It's so fashionable and Non-dual PC these days to just
take a nonchalant attitude about life. A sort of "Well,
whatever happens is supposed to". I'm somewhat this way
myself, but I also remember and value what the wisest
man I ever met, Swami Satchidananda, said about this:
"If you make appointments, you'll be disappointed, but
if you don't have an aim, you're aimless" (or something
like that). What brought this to mind was receiving an
email from one of our Meditation Society of America members,
Loretta Siani PhD, who many of you know from her excellent
articles in The Inner Traveler. She has been answering
questions she receives and sharing them on occasion, and
this time the subject was about goals. The advise is so
good I thought it would be beneficial to share it as well
as to start some thinking about just "Witnessing" vs
"Witnessing and Doing", and other related things. We also
recently had a discussion about writing methodologies
relative to Realization, so once again, it seems right to
share this now. And of course, that's a "go with your
gut-feeling" methodology, which is perhaps the 180 degree
opposite goal planning. In any event, here it is. Enjoy!
The Power of Written Goals
This article was written in response to an internet client who is
having difficulty writing goals, remaining committed to them, and
knowing whether they are "right" for him.
There's power in goal setting.
Written goals concretize thought. They turn sprit into matter. They
help us to realize our dreams. They may not help us overcome EVERY
obstacle along the way to our dreams, but they certainly do work to
keep us on track.
They are especially useful when it comes to organizing a business,
developing a talent or managing our time. In these matters working
without written goals can be like trying to build a house without a
blue print. You have no idea where to start, what resources you'll
need, what they'll cost or what things will look like in the end.
Written goals shed light on all this. They define priorities, clarify
actions, help us to measure progress and wisely manage our resources.
They can transform us from being clock-watchers and bean counters into
visionary leaders of our own lives. .
The secret to experiencing all of the benefits of written goals is to
write them in service to the kind of life you want to lead. When your
goals do this, questions of what to focus on first, how to remain
committed or how to know if you've made the "right" choices answer
Here are some things to consider when writing your goals that should
answer your concerns and help you to experience their rewards.
1. Make your written goals be a reflection of what makes you happy in
Your primary responsibility to yourself in this life is to be happy.
Why? Because happy people lead happier more successful lives. Every
thinking person knows that happy people make better friends, better
business partners and better life partners. Happy people are
healthier, physically, emotionally and spiritually.
Your mission is to be a happy person. To accomplish this you must live
your life for yourself and no one else. Make sure that you're not
trying to satisfy someone else's vision of what you should do. Also be
careful that you are not trying to prove something to anyone else
either. Motivation fueled by a need for approval or by anger or
revenge comes from your ego. It's rewards are limited and short-lived.
Happiness is a by-product of pursuing the things that matter to you in
life. It is a derivative of being true to your self and an attribute
of doing what you love. Without this you will feel dispirited and out
of humor with yourself. With it you will be filled with desire. Desire
and success are inseparable.
2. Make sure your written goals make use of your unique talents.
Understanding what your unique talents are is critical in choosing the
correct life work for yourself. When you are not engaged in work that
is right for you, you can begin to resent what you are doing, even if
you think it's for the right reasons. Be sure you know what your
talents are and that you are taking advantage of them. Working in a
livelihood that matches your unique talents keeps you motivated to
keep your commitments to yourself and others.
3. Make sure your written goals are connected to a purpose beyond your
Life is at its best when we live it with a sense of purpose beyond our
ego. It doesn't really matter what our work is or whether we rank
among the famous. What matters most is that we are giving our all in
some useful way to something we believe in. Then, when the going gets
tuff, we get going all the more. As the great German philosopher
Friedrich Nietzsche said, he who has a why can withstand any how.
4. Have a vision of greatness for your life.
All great leaders know the power of an eloquently articulated vision
of greatness. An eloquently expressed vision of greatness engages the
imagination. It ennobles people's principles, breathes life into their
hopes, and awakens their dreams. Winston Churchill's eloquently
expressed vision of greatness for the British people during WWII led
them to victory in the most trying of times.
Your eloquently expressed vision of greatness for your life can do the
same thing for you.
The brick and mortar of life is often filled with risking failure,
facing a difficult decision, or sticking to tedious tasks. To do these
things requires extraordinary desire and enthusiasm. When you feel
lost or find yourself in the teeth of great difficulties your vision
of greatness for your life will remind you that each problem you face
is only one small part of the overall life you are building. It will
spawn the desire and enthusiasm you need to overcome difficulty and do
ordinary things extraordinarily well. Take the time to grapple with
this. There are a number of international training organizations who
offer classes in writing vision statements. If you want immediate
help, get David McNally's book, Even Eagles Need A Push, published by
5. How do you know you're making the "right" choices?
Every choice you make is the "right" choice because you will learn
something from every choice you make. I encourage you to think of your
goals as an expression of what you believe is right for you at the
time. The way to verify that they continue to be right for you is that
you give everything you've got to whatever you're doing. Then become
observant of your energy level as you work. You will feel energized
and joyful when you're working with a sense of purpose on the things
that make you happy. When you're giving your all to something you
believe in you may discover that you'll often lose all track of time
and have energy left over at the end of the day. Or you'll feel
exhausted in a good way like the way you might feel after a long
run. If, on the other hand, you feel drained of life at the end of the
day, the chances are you're working at something that isn't a good fit
A word of caution, however: This does not mean that you're never going
to feel confused, bored or unsure of yourself while you're working
even at something that is "right" for you. We're likely to feel this
way whenever we can't see the forest for the trees. Aside from this,
as long as we're in this world there will be times when we have to
overcome our natural laziness and do the grunt work. It's called
paying our dues. We'll always have to practice our chops in one-way or
another. Life has a way of asking us to put our muscle where our mouth
is and delay gratification. This matures us.
Having said that, it is also a sign of maturity when we can change
directions in life not because we do not have the discipline to delay
gratification but because we are able to take risks in order to grow
and respond to a new, inner call. You need not ever be afraid of
making the "wrong" decision. There is no such thing. Just as there is
no such thing as failure. If they're were such a thing as failure, as
Mary Pickford said, it wouldn't be in the falling down; it would be in
the staying down. Just keep getting up. All of your wisdom in life
comes from your mistakes. Make a lot of mistakes and be grateful for
them. They are your greatest teachers.
6. Should your written goals be flexible?
It has been said that the road to success is always under
construction. Nothing is set in stone. In the end, John Lennon's adage
that life is what happens to us while we're making other plans, is a
good one to remember. Our future is always, ultimately, in God's
hands. There will be many surprises in life and we must be prepared to
change directions without hesitation or self-condemnation.
It has also been said that a goal without a deadline is a dream. One
of the biggest bangs we get out of written goals is the opportunity to
set a deadline. Deadlines fuel energy. They give us a sense of
urgency. That's because the unconscious mind likes the click of
closure. It doesn't like lose ends hanging. It remains vigilant until
the last piece of the puzzle is found. In this regard, all unfinished
business we have, drains us of power. Make sure you haven't left
anything undone from the past. If you have, either do it or get it off
your plate so your unconscious mind won't be draining you of power.
Some people are intolerant of the sense of "pressure" created by a
deadline. Instead of being motivated they feel overwhelmed. Here are
some remedies for this.
1. Move the deadline out further. Give yourself more slack
2. Break things down into little pieces. Eat your elephant one bite at
a time as they say. For example, if your long-range goal is to write a
200-page book in a year, your short-range goal is to write one page a day.
3. When you get up in the morning start to work on your number one
short-range priority for the day, (writing that one page) and stick to
it until its finished or until you can take it no further.
4. Don't get sucked into doing the easy things first. Whenever you're
faced with a particularly difficult task do it first thing when your
energy is up. No-brainers can be done during a time when you're energy
5. Put your focus on how good you'll feel when the thing you want to
put off is done. Keep the benefits of the end result in mind.
6. When the going gets tough remind yourself of why you're doing what
you're doing. Keep your vision of greatness in mind.
One of the main benefits of having written goals should be that they
reduce your level of anxiety not increase it. As I said in the
beginning goals are written to define priorities, clarify actions,
help you to measure progress and wisely manage your resources. If they
are not doing these things for you then you are probably attempting to
do too much. The antidote for this is to reprioritize the things that
you have before you to do. Do what's most important and most urgent
first. Work on that one thing, when you're energy is high. Work on it
until it finished, or until you can take it no further. Most of us
have higher energy and can think better in the morning. If you're one
of those upside down people who work better at night, than do so.
7. Always begin with the end result in mind?
A good rule of thumb is to always begin everything with the end in
mind. In writing your goals for work begin with the long range ones
then work backwards from there. The same is true for your life goals.
Ask yourself a few questions with the end in mind such as how would
you like people to describe the life you led after your gone? What
would you want it to say on your tombstone? Ask yourself how you will
feel when you are fulfilling your purpose and making a contribution to
the world. Then include your answers in your vision of greatness for
8. Go easy on yourself.
The worst thing you can do is berate yourself or condemn yourself for
not meeting your goals. Goal setting is meant to be inspirational not
demoralizing. Don't fret about them that much. Remember they are tools
that should work for you. If they fail to do this then they you
probably need to re-write them. Also, don't get overly analytical
about how to write them. No one's going to look at them but you. Have
fun. Make it a game.
Your overall mission is to live your life as if you were living it for
the second time doing all the things that you intended to do the first
time around. Your short-term goal then becomes to live every day as if
it were your last. Make every day a masterpiece. As the adage goes,
plan as if you had a hundred years but live as if there's no tomorrow.
Because the only thing that you every really have is today anyway.
Best of luck to you. you.
Loretta Siani, Ph.D.
Long Beach, CA 90803
Phone: 562 434-7429
Fax: 562 434-7317
Web site: http://www.lorettasiani.com