The response I got in my inbox from my article “What are you here for?” was overwhelming!
(Truthfully, there were only about eight emails and I wasn’t completely overwhelmed. My boss sent me 463 emails in the half an hour preceding my post going out, so my perspective was a little skew-whiff.)
But there was a theme in those responses I got, and it called me to have a good think about it.
- I asked you the question: Do you believe in fate? Do you have a purpose? Are you living it?
- And the answer you gave me was: How can I know if this is my purpose? I have plenty of goals – how can I know which of these goals is the true one?
Alright, I can take on that question. To find out if the goal you’re focused on is really the thing you truly desire, your core calling, the song that has been humming in your heart since you were born, you have to ask yourself five questions.
But first, an exercise.
Think of that goal of yours (“top salesman three months in a row” or “get the kitchen cabinets polished by Wednesday” or “be an astronaut” or “grow a cannabis farm for pediatric medicine” or what your goal may be).
Picture it, clear as day, in your mind. Imagine that it’s already here, feel the feeling in your stomach as you accept the top salesman award to standing ovation, or are cooking in your shiny new kitchen, or graduate from NASA’s astronaut school (they have one of those, right?).
Own that goal. It’s yours. It’s not too big for you, and it’s not unreachable. Whatever in your wildest dreams it is that you’ve imagined, it’s already yours.
As soon as you’ve got a clear picture in your mind of what you want, what you’d really really love, then ask yourself these questions:
1. Does it give me life?
Thinking about your goal should make you bubble with excitement. Feel that effervescent fizz erupt in your abdomen! If thinking about your goal feels dreary and boorish and full of chores and effort, then perhaps it’s not your true passion. Maybe being top salesman three months in a row is the goal that your boss thinks you should have. Maybe your mother-in-law thinks you should aim for that kitchen renovation.
Here’s a caveat though: Sometimes we can’t feel the excitement and fizziness when we think about our goals because our fears and limiting beliefs block it out. If you’re too busy thinking about how you can’t afford new kitchen cabinets or you’re not clever enough to be an astronaut, then you’re not thinking about your goal. You’re thinking about the wrong thing. So, just as a quick repetition, be sure to imagine your dream as if it is already here, and all those obstacles are already in the past. Then ask yourself the question again. This time you should feel the excitement. And if not, maybe the goal you have set in your mind isn’t your true calling. (And that’s ok – I’ll get on to that.)
2. Does it align with my core values?
Your true goal will never ask you to divert from your core beliefs or disregard other passions. If the goal you have set yourself requires you to work 100 hour weeks and never see your children, then it’s probably not really your heart’s desire. You don’t have to choose between success and happiness.
Here’s another caveat: If you’ve stepped away from your core values in pursuit of your dream, it may be that the dream is right, but your methodology is wrong. Ask yourself, is there a way I can achieve this goal without compromising on the things I believe? If the answer is yes, change your tactic and you’ll see faster results. If the answer is no, then you got your goal wrong. (No big deal though, easy fix – I’ll get on to that.)
3. Does the dream require that I grow?
My daughter is three and is at that gorgeous age where she absolutely can do anything and everything by herself because she’s a big girl. I love watching her stuffing her leg into her sleeve and her head through the leg hole as she tries to get dressed, because it reminds me that ever since we were born we are pulled into expansion, we have a yearning to learn more, to grow.
If your dream requires that you know more than you do now, or have skills you don’t yet possess, or money that you haven’t yet earned, then it’s bigger than you and that is worth aiming for.
If you’ve set your goal according to your current capacity (whether it’s time/money/skill level) then it’s not worth the soggy napkin you jotted it down on. (But that’s cool – I’ll get to that.)
4. Do I need help to achieve this dream?
If you don’t, it’s not big enough. You’ll need a mentor, or a role model. Perhaps you need guidance from God, or spirit, or universe, or angels or whatever you think that thing up there is.
Your true dream will require you to study, to think, and to learn from masters. This wouldn’t be a chore! Remember, thinking about your goal needs to fill you with life, not dread. So if your dream requires you to find inspiration from somewhere else than where you are right now, and the learning process excites you, then you’re on track!
5. Does it bring good to others?
This is where the advice gets all spiritual and hocus-pocusy, so put your prejudice in your pocket for now and let’s get all open-minded for a couple of paragraphs.
Positive force in the universe is much more powerful than negative force. A positive thought-wave has a more far-reaching vibration than a negative one. Good is stronger than bad. For that reason, the Universe will only call forward goals that send a ripple of goodness through existence, otherwise there would be too much resistance. If your goal would have negative effects on you, your family, society etc, then you might get somewhere with it, you might even achieve it, but it can’t be sustainable and you won’t find happiness.
It doesn’t mean your goal has to be a philanthropic one – it can be totally selfish! If your selfish goal is to be an astronaut, imagine all the good to others you will bring about by achieving that goal. Even aside from the incredible contributions you’d make to scientific progression, or the diplomatic efforts as you become involved in international space talks. Even on a “smaller” scale, your own happiness and fulfillment will affect your spouse, children and friends, inspire others to follow their dreams, and ripple through existence in an incalculable wave of good.
This last point is important to me, because it is the root of my philosophy: we have a responsibility to ourselves and to others to follow our dreams. Ignoring my calling not only deprives me of my chance to fulfill my craziest dreams, but it is also reckless: discontent, boredom and anger are negative vibrations with which I have no right to pollute other people’s atmosphere.
So there you have it: You’ve visualized your wildest dream and asked yourself the five questions. If you answered “yes” to all of them, then congratulations! You’re on the right track! Now all you have to do is keep hold of that vision, believe that you’ll achieve it, and every time you stand in front of a decision, ask yourself, is what I’m about to do going to help or hinder my progress toward my goal?
Ah. But what if you asked yourself the five questions and some of the answers were “no”. Oh shit, I spent 10 years of my life trying to sell gym memberships when I should have been brushing up on my astrophysics to get into NASA’s astronaut school.
It can be crushing to discover that what you’ve been working towards isn’t where your heart truly lies. So it turns out that being the top gym membership salesman isn’t exactly what you’d always hoped for, even if you momentarily forgot that in the pursuit of a sensible career. Now what?
The light is green ahead of you. The right path is right there. First, figure out what you really really do want. What would you love? Then, go back to that same exercise. Visualize it, study it, ask yourself the five questions. The years going the wrong way were not wasted – take what you’ve learned from it and apply the lessons. The years you spent trying to get your sales up might have taught you some very important lessons about communicating with people, or about your own limitations and weaknesses that you’ll need to iron out, or the art of business and profit. There is always time, and you have every tool you’ll ever need at your disposal.
Did that answer your question? I hope so. If not, please feel free to get in touch with me to talk about finding and fulfilling your dreams.