Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Aligning Our Specific Goals with Our General

1.  identifying my goal
2.  my Cause for that goal
3.  at least the first part of the pathway that is inherently connected to obtaining it (Process)
4. paying attention to the guiding Effects of my Cause while avoiding or resolving the Effects of Conflicting Causes
5. And finally making sure my goals are quantifiable so I can evaluate the progression I’m making along my journey (Result)....

I return again to the first step--goal identification.

When I’m evaluating my Results, I may see that I need to spend a little more time figuring out my goal.  I need to make sure it is worthy of all this effort I’m putting into it.  So I take a deeper look at it.  What do I generally want to obtain?  And is my specific goal a stepping stone to obtain this more general one?

From everything I’ve read, from raising four kids, and from evaluating my goals and many other people’s, I have concluded that the most general goal is to be happy.  It’s Joy.  When we choose our more specific goals, we’re saying, “I believe that achieving this goal is going to make me and those I care about more happy.”

That implies that we’re not as happy as we’d like to be right now.  Some people suggest that we can seize happiness, choose to have it right now.  I would agree but it can’t be had in its sustainability and to the level of our complete satisfaction right now just for the taking if we are stuck in a bunch of ruts from years of journeying to some alternative destination (which most of us are to some degree).  We have to DO something to obtain it because sustainable happiness that is intense enough to fill us is a Result; it is a destination.

Listen:  Work by Nashville Tribute Band (Can't find it online except on iTunes, sorry.)
But isn’t there also joy in the journey?  I believe there is.  In fact if we aren't experiencing joy in the journey, we most likely are not on the right pathway.  If we've been off course, the moment we change our course so we’re on the pathway that leads to our desired destination, we experience a return of joy.  Of course, the change (at first) may be an intensely sorrowful, fearful experience in itself because we have to let go of Conflicting Causes and their Pseudo-Blackhole Effect that we’ve been depending on.   But the more we can stay on the pathway that leads to our desired destination, the more sustainable our joy will be (Matt 24:13).   This has been my experience and I have witnessed this in the journeys of others as well. 


So in order to obtain our general goal of happiness, we identify the specific goals that WE HONESTLY BELIEVE will get us closer to it.  The joy is the standard for our goal.  We don’t just choose any random goal to obtain.  Our choice is up for evaluation:  “Will this goal, upon achievement, bring me and those I love greater Joy?”  When we say that we believe that it will, we form a hypothesis.  If we study and research out that hypothesis before actually making more permanent choices in the pursuit of it, then that hypothesis becomes more solid.

Most of us are very clear on the fact that journeys to obtain goals are not all bliss, comfort, and happiness.  They require sweat, sacrifice, and sometimes wading through deep waters of sorrow.  Yet it is also true that there is Joy in the journey.  
“The challenges you face, the growth experiences you encounter, are intended to be temporary scenes played out on the stage of a life of continuing peace and happiness. Sadness, heartache, and disappointment are events in life. It is not intended that they be the substance of life. I do not minimize how hard some of these events can be. When the lesson you are to learn is very important, trials can extend over a long period of time, but they should not be allowed to become the confining focus of everything you do. Your life can and should be wondrously rewarding. It is your understanding and application of the laws of God that will give your life glorious purpose as you ascend and conquer the difficulties of life. That perspective keeps challenges confined to their proper place—stepping-stones to further growth and attainment” 

The sacrifices we make always need to be balanced with our view of our Result.  How beautiful is it going to be?

"But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him." ~1 Corinthians 2:9

Being able to discern between Sorrow Effects that are warning us that we are deviating from the pathway to obtain our goal and Sorrow Effects that come as a result of the inherent sacrifices we need to make to actually accomplish our goal requires a very alert, pure, and keen mind and heart.  And that comes through experience.  We make mistakes.  We learn from them.  But we have to be paying attention and having as one of our goals to obtain this ability:  The ability to discern between and thus understand the meaning of the Effects we experience.

Our general vs. specific goals toggle.  Our values are the next level down below Joy.  Our values describe what we believe to be the general Process to obtain Joy.  And then our specific goals branch off from our values.  Our day to day tasks then further branch off from those specific goals.  It’s easy for these day-to-day “to-do” lists to conflict with our specific goals, values, and our most general goal to obtain greater happiness.  Taking regular time-outs from the “game” to evaluate if our daily tasks are progressing us towards sustainable happiness or if they are preventing us from getting there is key to our success.

If you’re still working on your new year’s goals (hopefully we all are), think about these questions:

Do you recognize that your general goal is to find a greater and more sustainable happiness for you and those you love?
What are your values?
What are your specific goals?
What’s on your daily task list?
Are all your more specific goals in alignment with your more general ones?