Why Is Goal Setting Important?

Why is goal setting important to realize spiritual meaning and accomplishment?

A personal goal is a way you realize yourself in the world.

When you decide to do something, a visualization emerges. First, the future world appears with a picture of your new self.

By setting a goal you divide yourself into two: your present and future selves.

But instantly, once you set a future self, your past self appears. Now three selves exist: past, present, and future.

And then—snap! —a fourth self appears: the self that’s aware of your past self, present self, and future self.

And finally, the fifth self appears—your capital ‘S’ Self—the Self that has brought your four other selves into existence.

So, your goal-setting self is five different selves.

The self as multiple selves is well described at the beginning of Kierkegaard’s The Sickness Unto Death. And Kierkegaard’s analysis is taken from Hegel’s Preface to the Phenomenology of Spirit.

What is goal setting?

Analysis of the goal-making mind (self five) helps you generate goals that lead to lasting happiness. Because if goals are set with a good and clear understanding of the goal-setting mind, you’ll set good clear goals.

For great religious figures like Jesus, Buddha, and Aristotle, Universal Self sets the goals that the lower-case-‘s’-self follows. When you live an enlightened life, you understand the nature of the Good and act on that understanding.

Aristotle says that the great goal of human life is to live as a virtuous person. 

He says that virtue makes us happy because virtue is the purpose of being human. Also, we are happiest when we fulfill our purpose.

What does Aristotle say about our purpose in life?

According to Aristotle, our life purpose is to embody the mind of virtue.

But before one can live virtue, one needs to know what virtue is. And the study of the nature of virtue is philosophy or wisdom.

Aristotle tells us—as do later philosophers like Thomas Aquinas—that a virtuous life leads to lasting happiness. Therefore, to be happy, you must know what virtue is.

Through philosophy, we learn how to live. 

Clearly, there are different kinds of goals. Philosophical and contemplative goals require insight into nature. Good life goals seek to manage physical life in alignment with the insights gleaned from wisdom, meditation, and contemplation.

In other words, there are two ways of being human beings: 

  1. The more passive way of listening, observing, and receiving insight—is the way of wisdom, meditation, contemplation, and philosophy.
  2. The more active way of doing, planning, knowing, and executing—is the way of action, utility, work, and doing. 

When one sets goals, it’s important to know the attitude and position from which one is setting them.

Are you setting goals for stillness, or goals for action?

Many contemporary meditators confuse stillness with action and action with stillness and consequently end up wasting a lot of time with ineffective meditations.

Insight requires modesty, listening, and a contemplative attitude that sustains your openness to truth. 

The point of spiritual, religious, and philosophical study is to prepare the mind to receive the truth. The spiritual mind receives spirit as insight.

The self prepares itself to receive the Self.

If the mind never stops doing and acting, it never makes itself still and available to receive the truth. Consequently, true life never appears to that mind. Such a mind will go on working and destroying life with practical, useful knowledge. This mind skillfully gets things done in the world, but it’s poor when it comes to creating meaningful human relationships.

What’s so important about stillness?

Someone who can’t be still, can’t be with the Self. Therefore, he can’t be with the Self in another. The inability to recognize the Self in oneself and in others is the inability to recognize life. This is the same as losing your ability to practice virtue and all the (spiritual) goods that make life meaningful.

Current world culture increasingly emphasizes active goal setting.

Folks usually set goals in the name of getting things done. They set a goal to earn a raise or to buy a house. 

But a transactional approach to goal setting is harmful because you’re working for achievements that are ultimately unfulfilling. 

Instead, we’re fulfilled when we realize an unchangeable truth. A truth that can’t be taken away. A satisfaction that can’t be ruined by hurricanes, floods, global warming, divorce, or other forms of change and loss.

In short, realizing truth allows us to rest in meaningful, nurturing relationships, with ourselves, with others, and with the world.

A life aimed at acquiring things and experiences leads to a hectic existence. You end up committing to frantic activity. And you lose the satisfaction of achieving something to the need to acquire another. One success forces you to move on to the next thing. The next goal, accomplishment, person, experience, or relationship.

What are the benefits of goal setting?

The benefits of goal setting depend on the kinds of goals we set. 

If you receive the Self in the self, you’re likely to be more fulfilled. Because you’re completing your purpose as a human being. 

We are self-actualizing our bodies and mind. We make the spiritual Self an actual living self in the world.

But when you set goals to acquire status and profit, you’ll likely end up unsatisfied. Because unless you remember to use your successes to practice wisdom and contemplation you’ll remain in a craving state. Your endless pursuit of acquisition, expansion, growth, protection, and domination leaves you unfulfilled. You end life afflicted by wan and regret. Because there are many more important reasons to live than acquiring things.

Thus, before setting goals it’s important to consider the mind by which goals are set.

Now you have a good understanding of who and what you are. You can make goals that lead to true satisfaction. 

Make your first goal be to deeply understand what the self is, and what the mind is. Then ask what goals really are—what do they involve and do how they relate to human happiness and wisdom. 

Then start there: what goal do you need to set to understand yourself, your purpose, and your life. 

With this foundation as a basis for your thought and action, you will discover your capacity for deep listening. Your life opens out of listening. Because listening is the life of true leisure. And the ancient root of the word for leisure is also the root of the word ‘school.’

Examples of personal goals

There are many great examples of such a life in history including Confucius, Buddha, as well as many prophets, luminaries, and saints, all of whom had the goal to attain wisdom.

Ought you not join such a company as best as you can, living as equally a creative and beneficial life as those who realized their purpose and function as human beings?

Imagine the earth if all her inhabitants were so!

Bodhi Heart BH logo in black on a cream background
6 Reviews on Bodhi Heart

Unfortunately, Yelp doesn’t show all of our client’s reviews on their website. 18 of 50, almost half of them, are hidden. But we want you to be able to see them all. See the excerpts below or read the full review by clicking the “Read on Yelp” button and logging into your Yelp account.

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.


download the quick-start guide to meditation

Bring more calm peace into your your life.