Career or Calling? The Importance of Setting Authentic Goals

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Guest contributed by Kim Forrester

Goal-setting is an obvious necessity for those who want to succeed and achieve. But what if you are seeking more than material success in your life and career? What if you also desire a sense of personal fulfilment; inspiration; purpose? If this is the case, it is vital that you choose goals that are not only challenging and rewarding. They must also be truly authentic.

According to Douglas Hall Ph.D. and Dawn Chandler Ph.D. of the Boston University School of Management, individuals with a strong sense of purpose in their career tend to benefit from enhanced meta-competencies; i.e. heightened self-awareness and greater adaptability. Subsequently, an individual with strong meta-competencies is able to learn other, more specific skills with greater ease.
This makes authentic goal-setting a powerful force in your career: an authentic goal not only appeals on a logical level (that is to say it looks like something worthy), it also resonates with who you are as an individual and injects an inherent sense of meaning and purpose into your daily work.

The greater truth of who you are

By its very definition an authentic goal is one that moves beyond social expectation and, instead, reflects a deeply personal and essentially unique understanding of your vision, your values and your greatest desires. There is no 7-Step-Plan to creating an authentic goal. What is required, is for you to become more aware of who you are.

If asked to describe your role in this world, many of you may say that you are a capable and ambitious woman; a committed team member and/or conscientious leader. A colleague, friend, daughter … perhaps a spouse or mother.

There are many words used to describe the concept of contributing in a truly meaningful way – you may know it as a vocation, calling, or ‘life purpose’ – but essentially they all stem from the same idea: you are a part of nature and, as such, you have inherent and inescapable instincts and abilities yearning to be expressed.

By defining and accomplishing more authentic goals, you not only enjoy the usual benefits of achievement (whether they be intellectual, fiscal, psychological or social) but you also nourish and reward your most fundamental essence – that intangible, natural sense of self.

Defining an authentic goal

Just as who you are, at a fundamental level, is often difficult to express in the conventional sense, defining your most authentic goals almost always requires the suspension of logic, reason and analysis. You are not going to ‘think’ your way to authenticity and you most certainly won’t find a blueprint for it anywhere ‘out there’.

If you are searching for more meaning in your career and life, it’s important to set goals that resonate with you authentically. You can do this by:

Switching off autopilot:

Every path to achievement that you have been told – every plan, process and formula for success – is simply a reflection of someone else’s story. And if we were all identical, living uniform, predictable lives, then your path to success could very well emulate someone else’s. But we are not identical and life is a complex tapestry of events, experiences and opportunities. In our logical society, it is easy to get stuck in the idea that the only way forward is the way it’s been done before, but you are unique, creative and capable. Let go of any concept of how things are supposed to work and carve your own path forward.

Trusting your intuition:

We have come to revere conscious decision-making as the highest form of thought; we are taught that logic and analysis will lead us to the best solution, every time. However, recent studies have suggested that we are, in fact, at the mercy of our unconscious brain. What this means for you, is that even the most ‘rational’ decision is being influenced by deeply-set, unconscious patterns and beliefs, including childhood memories and trauma, unhealthy behaviour patterns and deep rooted concepts of what you do, and do not, believe you are worthy of.

In contrast, researchers are beginning to understand the power of the ‘gut instinct’ and have discovered that unconscious urges and emotional prompts can actually increase the accuracy and confidence of decision making. It’s important to note that the vast majority of your physical and physiological processes are unconscious, so your body is a wonderful ally when seeking intuitive knowledge. It knows what’s good for us, and what’s not, so pay attention.

Listening to your language:

A little self-awareness around the words you use – out loud, and in your mind – can reveal a lot about your goals and your intent behind them. Listen to yourself. If you are doing something because you “should” or you “have to” then you are inviting in a sense of resistance and struggle; of obligation and disempowerment. Make sure you are choosing goals because you “want to”. If you want something, then it is an authentic desire and you will have the strength, resilience and creativity you need to achieve.

Kim Forrester is an award-winning author, educator and holistic wellness coach. She combines cutting-edge science with traditional spiritual teachings to inspire soulful living. Her book, Infinite Mind, explores the capabilities of the human mind and was awarded a Silver Medal in the 2017 Living Now Book Awards.

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