While writing Goal-Free Living, I commissioned a number of studies about goal-setting. One study analyzed satisfaction levels associated with goal achievement.
First, let’s start with those who do not achieve their goals.
The study found that 74% of individuals are disappointed when they do not achieve their goals. This is not surprising. Unfortunately, many people never achieve their goals. For example, 92% of Americans fail to fulfill their New Year’s Resolutions — the annual goal-setting ritual.
But what about those who are fortunate enough to achieve their goals? They must be happier. Right? Not necessarily.
The study found that 41% of Americans say that achieving their goals left them disillusioned. They were LESS happy. The reason appears to be that the sacrifice involved in achieving the goal did not justify the result.
I dug a bit deeper to find which segments of the population were most afflicted by this goal-settling dilemma. Here’s what I found.
46% of males who achieve their goals reported levels of dissatisfaction. Quite a bit higher than women who were at 37%.
The most dissatisfied? The wealthiest individuals who make over $75,000 per year. Over half of those individuals said that they were disillusioned and dissatisfied when they achieved their goals.
The above statistics were for “generic” goals: anything from weight loss to relationships, or vacations to career advancement. But what about money-oriented goals? Are people who achieve their financial goals happier? Not surprisingly, many are. But a significant number are not.
36% of those in the $50K – $75K income range who achieved their financial goals said that the money did not make them any happier. Even 25% of the poorest individuals (making under $25K) said that money did not make them happier.
So the next time you find yourself saying, “I will be happier when I achieve my goals,” remember, achieving your goals may not be the key to happiness. As publisher William Feather once said, “No man is a failure who is enjoying life.” And from my perspective, no one is a success who isn’t.