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The Importance of Setting Purposeful Goals

Whew – what a year this has been! We often say this when looking back at a year in our life, but some years (such as 2020) have made more of an impact – good or bad or both. We have been able to share the accomplishments, the disappointments, and the emotions of this year with many people outside of ourselves – in our country and in our world. And we each played a small part in bringing ourselves and perhaps others through this year.

When you think back on the year, what were some good things? What would you change? What were your hopes for the end of the year when setting goals last January? I’m sure the pandemic may have caused some goals to change or to be postponed, but goals can shift for many differing reasons. They may change in scope, process, or timeframe, but if you have the “big picture” of your life and your purpose in mind when setting goals, they tend to work themselves out when it’s necessary.

Oftentimes our goals reflect small things we want. But when we look back on life, don’t we realize it’s not always the small things that matter, but rather how they fit into the big things in life? What if we changed the way we craft our goals or resolutions? What if we thought “big picture”? This would give us the opportunity to see our world as we would like it years down the road, and then decide which of the small things will help that big picture come true.

When you’re 100 years old, and someone asks you about your life, what do you want the main feature of your story to be? What do you want your legacy to be – to your family, to your friends, perhaps to the world? From your legacy, you can begin to build the small picture of goals. Do you want to lose weight? This is a small goal, but it plays a big role in the larger picture of your health, and you need your health to accomplish your big picture goal – your legacy.

Sixseconds(1) includes the competency of “Noble Goal” in their EQ model. This competency describes connecting daily choices to your bigger sense of purpose. I love this competency, because it can help guide us in setting our smaller goals and can advise us in the best actions to take when going through our day – not only actions toward others, but also the actions we take toward ourselves.

So this year, I invite you to examine your greater purpose and to seek your Noble Goal. And understand that it may not necessarily be something you’ll find in a day, a week, or a month. You may need to expand your creativity(2) and seek out fresh ideas and perspectives to discover your gift. Or perhaps you already have a sense of your purpose and know what gift you have been given to share with the world. Either way, once you find it, you’ll know it. Your life will slowly come into focus, and you will begin to see how all of your talents, skills, and heart play an important role in this purpose. Because your purpose is also about emotion –when you think about sharing your purpose and gift, you feel filled with light and warmth, happiness and joy. It excites and motivates you and is your reason to get out of bed every day. Now, there may be times when your purpose seems distant, but it’s at those times when you may also notice that you’re not being your “best self” - the person you know you can be, the person you were meant to be.

And if you still aren’t sure of your purpose, you’re among good company! Most of us don’t know our purpose yet and are continually seeking it. But don’t give up – it will come to you. You will feel when you’re on the right track. Here are some tips to begin seeking and finding your purpose:

1. When do you shine? Reflect on your life. Take some quiet time (you may need to do this multiple

times) to think about the times when you felt most satisfied with your actions, when you felt your “shine” coming through.

2. What is your best gift? Again, take some quiet time (or maybe you don’t need any for this) to think about the times people seek you out. For what are they seeking you out – advice, comfort, ideas, solutions, etc.? They may seek this from you because they see this as your purpose.

3. What does the world need and how can you help share that with people? Think big picture – from your family, to your friends, to your community, and so on, and so on. What is an underlying human need that you can fulfill? Perhaps it’s understanding and empathy. If so, how can you share this with people?

Once you know your purpose, write it down into a life’s mission statement and read it frequently. Apply it to your goals and daily actions. You will begin to see such a difference in your life and in the lives of those around you. You may also find that you’re continually modifying your life’s mission statement to become more granular and specific. You know what “feels right”, so go for it!

Using your “big picture” purpose to develop the smaller goals will give you a larger sense of accomplishment and will drive you forward in achieving those goals. And though goals can be written and reviewed at any time of the year, e.g., monthly, quarterly, or annually at the end of the year, taking time to quiet your mind every once in a while, and pausing in life long enough to visualize your legacy can grant you the inspiration to set meaningful goals that bring about a true feeling of satisfaction and fulfillment to your day, year, and life.

(1)More information on the Sixseconds’ EQ competency of Noble Goal:

(2)Within the Self-Management Quadrant of ISEI’s list of SEI Competencies:

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