Personal Goals

The Ultimate Guide.

An ideal life is built on personal goals. 

You wish to climb Mt. Everest, build a cabin in the woods,  or start an inspiring community.

To fulfill your wish, you’ll start with a personal goal.

WHAT ARE PERSONAL GOALS?

In general, if you want to be happy, the most important question for you to answer is what it means to live a good life.

A good goal comes from knowing who you are and what you want.

Of course, what it means to “live a good life” differs from person to person. The important action is to determine what a good life looks like for you. Fortunately, there are many helpful exercises for this, such as the Greater Good Science Center’s, Best Possible Self. 

For a Buddhist monk, living a good life means living a life that is dedicated to benefiting all beings. 

When a monk knows his purpose he makes a vow to help all sentient beings. And his vow is a kind of personal goal that guides him throughout his life.

A monk’s dedication to helping all beings helps him decide what to do in any given situation. For example, he might have to decide whether or not to miss his train or to help an old woman cross a street. His goal and purpose in life will encourage him to help an old lady across the street, even at his own expense.

However, your goals will not have true power unless they’re  SMART.

SMART means:

  Specific

M    Measurable

A    Achievable

R    Realistic

T    Timely

We’ll talk more about this below.

A strong goal is internally motivated. This means that the goal should be emotionally meaningful to you—something that you want to do rather than something that you’re told that you ought to do (sometimes these are the same, but not always.)

It’s always a good idea to dig into your goal and ask “Why do I want to do this?” “What is important about achieving this goal?”

Also, an effective goal has a specific, measurable outcome.

SOME EXAMPLES OF PERSONAL GOALS

There are many examples of personal goals — more than there are people in the world.

A  goal that seems outlandish to one person may be the very ambition another person wants to conquer. 

A personal goal is your unique wish.

Shakyamuni Buddha’s goal was to attain enlightenment. Buddha’s enlightenment happened one morning as he watched Venus appear in the sky. Seeing Venus as he sat under a tree at dawn, after 12 years of training, Buddha attained enlightenment.

You may wish to become a brilliant musician, artist, mathematician, a great parent or family member, wealthy enough to retire, a world traveler, a billionaire with a legacy, or a Nobel laureate who brings new medicines into the world.

Take a look at some personal goal examples.

WHAT’S A TRUE GOAL?

Aristotle says that virtuous goals make us happy.

So, goals that you set for yourself that also benefit others are the kinds of goals that will make you happy. 

In fact, according to neuroscience, altruism is one of the four practices that contribute to well-being

The other three skills that make for well-being are attention, positive outlook, and resilience (defined as “the rapidity with which you recover from adversity”).

Fulfilling an altruistic goal makes you happy.

And because you thrive by setting internally-motivated altruistic goals, it’s important to reflect on how your goal (1)  is particularly enjoyable or beneficial to yourself and  (2) enjoyable and beneficial to others.

For example:

 To have the goal of being the best music composer in the world to brighten human life and culture is a good goal.

But to be the best music composer in the world because you want more money and status than others, or because you want revenge on your enemies, is unlikely to make you happy, even if you succeed. 

The outcome in both of the above cases looks the same. Quantitatively, you sell the same number of recordings. But the qualitative—the moral and the spiritual difference—between someone who wants to bring joy to the world and someone who wants glory is immense.

Therefore, reflecting on your motive for doing what you want is important for goal setting. Especially if you want to feel happy and fulfilled.

WHY IS GOAL SETTING IMPORTANT?

It’s our spiritual nature to grow, thrive, and make goals. So, when we don’t make goals, we violate our nature, damage our life, and make ourselves sad.

Not to make a goal—to be lazy, dispassionate, worn down, uninspired, or cynical—suggests that something in you is broken, hurt, or damaged.

It’s impossible to change and make progress without setting a personal goal.

If you feel unmotivated to have a goal, reflect on what keeps you from wanting to make the world a better place. Why do you have no passion to contribute something enjoyable, fun, or enlightening to the world (something that others will enjoy, too)?

Setting a goal is the beginning of human freedom because it’s the only way to overcome the factors that limit your life.

Also, if you can’t—or don’t—set a goal, then you’re subject to the goals of others who have more passion, energy, and vision than you.

Innovation comes from thinking about how to make things that don’t yet exist in order to make life better for yourself and others. Without goals, we wouldn’t have penicillin, electricity, or clothes.

Medicine extends life. Dishwashers and garbage disposals save time. And goal-setting, dreams, visions, and overcoming challenges keep us from being bound by stultifying limits and ignorance.

Goal setting is important for human progress and development.

Without goals human life perishes.

And the big, ambitious goals that require the most energy, challenge, and imagination—the goals that push you out of your comfort zone—are the best goals to set and to pursue.

Learn more about why goal setting is important.

SHOULD YOU KEEP YOUR GOALS TO YOURSELF?

Having a goal, a vision, or a wish for yourself is like planting a seed in your heart and mind.

The spiritual heart-mind provides nutrients that sustain the seed—your great wish—to grow.

Some environments, people, and relationships increase spiritual nutrients.

But some people, relationships, and environments deplete the soil of the spiritual heart. Such elements are toxic and are best avoided.

Therefore, it’s important to be able to judge the effects of your environment on your wish and on your spiritual (and physical) heart.

Sometimes the environment and situation can be so bad that the mere existence of a noble wish, dream, or aspiration, invites negative reactions from others such as scorn jealousy, and hate. In such a case—if you live in an environment that’s hostile to your good wish—it’s better to keep your wish to yourself. 

If criticism and negativity inhibit the fragile, delicate beginning of your dream before it has the strength to exist in the world, it’s better to keep your wish secret until it’s strong enough to put into physical practice without being extinguished.

But there are times when it’s better to make your wish public—if the people and environment in your life support your wish. Because one of the great joys of our life is to share our wishes and dreams—and to realize those wishes and dreams—with others.

True happiness is when someone meets and shares and encourages our wishes and dreams and when others trust, love, and respect us enough to have us participate in theirs.

Learn more about whether or not you should keep goals to yourself.

GOAL SETTING TECHNIQUES

The goal-setting process has three main parts.

  • The first part is discovering the reason why you want to achieve the goal.
  • The second part is structuring your goal effectively so that you can achieve it.
  • The third part is to think big. Be ambitious!

DISCOVER YOUR EMOTIONAL MOTIVATION FOR YOUR GOAL

Here is a breakdown of how best to think about setting a goal:

1. Determine the objective.
For example: “My goal is to climb Mt. Everest!”

2. Determine the measure of the objective. 
How will you know you have achieved the goal? What will you have, see, understand, or feel?

For example: “I will have achieved my goal when: I reach the summit.”

3. Be clear on what it means to you to have achieved this goal.
This step is the most important because the likelihood that you’ll achieve your goal is significantly increased if the goal you set is internally motivated.

For example: “When I climb Mt. Everest, I will have overcome a monumental personal challenge and proven to myself that I can achieve great things in my life.”

Internal motivation is an important part of understanding how to set goals, and being able to stay focused on your goals.

Therefore, I suggest putting together a vision board to help you contemplate why the goal is emotionally meaningful to you so that you become invested in achieving it. Because emotion is the energy that keeps you going when obstacles arise

SET SMART GOALS

SMART stands for:

S—SPECIFIC
I will climb Mt. Everest.

M—MEASURABLE
I will have achieved my goal when I reach the top of the mountain.

A—ACTIONABLE
I will prepare for the climb by running five miles a day – four days a week, taking the time off from work, and asking my family to support me.

R—RELEVANT (TO YOUR PROJECT AND LIFE)
When I achieve this goal I will prove to myself that I can achieve great things. I will know that I’m free to design my own life. 

T—TIME-BOUND
I will climb Mt. Everest this year.

THINK BIG

It’s energizing and healthy to think big and set ambitious goals.

Jim Collins, a former professor at the Stanford Business School, author of  Good to Great and other books on what makes a company great, talks about the importance of setting Big Hairy Audacious Goals (BHAGS—pronounced bee-hags).

BHAGS are massive goals that inspire, energize and focus your life. They should be considered carefully and deeply, based on your core values and purpose.

Some of the most fruitful work you do with a coach comes from digging into your core values and purpose in order to formulate a vision for your life with massive goals that are emotionally meaningful to you.

Discussions of this nature usually require a vision statement, which we’ll go into in other posts. Collins outlines the parameters of effective vision statements in an excellent article he published in the Harvard Business Review.

Preparing a strong vision statement is a fabulous outcome to have while working with a coach.

Doing so with the right person, you’ll learn a lot about your life, what your values are, your resources, strengths, and fears, as well as what your vision for the world is, and how you might use your unique talents, gifts, and abilities to make the world a better place.

For help through this process, you can read more about goal-setting techniques.

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Joshua Levy
Joshua Levy
I have bee seeing Soken for while now. If you have some sort of lingering physcial malady go see him, don't wait. He's pretty busy and it might take some time to get in so call right now. Some of my injuries and pain that I have had for years have been greatly relieved by his rolfing work and he's also just a great human being. I would totally go see him for his other services as well. Rolfing doesn't need to be super intense though it can be. He will calibrate to what you need
Philippa Newman
Philippa Newman
I cannot recommend Soken highly enough. He will literally transform your life. I first came to meet Soken for his Rolfing services when I had been living with unbearable lower back pain for over a year. Numerous visits to doctors, various x-rays and months of physical therapy later, I was no better off and desperate to find an alternative solution. Having read about Rolfing as a technique, I discovered Soken's practice in NYC. I am now back pain free and able to do things I thought no longer possible. As I learned more about Soken during our Rolfing sessions, I became interested in his spiritual life coaching /contemplative guidance program. His carefully tailored program has given me enormous insight, and I am a better person, mother and leader as a result. Soken has a calming, peaceful and reassuring presence, and I am extremely grateful to have met him when I did.
A Rice
A Rice
Soken is an amazing coach that will get to the essence of your issues. Difficult issues seem to become easier handle talking to Soken. He is a great coach to have, especially in these times. He is clear and ensures you leave each session with an understanding and a plan of action.
Maya Kumits
Maya Kumits
I’ve been going to Soken for years for my bodywork and sending everyone I know to him too. The work he does with his hands is incredible - I cannot say enough good things. This review, however, is for life coaching. I was faced with a decision recently that I was having trouble making. I was going in circles. I kept changing my mind because I ultimately had no idea what to do. I felt lost and confused. I reached out to Soken for help and was so glad I did. After struggling for weeks trying to figure out the right thing to do, a 1-hour call with him gave me the clarity I needed. By answering a series of thoughtful questions and hearing my answers reflected back to me, I was able to untangle the signal from the noise. By the end of the call, the answer revealed itself. It’s been a few weeks since our call and I still feel great about the decision. I’m so grateful to Soken for helping me with this and won’t hesitate to reach out again for more life coaching.
Marni Gordon
Marni Gordon
I highly recommend Soken as he's a fantastic coach! Soken really helped me set clear goals and measures, helped me to get to insight, and ensures that I have a strong action plan with accountability in every session. Soken's coaching helped me overcome the fear of taking the next step. Soken is sensitive and provides compassionate support through the process.
faraz khan
faraz khan
Soken is an exceptionally intelligent person who seems to understand any multiple of bodily issues. I've been struggling with a reoccurring injury the past few years, and already after the first session I can sense a lot of good has been done. I highly recommend him to anyone 😊
Shonni Silverberg
Shonni Silverberg
I got to know Soken as a client of his Rolfing practice, where his expertise was immeasurably valuable in treating my plantar fasciitis. During the COVID crisis, Soken introduced me to meditation. Practicing under his guidance has been extremely helpful in these turbulent times. Shonni J. Silverberg, M.D., New York, NY
Anaina Mascovich
Anaina Mascovich
The meditation guidance and talk last night was phenomenal. I have had instruction on Metta meditation before, but your explanation offered so much wisdom and direct understanding. Much Gratitude to You Soken.
Lena Elkousy
Lena Elkousy
This review is long overdue, and I would give 10 stars if I could. I cannot recommend Soken's work highly enough. Rolfing is an investment in my physical and emotional health that I wish I had made long ago. To put it quite simply, Soken has changed my life. When we work together, he listens to what I say and what my body says, and works with me right where I am. He is a true healer. In our first series of sessions, he permanently relieved shoulder/neck pain and unfurled a chronic knot that no amount of years of deep tissue massage could even touch. One side of my ribcage was bound with fascia and scar tissue from physical and emotional trauma, to the point that I couldn't breathe into my lower right lung without feeling cramping in surrounding muscles. Over a few sessions, he set me free, and you can actually see the difference in the shape of my ribs. In a series other sessions, he relieved sharp cramping in my feet that I've dealt with since childhood. As a yogi and meditator myself, I find Soken's integrative approach quite profound. Do yourself a favor and an act of self love: and go see this wizard.
Stella Nyla Jules
Stella Nyla Jules
Soken has been transformational in improving and diminishing the increasing pain in my neck and shoulder that traditional physical therapies failed to resolve. His patience, caring, and intuition are top notch.

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