• Leila Ainge

Mood of the Nation

Updated: May 5, 2020

Tricky Goal setting and being content during the lockdown

YouGov has been tracking Britain’s Mood, since July 2019. We were generally happy as a nation pre COVID, and it is probably no surprise that we are reportedly less happy, feeling bored and frustrated during the Lockdown period.

Happiness is notoriously tricky to define and measure, our judgement of happiness is shaped by what we think, but there is confusion in our brain between what we experience and what we remember. This is explained brilliantly in ‘The riddle of experience vs memory'; in Daniel Kahneman’s TED talk

YouGov’s data is a poll, so the measure of happiness is based on the judgment of the people who are asked, or ‘subjective well-being’. Given that happiness is such a tricky thing to understand I looked at the other YouGov measures to see what trends there were.


Contentment dropped significantly in the week Lockdown was announced, a higher % drop than the happy mood which also plummeted, but our levels of contentment have very nearly recovered to pre COVID levels.

[Source YouGov]

So how is it that our measure of happiness and contentment can be so different, and how can we use this knowledge to support goal setting?

Here is what we know; Happiness is tricky. It is a huge and complex area, our general wellbeing is made up of many different feelings, factors and emotions.

A good habit to get into with goal setting is to focus on as set of outcomes you want to see, rather than a singular outcome, if you track one success; such as happiness, you place value on just one dimension of the journey.

Rather than thinking about what will make you happy? For example, ‘getting a promotion’ or ‘Running a marathon’ think about how you will thrive, what else will the promotion or the marathon give you as outcomes?

Exercise – The Cherry Pie Technique

Draw a circle and slice it up into the outcomes you have identified. In my example I am using the goal of setting up this Newsletter and the outcomes that are important to me. How can you measure these outcomes? Can you identify more outcomes?

Interested in learning more? Check out our Coaching cards number 6 and 7 free to download on our website

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