Optimizing Your Goals

August 30, 2021

Franki Kung

For most of us, trying to accomplish our goals can be exhausting. Between finishing school, keeping in touch with friends, losing weight, learning a new language, or the hundreds of other things we might want to do -  it can feel like being pulled in many different directions.

With so many demands and only so much time and attention, it might seem like nothing ever gets done. And even when one goal is reached, three others get neglected in the meantime. In these situations, it's easy to feel helpless and discouraged. But before you give up on your goals altogether, consider a change in tactics.

An excellent place to start is trying to optimize your goals. When people have many things they are trying to pursue, research shows that people who find ways to optimize their pursuit are more satisfied and engaged with their goals. 

So, how do we optimize our goals?

Dante BrunoOne strategy is 'integration' - finding ways to achieve two conflicting goals at the same time. For example, suppose you want to have meaningful friendships and live a healthy lifestyle. In that case, you might typically pursue each separately by going out for pizza with your roommate and jogging alone the next day. Alternatively, you can ‘integrate’ these goals by working out with a group of friends. This lets you work towards both goals at once.

Not every goal can be integrated so neatly with another. This is where another strategy, prioritizing, comes in. Research recommends prioritizing goals with a higher value or chance of success to optimize them.

As you go through your week, try to think critically and creatively about how you might integrate and prioritize your goals. It could be the difference between giving up and pressing on.

Key Reference

Kung, F. Y. H., & Scholer, A. A. (2020). The pursuit of multiple goals. Social and Personality Psychology Compass14(1), 1–14. https://doi.org/10.1111/spc3.12509

Dante Bruno (B.S.) and Franki Kung (Ph.D)

Dante Bruno received his Bachelor of Science degree in Industrial Engineering from Purdue University in 2020. Since then, he has been working at Newell Brands in the Supply Chain Management Development Program and volunteering as a research assistant with Dr. Franki Kung in the Conflict and Mindset Collaboratory.

Dr. Franki Kung is an Assistant Professor of Industrial-Organizational Psychology and directs the Purdue's Conflict and Mindset Collaboratory at Purdue University. His interdisciplinary research generates knowledge to improve conflict management of individuals and organizations.

Visit this page to learn more about members of the Research Collaborative

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