Having the right goals – and eventually meeting those goals – is one of the true sources of happiness. With the right goals, every step you make towards progress will be a joy, setbacks will be a learning opportunity, and success will bring the satisfaction of knowing you achieved the version of yourself you wanted, regardless of what others are doing.
But knowing the right goals to strive for is highly individual. Popular goals like a good position at work, a perfect family, or wealth may be the right fit for you, yet they often are not. To make determining your goals still more challenging, many people do not know themselves well enough to be aware of what their goals should be.
Self Actualization with Psychotherapy
If choosing the right goals depends on understanding yourself, the first steps in the process are to get to know yourself and accept what you find. You cannot be someone that you are not, and trying to will only lead to a disconnect and unhappiness.
Self understanding and acceptance are important parts of psychotherapy, and there are multiple ways to work towards better self knowledge depending on the modality in use. These include:
- Mindfulness – The goal of mindfulness is to turn your awareness inward without judgment. It will connect you with your true self and build up a habit of focusing on your thoughts until you can consider each action in relation to your understanding of self.
- Focusing on Thoughts and Emotions – Rooting in CBT, checking in with the various thoughts, moods, and feelings you experience will help direct you to which parts of your experience are the most authentic.
- Handling Pressing Matters First – Another modality focuses on solving the most consuming matters in your life first, such as depression or anxiety, to provide space and the mental freedom for you to focus on longer term goals.
- Free Association – Another psychotherapy technique, free association is a brainstorming method that involves considering your response to different ideas to determine what fits best with your self understanding.
Psychotherapy will also give you the tools to turn your new understanding into self actualization, implementing goals that will help you reach the best version of yourself. As with building an understanding, there are different techniques for changing habits and thoughts, and the right psychotherapist will help you use the right tools based on who you are.