by Jayne Johnson
There are many factors involved in the process of Goal Attainment. In presenting many Goals Workshops over the years, I have found that one key factor to successful goal attainment is often overlooked: clarity of one’s purpose.
A GOAL AND A PURPOSE – THE DIFFERENCE
A Goal is quantitative in nature; that is, it is measurable. It is something toward which one aims with a specific, measurable outcome in mind. It is an objective toward which one is aiming. It is a specific, measurable result one wishes to create.
Some examples of Goals:
- to finish writing my business plan by April 30, 2003
- to buy one investment property that gives me $500/month in passive income by May 2003
- to make 25 phone calls to potential customers per business day
- to make 25 phone calls to potential customers per business day
- to take my herbs and vitamins every day
- to be married to my soulmate by September 14, 2003
- to send out 10,000 pieces of promotional material every quarter, in 2003
- to have 12 people on my business team by March 15, 2003
A Purpose is qualitative in nature; that is, it is quality-oriented and is not readily measurable. A purpose is an on-going intention that continues into the future. It may entail aspects or phases which can be measured as one goes along, but the purpose itself does not have a completion point. It continues into the future unless and until one decides to end it or change it.
Some examples of Purposes:
- to be an educator
- to be healthy
- to be wealthy
- to provide for my family
- to contribute to the betterment of mankind
- to continue my spiritual evolution
- to have a happy life
- to be successful
- to be honest and ethical in all areas of my life
From these examples one can see the difference between goals and purposes. Goals can be measured. If one has “finished writing one’s business plan by April 30, 2003,” one has achieved one’s goal. There is no doubt about it. It can be readily observed that the result was attained.
With a purpose one is intending to create an effect also, but it’s an on-going effect. It is like a vector that is heading in a particular direction and continues along that course – it has no end, unless one chooses to discard the purpose and create a new one.
REACHING A GOAL IS A REFLECTION OF HOW YOU’RE DOING
The achievement of a goal is a reflection of how one is doing in regard to one’s purpose. For example, if one does “buy an investment property that provides $500/month in passive income by May 2003,” one has achieved a goal that is in alignment with one’s purpose “to be wealthy;” it also might align with the purposes, “to be successful,” “to have a happy life,” and/or “to provide for my family.”
By clearly achieving that goal, one can see that the direction in which one is going is compatible with one’s purpose; it is in alignment with one’s purpose. The attainment of the goal is feedback that one is on-purpose; that is, one is moving in the direction in which one wants to move, in regard to that particular purpose.
A PURPOSE IS A FOUNDATION
A purpose is a foundation. It can be a frustrating challenge to set goals when one does not know one’s purpose. For example, without the purpose “to be healthy” as a foundation, a person might not have much incentive to pursue the goal, “to take vitamins and herbs every day.” It seems that beneath every goal lies a purpose, even if that purpose is not obvious, stated or recognized.
So ideally, a purpose is the basis on which goals are established. Without knowing one’s purpose, a person can feel somewhat lost, somewhat directionless, wandering around in the world aimlessly, wondering what it all means. This person might have an apathetic attitude such as, “Why bother?” or “Is this all there is?”
Without an underlying purpose about which one feels passionate, one could find it challenging to create goals, or could create them but not find them very exciting or meaningful. The goals that person does have may involve simply surviving, making a living, or getting by.
PITFALLS TO WATCH OUT FOR
1. Without knowing one’s purpose, one may have goals that one “bought” from someone else. A father wanted his daughter to be a teacher so she is a teacher, but what she’d really like is to be an actress. A person who sets goals that are not based on his or her own true desire (purpose) can be immersed in a lot of struggle and striving.
But the opposite is also true. When one knows one’s purpose and has goals based on that purpose, everything one does is exciting; one comes alive. Work becomes play. Life itself becomes a joy.
The word strive, which comes from a French word that means “quarrel,” implies that great effort is involved. But knowing one’s true purpose gives one passion, and when there is passion, there is no striving, no effort.
This doesn’t necessarily mean that there is no work involved or that there is nothing to do. But it does mean that “work,” accompanied by an underlying passion and enthusiasm, is not work – it’s fun!
Sometimes the enthusiasm pumps up one’s intent to such a high volume that one sets the goal, and abracadabra! the goal manifests, without having done anything except “wish it to be so.” I imagine we’ve all experienced this, and it has perhaps seemed magical to us. If it is magic, then it is the magic of operating from the context of one’s purpose and passion.
One way to find one’s purpose is to notice what gives one the most pleasure. The “teacher” in the example above trudges to work every morning, but she would happily drive 200 miles to get to her next acting lesson!
2. Sometimes a person will deny his or her purpose, out of the fear that someone else might say something negative about it, or because someone already has discounted it. It’s important to look for oneself, brushing aside what anyone else might think.
3. In my Goals Workshops I’ve found that many people know their purpose but have automatically judged it as “not worthy enough” Without realizing it, they compare their purpose to that of Mother Teresa, for example, and using those standards, conclude that their purpose is “small,” “not good enough,” “not big enough,” etc.
In the Big Picture, there are no “big” or “small” purposes. Your purpose is your truth, your way of giving the gifts that are uniquely your own to the world.
THREE SCENARIOS – THREE SUGGESTIONS
You may or may not know what your purpose is. The three main scenarios are:
1. You don’t know your purpose and feel stuck in a puzzle –
The least optimum approach is to stew about it and endlessly mull it over. If you don’t know, you don’t know. No worries! If you want to know what it is, be patient and willing for the answer to come to you. All you really need is the willingness. The question has been put forth and the process has begun. The answer will appear. Meanwhile, let it go and move on with your life.
2. You don’t know your purpose but everything in your life is working well –
Knowing your purpose is obviously not that important. Don’t let the question upset your apple cart. Keep doing what you’re doing!
3. You know what your purpose is –
Inspect it to ensure that it truly is yours; that it is right for you, that it makes you feel happy and inspired, and then use it with full conscious awareness as a foundation for setting your goals.
THE BOTTOM LINE
Be who you really are. Know what is right for you and follow what you know. With that as your context, the content of purpose and goals is a fun game, a game you will WIN!