11 Oct An alternative approach to Personal Goal Setting
Goal setting is often touted as the most important aspect of life. The internet is saturated with listicles expanding on its importance. “Set insane goals. Take Action. Reward yourself,” the list goes on. Yet, despite the abundance of articles explaining the importance of goal setting, few of us are able to reap tangible results. The reason is simple. It is because this approach is marred with a fundamental flaw.
It pushes fulfillment into the future.
Goals are often seen as islands located far off in the ocean. Success is seen as the ruthless struggle to reach this island and claim it as your own. But what if you paused to enjoy the gentle caress of the wind and the splatter of water? What if you slowed down to sing with the birds that stopped by? Wouldn’t that make the journey more worthwhile? Wouldn’t that make every moment beautiful (not just the one you are craving for)?
There is nothing inherently wrong with goal setting. In a world of chatter and distractions, goals help us to cut through the noise. Goals provide us with direction and this is their biggest advantage. The problem arises when we begin to equate goals with clear cut paths that lead us to our desired fruits. When we start to see goals as destinations to be reached, we hamper our well being and rob ourselves of the most beautiful things that life has to offer.
So given the obvious benefits and drawbacks of goal setting, what must we do? This problem is perplexing but it has a simple answer— The principle of intentionality.
Intentionality: The mental state of being deliberate and directed.
The difference between intentionality and goal setting is subtle yet it contains the potential to be life-changing. Intentionality is about choosing your north star. It is about recognizing what truly drives you and following that voice with utmost sincerity.
This is what goal setting looks like:
- “I want to score 100 in the next math test”
- “I want to write the next best selling novel”
- “I want to earn a million dollars.”
And this is what intentionality looks like:
- “I want to strengthen my understanding of this concept so that I am able to solve challenging questions.”
- “I want to develop my writing skills so that I can speak my truth and express my ideas clearly”
- “I want to work towards attaining financial independence.”
The only difference is a shift in perspective. While one approach ties happiness to the outcome, the other equates happiness with effort. It is similar to the philosophy of karma yoga: to work for work’s sake and not hanker after results.
Intentionality allows us to be open to the opportunities that may blossom in the future without being dragged down by distractions. It helps us to enjoy the journey that shall eventually lead us to our desired shores.
“Constellation and Stars” approach
It is important to compliment intentionality with daily practices. Once you know where you are headed, it helps to break down the effort into practices you can do every day. Each practice can be represented as an individual star. As you build your practice over time, these stars collate together to form constellations.
Let’s say you decide to hone your writing skills.
Deciding to write 1000 words a day will be your daily practice i.e your individual star.
Publishing your work on an online site or submitting an article to a newspaper represents the lines that connect those stars.
And the result of writing daily, improving your craft, or being published in a popular magazine can be visualized as your own little constellation.
As you go about perfecting each individual star and connecting them, very soon you will have your own constellation! Instead of setting out to build the perfect collection of stars, you gradually build your practice with sincerity and mindfulness. And that makes all the difference.
Meditation is no different
At Black Lotus, mindfulness and kindness are our north stars. They guide us in all that we do. And we believe that inculcating these practices requires intentionality. Hence, Black Lotus provides you with the RARE framework (Reflect – Act – Reinforce – Evaluate) to help you make mindfulness and kindness a part of your daily practice.
Each day, you spend a few minutes to center yourself and cultivate compassion. Over time, these simple acts will help you become a calmer, kinder, and happier individual.
So set your intentions, decide on your daily practices and before you know, you’ll have your own constellation!
– Kavana Anklekar