We can be aware of our emotions, and even, ideally, control them. But can we plan them?.. It seems beyond fantasy. How can we predict something that arises without our conscious participation? It turns out there is nothing difficult about it, if you have a special skill.
What’s wrong with the usual planning?
We are not able to directly influence the emergence of emotions. It’s a biological process, like digestion. But every emotion is a reaction to an event or action, and we can plan our actions. We can do things that are guaranteed to trigger certain experiences. In this way, we will also plan the emotions themselves.
We’re used to setting goals based on results. Get a diploma, buy a car, go on vacation to Paris. What emotions will we experience in the process of achieving these goals? In the usual picture of the world, it doesn’t matter. All that matters is what we get in the end. This is what habitual goal-setting looks like.
We all know that the goal must be specific, achievable, and motivating. Ready in advance that on the way to it, it is likely to encounter difficulties and limit ourselves in some way. But when we achieve it, we will finally experience positive emotions – joy, pleasure, pride.
We associate the achievement of goals with a sense of happiness
What if we don’t? What if we put a lot of effort into achieving the goal, but we don’t experience the expected emotions? For example, after months of training and dieting you will reach the desired weight, but neither become more confident nor happier? And continue to look for flaws in yourself? Or you will be promoted, but instead of the expected pride you will feel stress and will not be able to do what you liked in the last position.
We associate achieving goals with feeling happy. But usually the joy is not as strong as we expected and ends quickly. We set ourselves a new goal, raise the bar, and again expect to experience the emotions we wanted. And so it goes on endlessly.
In addition, more often than not, we don’t achieve what we were aiming for at all. If there are doubts and internal fears behind the goal, even if very desirable, then logic and willpower are unlikely to help overcome them. The brain will again and again find reasons why its achievement is dangerous for us. So sooner or later we will give up. And instead of joy we will get a feeling of guilt that we have not coped with the task.
Set goals or live with feeling?
Danielle Laporte, author of the book “Live with Feeling. How to set goals that are in your heart” came to the method of emotional planning by accident. On New Year’s Eve, she and her husband were writing the usual list of goals for the year, but realized that something was missing.
All the goals seemed fine, but they weren’t inspiring. Then, instead of writing down external goals, Daniella began discussing with her husband how they would like to feel about different areas of life.
It turned out that half of the goals didn’t bring the emotions they wanted to feel. And the emotions they wanted don’t necessarily have to come from just one way. For example, a vacation trip is important for new experiences, an opportunity to distract and spend time alone with a loved one. But if you can’t go to Paris yet, why not experience a more affordable joy by spending a weekend in a nearby city?
Danielle’s goals changed beyond recognition and no longer looked like a list of boring things to do. Each item was associated with pleasant emotions and filled with energy.
Take a course on emotions
Goal planning often takes us off the right track. We don’t hear our true desires and pursue what our parents want or what is considered prestigious in society. We focus on not being unhappy, and as a result we spend our lives striving for things that don’t make us happy.
We have to adhere to rigid time management and do unpleasant things that drain our energy and take away our motivation to move forward. We initially focus on the result, which can be frustrating.
Emotions work much more effectively than willpower.
That’s why emotional planning works so much better. We prioritize how we want to feel. Energetic, confident, free, happy. These are our true desires, which cannot be confused with someone else’s, they fill us with motivation and give us the strength to act. We see what we need to work on. And we concentrate on the process, which we control.
So, plan the emotions you want to experience, and based on them, make a list of tasks. To do this, answer two questions:
- What emotions do I want to fill the day, week, month, year with?;
- What do I need to do, get, buy, where do I go to feel what I have written down?
Each thing on the new list will give you energy and resources, and at the end of the year, you won’t just see check marks against your goals. You will feel the emotions you were striving for.
That doesn’t mean you’ll stop striving for more, getting a dose of joy from a cup of tea and your favorite book. But you will begin to hear your true desires, fulfill them, and do it with pleasure, not “through no fault of your own. You’ll have the strength to act and to easily accomplish things that previously seemed impossible. You will find that emotions work much more effectively than willpower.
Your life will change. There will be more pleasant and happy events. And it will be up to you to manage them.