Personalgoals may be defined as consciously articulated and personally importantobjectives that individuals pursue in their daily lives (Elliot, Sheldon, & Church,1997). Goals are based on cognitive representations of the self, which areinfluenced by fundamental psychological needs and norms of a culture.
A largebody of research has determined that successful goal pursuit predictswell-being (Klug & Maier, 2015). Positive psychology has made significantadvances in the understanding of well-being, yet agreement about the definitionand nature of well-being remains elusive (Synard & Gazzola, 2017). Currentconceptualizations of well-being arise from two perspectives: hedonic and eudaimonicapproach.
The hedonic approach defines well-being as a satisfactory lifefulfilled with positive emotions and without negative emotion (Anic &Toncic, 2013). The eudaimonic approach often labelled as psychologicalwell-being (PWB), defines well-being as living life in accordance with a “trueself,” including the experience of meaning and purpose in life and the fulfillmentof psychological needs. Specifically, a model of eudaimonia, often known as SDT,proposed three innate psychological needs to be essential for PWB- autonomy(feeling in control of one’s own choices), relatedness (feeling connected toothers and the social environment), and competence (feeling effective andskilled) (Smith, Ntoumanis, & Duda, 2007).
These three needs must besatisfied for individuals to experience healthy growth and development. Subsequently,self-determination theorists have determined that striving for intrinsic lifegoals which are concerned with fulfilling one’s innate psychological needs,such as personal growth is related to greater well-being and life satisfaction,while, prioritizing extrinsic life goals such as financial success is relatedto poorer well-being and stress (Yamaguchi & Halberstadt, 2012). Hence, thepursuit of intrinsic goals predicts adaptive psychological and behaviouraloutcomes relative to the pursuit of extrinsic goals (McLachlan & Hagger,2011). More importantly, individuals have different ideas of well-being whichcan be shaped by the combination of natural and social factors that make up a specificculture (Yi, Gore, & Kanagawa, 2014). Hence, it is important to identifywhich form of goals predicts well-being between cultures. Individualisticcultures emphasise the individual’s rights and freedom, hence individuals tendto pursue intrinsic goals (Ahuvia,2002). However, in collectivistic cultures, individuals hinge on socialrecognition and self-definition through others. Hence, they may pursueextrinsic goals.
Thus, research has proposed that individuals living inindividualistic countries are happier than those in collectivistic countries asthey pursue intrinsic goals. However, other researchers have proposed thatindividuals from collectivistic cultures are able to experience well-being andlife satisfaction if those goals reflect basic human needs (Lekes, Gingras,Philippe, Koestner, & Fang, 2010). For example, in poorer countries,individuals who strive for financial success tend to fall less with the extrinsicgoals and more with safety and physical health goals. Regardless, this view hasreceived little empirical scrutiny as the majority of goal studies supports thenotion that the contents of intrinsic goals, in contrast to the extrinsic ones,would predict psychological well-being (Ingrid, Majda, & Dubravka, 2009).
Ingeneral, goals that satisfy basic psychological needs will lead to enhancedpsychological health and well-being.