Goal Setting and Purposeabracad, · Categories: purpose, self help
Here is the test to find whether your mission on Earth is finished: if you're alive, it isn't. Richard Bach
Purpose and Goals
Life can be likened to a journey, with its purpose corresponding to the destination. The sense of purpose is so essential that without it we’d struggle to climb out of bed in the morning, for without purpose there'd be no reason. But our purpose is way more complex than getting to New York Grand Central.
The concept of purpose may imply a single ideal to which we progress, but in reality we are driven by multiple goals which change throughout life and may even conflict with one another. A common conflict is how we balance personal interests with those of our loved ones.
Before birth we choose, with guidance, our goals for this particular life. But the human experience is such that we are born into a chaotic world and possessed with free will, and those fundamental goals may become obscured and/or supplemented with others determined by earthly experience.
We all have goals, and our goals determine the choices we make, the actions we take, and how we spend our all important energy. In many cases our goals exist at a subconscious level. We just do what we do because it feels right. But it’s worth taking a few moments to make those goals explicit so we are better informed in the application of will.
Understanding Self to Define Goals
Goals can be identified and refined through the (sometimes painful) process of self-review.
Find a time and place where you won’t be disturbed and simply relax. Take the phone off the hook, play some gentle music, have a drink if it helps, and just distance yourself from the demands of daily life.
When, and only when, you feel completely at ease, take a pen and paper and jot down everything that’s important to you. Do this non-judgementally, don’t worry about whether it’s right or moral, it should be a true snapshot of your soul. At this point you may want to take a break and return some other time, starting with a similar relaxation procedure.
The next step is to review everything that’s important and to identify from it your major drives – and goals. People change over time, so do the circumstances in which they find themselves, and so too can their goals. So it’s worth carrying out the self-review procedure every couple of years or so, or however often you feel the need. The more fleeting goals are most likely those acquired on earth, whereas those that remain constant reflect our underlying Spiritual purpose.
Goals shouldn't be thought of as a final destination; since existence is infinite there is no final destination. Rather, goals represent milestones along life's journey at varying distances from where we are now. Short-term goals might be as simple as our plans for today, eg mow the lawn, wash the car, write 1,000 words etc. Medium term goals can span anything from a few months to a few years and might be getting a new job, getting a pilot's license etc. Long-term goals are measured in years, eg seeing the kids through college, retiring to a condo in Florida by 60 etc.
Making our goals explicit helps us make decisions and take actions in the present to aid their realization. Sometimes goals conflict, eg we want to take a Summer vacation, but our retirement funding is behind target. Knowing your goals won't magically raise additional funding, but it will at least allow a considered decision to be made.
Simply knowing that our day's work has brought us a little closer to our goals gives a sense of fulfillment.
Putting Goals in Context
Goals are not the most important part of our journey. It's actually the experience we acquire along the way that matters most. The nature of existence is eternal change, there is no goal that allows us to rest on our laurels, eg: as a toddler a frequent goal is to go to school! Once we get there it changes to leaving school, maybe going to college. Then it's finding a decent job, getting married, buying a home, raising a family, securing a promotion, putting the kids through college, retirement, finding the right care home, seeing grandchildren through college... There is no end.
There's nothing wrong with goals per se, indeed they are essential to give us the motivation and direction to do something. But the key point is there is no final destination at which everything is done and we can put our feet up and relax. As Richard Bach says, our mission is never done, until we’re buried in our grave (and even then our Spiritual mission continues.)
The key thing about being goal-driven is not to be solely focused on the results, but to appreciate the steps along the way. Sometimes you’ll make great strides, inevitably you’ll have disappointments. No matter, so long as (in the words of Kipling) you can meet with Triumph and Disaster and treat those two impostors just the same; - ie as a source of valuable experience.
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