Forget Your New Year Resolutions! Choose Purpose Over Goals

Man needs Purpose, not Resolutions


Purpose Over Goals

As 2015 starts winding down, Thanksgiving behind you, you may find yourself doing last minute (or just-getting-started) shopping. Christmas is a week away for those who practice it, but soon the new year will be here and it’s the natural time on the calendar that people start thinking of the year ahead, where their lives are and where they want them to be.

New Year’s Resolutions

Yes, most of us have tried them, and I, for one, haven’t had much success keeping to them.

Mirriam-Webster defines resolution as “the act or process of resolving.” I don’t find it helpful to have the key word as part of the definition you are trying to understand, but that’s just me. So…

Resolve, “to make a definite and serious decision to do something.”  That’s more helpful. There is a decision and a goal.

I don’t like goals. By inference I only slightly less like resolutions.

Don’t make any resolutions!

There you have it, permission not to set any. No more unused gym memberships or forgotten diets. I’ve just saved you a ton of money and guilt. Happy Holidays!

You probably sense there is a twist coming, a bait and switch. I’m not clever enough to not get caught, so I’ll give it to you straight: Live your Purpose.

Purpose is better, because you have a deep understanding of who you are and what you want your life to be. Being mindful of your Purpose makes it easy to make the appropriate decisions to move you in the right direction without having to set a goal.

Goals are judgmental. If you set one and don’t achieve it, there is judgment. You have failed. Nobody needs that guilt, especially when we are the one’s setting them!

Set yourself free of the cycle and LIVE your life, in alignment with your Purpose. Want that extra glass of wine? Consider that perhaps it’s more important to forgo it, so that you sleep better, have more energy and have just that extra bit of juice in your batteries to pursue your dream on the side.

I may want to go to the gym five days a week, but my lifestyle and obligations make that an unrealistic goal. I can’t commit to that, no matter how good that would be for me. But I can make sensible decisions to take better care of my health (forgo that glass of wine), sleep better, make better eating decisions, take breaks to move my body more, etc.

As you progress through the year, you can continually make adjustments based on where you want to be, or more importantly, who you want to be.

Better Results

How do we get the results we want? They don’t just happen. An action always precedes results and a thought precedes action. Thoughts are guided by our programming or conditioning. Discovering and pursuing Purpose includes the process of changing your core conditioning.

You may have seen me post this previously:

Conditioning -> Beliefs/Thoughts -> Actions -> Results

Goals may be based on desires or immediate needs (lose weight, get blood pressure down, start a retirement account etc.). These are real, but are needs that are disparate and non-cohesive. Losing weight may have nothing to do with starting a retirement account.

Purpose works differently. By ordering or living out your Purpose, you are making daily decisions based on what is most important to you, based on your deepest values and most important dreams. This will lead to thoughts that lead to consistent action which will lead to much more reliable results.

But isn’t this really a foo-foo play on semantics? I don’t believe so. I believe it is much more fundamental than that. Actions taken based on a larger perspective of what you want to accomplish is going to fundamentally be more effective than making ad-hoc goals without the core motivation to make them happen.

This isn’t to say goals can’t work! Some people have to set goals and there isn’t anything inherently wrong with having targets to shoot for, milestones to judge progress. I get that, I do that. I plan consistently and review where I am and what I want to accomplish in the short, medium and long term. These are goals, but I try to always make them based on my Purpose and make certain they are in alignment.

Most people I know that religiously set goals (ahem, some family members), tend to be self-motivated, driven people with an inherent sense of what they want to accomplish. I’m no psychologist, but I would say they are driven by Purpose, whether they define it as such or not.

The bottom line here is that you will be more effective at achieving your dreams if you are specific about what they are and make conscious, mindful decisions that are consistent with them.

If you aren’t yet able to succinctly state what your Purpose is, here are a few articles to get you started.

How to Live a Life of Purpose – and Why

Passion: How to Take the First Step?

A Confession

Well, my advice not to make resolutions wasn’t exactly true. There is ONE resolution you can make.

Resolve this year to find your Purpose and Live it.

See you can now tell people you do have a New Year’s Resolution!

Image Courtesy of Ben Newton

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