals in one or more life domains.
Q: Do goals and pursuing goals really matter for wellbeing? What kind of goals help in promoting wellbeing?
As per research, goals ( and pursuit of goals) do contribute to wellbeing but it’s the nature of goals, motives of goal pursuit and the style ( what, why and how) that are most important.
By and large a goal / engagement is likely to facilitate wellbeing when:
- a) perceived as owned by self rather than seen as imposed explicitly/implicitly by others- (Its not always all/none but a matter of degree of personal conviction and reasons),
- b) driven by the desire for ”doing” and ”being” rather than ”having” more and more ( particularly having /acquiring materials)
- c) is in alignment with one’s deeply held values, is personally meaningful
- d) capitalizes on one’s strengths
- e) less influenced by the need to avoid something and more by the appeal inherent in approaching towards something
- f) which may help us fulfil our basic needs for experiencing a sense of mastery, autonomy/relatedness to some extent and in some ways..
- g) when achieving the end -point is not constantly set as a precondition for happiness- (I will feel happy if/when…) and when the process is meaningful to some extent
- h) when one is into some regular activities/engagements (not necessarily major goals) that go beyond self/close others
Now I do not mean that a single life goal /all these characteristics in one’s goals in an absolute sense are a must/a precondition for a sense of satisfaction/fulfillment!
It’s merely that these are some characteristics/processes if present to some extent in some of our goals / activities / meaningful engagements – can contribute to our sense of wellbeing in the long term!
Dr. Seema Mehrotra
Dept. of Clinical Psychology