The Power of Eternal Goals
May 29, 2007
Way back in 1980, while still in my twenties, I listened to an audio tape called “The Power of Goal Setting”, by Paul J. Meyer (http://www.pauljmeyer.com). Its primary message was that clarifying one’s goals, prioritizing them, and then writing them down produced a powerful effect on one’s life. I was inspired by the concept, and immediately adopted the practice. Since that time, I have rewritten my goals many times, in an effort to bring into focus the goals that were the most important to me.
Using the above method, one writes down everything that one wants to do, from small to large to seemingly impossible dreams. The goals should include internal growth goals as well as external goals. While writing them down, one shouldn’t doubt or criticize the goals. Once the goals are all written down, then the task is to prioritize them, selecting the top twelve, and then the top three and then the number one goal that one wants to achieve. Prioritizing goals forces you to ask the question, “What are the goals that you want to achieve above all others, and that you want so badly that you are willing to sacrifice the other goals on your list to achieve them?”
The numbers three and twelve are quite arbitrary, and even the idea of only one goal being your top goal may be too limiting. Using other numbers is fine. The purpose of the exercise is to clarify to yourself what you really, really want. Knowing what we truly desire produces clarity in our thoughts and in our actions, and most important of all, gives us a real chance to attain our goals.
It is unfortunate that many people have no idea what they truly want, and thus drift through life from birth to death having no idea where they’re going. To clarify our goals requires time and effort and deeply reflective thought. However, thinking deeply is in danger of becoming a lost art. It should be a skill that is a required course in all schools, so that children learn the habit of reflection and meditation early in life. Teaching a person to think deeply and to get in touch with one’s core values and with one’s heart and mind is as important as the skills or reading, writing and arithmetic.
Reflection and mediation are two different operations that are both necessary for clarity in one’s life. Both require finding the time and space to be alone and to be silent. Sitting or walking in nature is a great place to do both, for the atmosphere in nature is simple and unsullied. Reflection is an active task where we use our intellect and heart to review the many elements of our life. It is a task that often includes the process of asking such questions as, “What is the most important thing in my life?” and “What is valuable to me?” As we reflect and think and ask ourselves questions, we can sort through all the competing goals that we have and zero in on the most important desires of our life.
Complementing the active task of reflection, meditation allows us to go deeper. For me, meditation is a process that involves listening. One can say that when one meditates, one listens to one’s inner mind, or to the knowledge bank of the universe. I prefer to think that meditation is a process of listening to God’s whispered directions and inspirations.
I think that we are meant to have a symbiotic relationship with God, with God living inside us as well as all around us. I believe that God created each one of us as a unique reflection of a distinct “particle” of God that is our source and blueprint. Even from a physical point of view, it is mind-boggling that we all started out as a zygote, one cell that contained a complete blueprint of our physiognomy and characteristics. Can it be that our blueprint also includes God’s unique hope for each of us and our own unique set of talents and missions in life?
When one speaks of humans as a “reflection” of God, it seems to denote that there’s a distance, and that God is somewhere outside of us. It is of course true that God, being omnipresent, is outside of us, but I think that it’s more accurate to say that God is also inside of us, living within us every day, as we go about our daily tasks. One might say that the part of God’s energy and mind and heart that is our unique “source” is woven together with our energy and mind and heart. This has relevance for us when we meditate upon our goals, for living in a symbiotic relationship with a God who created us with unique talents and purposes should deeply affect our perspective about ourselves.
If we live in a symbiotic relationship, why can’t we hear God speak to us about our life’s purpose and goals? I believe that God is speaking to us every moment of our life, whispering in our heart, speaking to us with a voice that can only be heard if we listen. Unfortunately, listening doesn’t always mean hearing. We may meditate and listen and hear nothing at all, and lose hope. If God is speaking to us, and we’re listening, why can’t we hear Him?
I think that we cannot hear God very easily because we are all damaged. Through no particular fault of our own, we have inherited emotional, spiritual and psychological problems that have made it very difficult to hear God directly. It is not because God isn’t speaking to us, or that we are not trying to listen. It’s simply that our ability to hear or perceive God has been damaged, not unlike a radio that can’t pick up a signal very well. If one assumes that the frequency or wavelength that God is using to broadcast His thoughts to us is the wavelength of love and purity, then one could also assume that we will gradually be able to hear Him more and more as we purify our hearts and minds and spirits.
Our expectation might also be that we want to hear God as an audible voice. Isn’t it true however, that God usually speaks to us through our thoughts, wordlessly imparting love and wisdom to our minds and hearts? Perhaps we have heard God many times, but didn’t recognize that it was God! God also may speak to us indirectly, through other people, through nature, and even by sending us messages and signs in our daily life.
Listening to God, and clarifying our life goals, is an ongoing process that is deeply affected by our own internal standard of purity and love. As we change, our goals change. As we strive to fulfill goals of love and unselfishness, we change even more. Thus, we hone our goals until we understand more clearly what is truly important to us. Our goals are closely tied to the unique talents and purposes that God gave to each of us.
At the age of fifty-two, I realized that I had to expand my external goals to include my life in the spirit world. I should have realized this much earlier in life, but for many years I’ve separated my goals. My “external” career goals only went as far as the end of my life in the physical world. My goals for the spirit world were limited to “internal” goals, such as loving God and loving people. I now feel that this is too limiting, for we won’t stop working in the afterlife. We’ll want to do something.
This was a watershed realization for me, and provided me with a truly inspiring long-term vista of my life in the future. Our work and creativity and contributions to others don’t stop at the point of “death”, but continue forever. From all the testimonies that have been published about life in the spirit world, we can deduce that there is one major difference in a person’s experience of work in the afterlife. Because of the nature of the spirit world, we don’t have to work to pay the rent, or obtain food and clothing. These things are provided based on our level of unselfish love. In other words, the “rat race” and treadmill of exhaustion are gone. Instead, we work because of love, at tasks that bring joy to ourselves and others.
Reflecting about all of this, I immediately got out a notebook and started writing down what I felt called to do in the spirit world. The goals that I wrote down were a natural extension of what I have been trying to do in my life so far, such as writing, speaking and caring for others. It was a stimulating exercise, for I had to ask myself what kind of writing I would do. What will people want to read in the spirit world?
Casting my thoughts forward like that was a liberating experience. Many people work very hard to fulfill their goals within their physical lifetime, and feel grief and stress when their results are less than they wish. Removing the endpoint of “death” and realizing that we can continue our work in the afterlife is a wonderful concept. It is a concept that has a powerful effect on our goals.
Considering the religious assumption that God is the ruler of the spirit world, and doesn’t allow evil to flourish there, and considering the view that one “goes” to the realm of the spirit world that reflects one’s heart and level of unselfish love, it makes sense to refine one’s eternal goals so that they are compatible with the reality of the spirit world. Making a goal to be a Mafia kingpin in the spirit world won’t bring about a satisfactory conclusion. One might end up in a mud puddle instead. This also profoundly affects our goals for our physical lifetime, for a life centered upon selfish goals will not produce a good result in the spirit world. Aligning one’s goals for the physical world with one’s goals for the eternal spirit world is the most logical course of action.
Many people believe that the primary goals of all human beings should be to love God, and to love and care for all other human beings with God’s love. Making these our primary goals will allow our symbiotic relationship with God to flourish. Becoming more and more sensitive to God, we will understand what our true talents and callings are, and we will be able to clarify what we should do in the physical world, and then later on, in the spirit world. This is not a limiting procedure, for the concept of “eternity” in the spirit world automatically assumes that we’ll have a great deal of time to do many things.
Since we haven’t yet “moved” to the spirit world, gaining a perspective about our eternal goals will help us here, as we strive each day to contribute to those around us. An eternal perspective will inspire us and give us strength, for we will realize that the life ahead of us is very long indeed.
Peter Falkenberg Brown is passionate about writing, publishing, public speaking and film. He hopes that someday he can live up to his favorite motto: “Expressing God’s kind and compassionate love in all directions, every second of every day, creates an infinitely expanding sphere of heart.”
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