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Setting Purpose-Driven Goals

Have you ever set a goal and been so excited by the possibility of it, only to lose motivation or get distracted shortly after taking action? My guess is that most, if not all of us, have been there at least once.

 

A few years ago, I set the goal to meditate daily for at least 20 minutes. This was in March of 2020, at the beginning of the Covid lockdown. I'd decided that my life would be exponentially better with a regular meditation practice. I was sure that if I could commit to this goal daily, my anxiety would magically go away, my focus would improve, and I'd be more productive and creative.

 

Spoiler: I made it a week before losing motivation.  

 

Looking back, I see a couple of reasons why I didn't follow through on this goal. First, I'd approached this goal from a mindset of trying to fix something that was wrong in my life. The anxiety and lack of focus were things that were "wrong" with me that I was going to fix with meditation. Second, I was so focused on the future benefits of meditation that I neglected to consider the experience I wanted to cultivate each day. I saw the 20 minutes of meditation each day as a task to get through so I could check it off my list. I saw it as an obligation and I found myself pushing the practice later and later in the day until eventually I filled that time with some other task.

 

What was missing for me around this goal was a clear 'why' or 'what for.' Because without a compelling vision of the experience I yearn for, it's easy to prioritize something, anything, else over sitting for 20 minutes. Especially when that "something else" provides more immediate gratification.

 

A compelling vision is powerful because it gives meaning to our goals and shifts our relationship with them. It pulls us out of what’s predictable and gives us access to what’s possible.

 

The vision is the experience you want to create. It’s what you truly yearn for. It’s your North Star that guides you forward even when obstacles or distractions occur. It’s a guide and a beacon — a reminder of where you’re headed and why that matters.

 

Rewind back to my daily meditation goal. I eventually took the time to think about why this goal was so important to me. What I realized was that my goal was, and still is, getting to a place where I don’t view my anxiety as something that has control over me. Beyond that? To feel more connected to my body and how it responds to stress. Beyond that? To have access to a life of embodied awe, curiosity, and joy.

 

When it comes time to meditate daily and my immediate response (especially when I’m feeling short on time) is to push it off or say that I’ll do it tomorrow, having a clear vision of “why” this goal is important to me reminds me of what’s possible. It brings me out of the immediate urgency of my day and connects me to my bigger commitments. 

 

I get to ask myself: “In this moment, what will get me more connected to my body? What gives me access to awe, curiosity, and joy?” More often than not, the answer is to pause what I'm working on and find a space to be quiet and breathe. 

 

By getting clear on the impact of my choices. I’m more likely to have compassion for myself on the days I don’t meditate AND more curiosity during the meditation rather than simply doing the task in order to mark it as complete. 

 

Creating a compelling vision is a personal and ongoing process. You and I may both have the same goal of meditating daily but different visions of how and why this practice is something we’re committed to. 

 

Here are a few questions to consider in distilling your own compelling vision: 

 

  • How do I envision my ideal life?

  • What are the experiences I yearn for in my life? (Consider relationships, career, health, and personal growth.)

  • If failure wasn’t a concern, what would I commit my life to? 

  • What steps can I take to create a more balanced and joy-filled life?

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