Created by the Center for Spirituality & Healing and Charlson Meadows.

Set Goals Connected to Purpose

Woman sits on couch, making a list

Goals and purpose are not synonymous. Goals are more specific, finite accomplishments that serve your ultimate purpose. For example, one of your broader life purposes might be to empower others to take better care of the environment. A goal that will help you honor this purpose could be as ambitious as organizing a neighborhood campaign to clean up the local park, or as simple as teaching your daughter to turn the light off when she leaves the room.

Finding authentic goals

It is much easier to achieve your goals if they are inherently rewarding, rather than money-driven or based upon others’ expectations. Sonja Lyubomirsky says that authentic goals will satisfy your needs and deliver “powerful emotional benefits,” including a sense of accomplishment, pride, and happiness.

Authentic goals are also:

  • Harmonious. Setting goals for your life works best if they are integrated with one another and serve a broader purpose. For example, you’ll have better success achieving your goal of traveling internationally if you also aim to save money. Goals that conflict with one another will frustrate you and cause stress.
  • Approach-oriented. Science says that when we work toward something (like creating better relationships with others), we have a much better chance of sticking with it then when we work against it (like avoiding conflict with others). Write your goals down. Do they have approach-oriented wording? 
  • Centered around an activity. Achieving activity-related goals, such as learning a specific task, meeting a deadline, or creating something tangible, can help produce feelings of accomplishment and progress, which will encourage you to keep going in the direction you’re headed.

Ask Yourself

Reflect upon your calling. What are some authentic goals you could accomplish in the next year that will help fulfill your purpose? The next five years? Your whole lifetime? Write them down using specific details and timelines.

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